Were your ears ringing at the announcement that Style Me Pretty was shutting down? If you read this post of mine from last year, then perhaps you understand that mine were not. Did you also know that Snippet and Ink stopped publishing content a few months ago?
Most importantly, if you are a business owner in the wedding industry, have you asked how your clients found you? My guess is that, if they are skewing anywhere under the age of 30, their answer was not via a wedding blog.
From the graphic below you can see the downward trend in traffic from the site’s peak in 2014. And I don’t think that it will be a stretch of anyone’s imagination to identify the blog killer as Instagram.
In 2012 Style Me Pretty was purchased by AOL and AOL was rebranded as Oath after it’s acquisition by Verizon in 2015. Once SMP was purchased, it became a part of a publicly traded company, and its financial performance was now accountable to shareholders.
In hindsight, Oath was most definitely looking at data similar to the graphic above, and the site redesign last year was a concerted effort to stem the flow of traffic away from the site. It was just poorly executed. And more than likely nothing could have been done to draw users back from Instagram.
Last year, when I pointed out the SEO faults that SMP had made with their site redesign and the significant detriment that had been done to its vendor referral service (the Little Black Book – LBB), the employees of the site were unwilling to engage in productive discourse with me when I armed them with data arguing our (vendors paying for participation in the LBB) case. Two takeaways that we, as wedding business owners, should gather from this experience:
- Lack of competition actually hurts the small businesses more than the large players. Oath will shutter SMP, just as they did Polyvore recently, and cut their losses . Every small business that has had a feature on SMP will experience a detriment to their SEO when the content is removed on April 30th (more on that later).
- If we want to continue to have viable business models, we need to advocate for the industry, for each other, and our exposure. Despite what some may think, I don’t relish in this closure, I find it incredibly depressing. But I find it depressing because there is no competition to the way in which we are fed information online. That one single platform, Instagram, wiped out blogs almost entirely, is very bad for independent thought.
It’s okay to mourn the loss of something that was at one time an incredible business feat, a site that set the wedding industry into a frenzied motion, and a female-built powerhouse.
It’s not okay to sit around believing that just because something is presumably “large,” or the industry standard, that it is impervious to trends and change; because if we sit around with blinders on, that ringing in our ears will eventually be our own professional death knell.
Things to keep in mind with this closure and for future business growth:
As business owners we must learn to look ahead: Hoping that the site will remain alive is not progressive business ownership, but will only serve as an SEO tourniquet. We need to find other ways to drive our business growth and exposure. There is no value to Oath to pay such high fees to house 12 years worth of content if traffic continues to diminish and ad dollars continue to dwindle. Move on.
This could significantly impact your business’s ranking on Google: If content on Style Me Pretty is actually going to be removed on April 30th, and your website has high page rank on Google that is particularly bolstered by SMP backlinks, be prepared for a significant shift once Google does a crawl and realizes that all of SMP’s content has been wiped, because SMP holds significant domain authority.
Stop wasting time with Instagram Pods*: If you understand that a social media platform’s algorithm is sophisticated enough to correctly determine your political affiliation** when you made every effort to avoid engaging with anything even remotely in that realm (mine was frighteningly spot on), then you should also understand that algorithms are sophisticated enough to devalue the engagement of a group of users continually engaging with the same accounts over time.
Continuously evaluate your business’s relevancy and the landscape of the industry: Are you still providing a quality good or service? What is the composition of your client base? How do you best reach them? Have they changed the digital platforms with which they choose to engage?
Millenials are changing the idea of weddings completely. What does it mean when an entire generation looks at religion differently and is saddled with student loan debt, choking their ability to spend? The wedding industry finds itself perfectly in the crosshairs. But I honestly believe in the innovation and creativity of the professionals in this industry.
Band together, move forward, do good work.
*Instead of Instagram Pods, try working with other vendors to write posts about them and share outbound links to their site and have them reciprocate. It will help the SEO of both parties.
**To see how Facebook identifies your political affiliation Account settings > Ads > Your Information > Review and Manage Your Categories > US Politics