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How to Use Keywords in Your Website Copy (and the importance) 

The goal of any successful website or blog should be to create awareness of a brand or company. No one will be able to find or experience what you have your business. While you may have other forms of advertising, showing up in web searches is important to your overall brand awareness, so optimizing your website copy is a good place to start. In order to do this, you must focus on keywords. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started in your keyword research.

Choose the right keywords

Start your research by determining your topic themes. What will be the main theme of your blog? Find out what your target audience actually wants to read about and what they’re likely to be searching for in search engines. For example, a popular topic that a marketing company could write about is, “How to use keywords to rank higher on Google”.

After you get a good idea of what your blog will focus on you’ll also want to find your top 20 keywords that can be included in the article. Start this phase by compiling a list of topics or phrases that your target audience might be searching for. You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, or WordStream to see if your chosen topics or phrases qualify as good keywords, usually by determining if they have a high search volume and low SEO difficulty. It’s a good idea to find what your best keyword variations are and save them in an easily accessible space for tracking blog topics. 

Focus on keyword placement

Just as the keyword itself is important, it’s useful to consider where the keyword is being placed. You can see on any search engine results page that certain keywords will show up in the metadata of a website, but you’ll also want to keep keywords in your website’s titles and headings, body paragraphs, URLs, and image file names in order to have as much exposure as possible.

Know How to Use Keywords

Did you know that search engines will penalize you for stuffing your website content with keywords where they don’t belong? They’re smart enough to know when you’re using them just to use them in hopes of ranking, rather than actually using them to provide quality content. Remember to be genuine in everything you write. If it doesn’t make sense to have your keyword in a certain place, even if it’s in a recommended location, err on the side of caution and don’t add it. It’s also helpful to use variations of your keywords, so instead of using your exact keyword phrase at every opportunity, you can mix up the wording slightly. This way you hit more variations of potential searches and you’re less likely to get penalized for keyword stuffy. 

Ultimately your aim is to have the best listings in search engines in order to attract and engage your target audience. Keyword research is a great way to start including keywords and phrases that are relevant to your product or service. Doing this research may seem time consuming but it will help you find out what your target audience is actually searching for and what they want to read about, in turn driving organic traffic to your website. 

 

Does all of this sound just a little too technical and not aligned with your skillset? CAST Design Team offers full SEO services including keyword research, blog writing, and other marketing services to aid in your efforts. Let’s chat!

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Search Engine Optimization Goals for 2020

Search Engine Optimization Goals for 2020

Happy 2020! A new year means new marketing goals for any business that wants to stay afloat, and just as the internet is always changing, internet marketing tactics are always changing as well. The last decade brought major changes to the way marketers used the power of the internet and SEO to rank higher in search engines, from new search software to the use of AI and speech commands.

How can digital marketers make 2020 their best SEO year yet? After reviewing the trends of the past year and the best internet marketing tactics, we’ve compiled a list of the most important SEO goals you should commit to as part of your 2020 marketing resolutions.

High Quality Content

This should go without saying, but your number one priority should be putting high-quality content into your web copy, articles, and marketing materials. What does high quality mean? Users want to read material that’s helpful, relevant, informative, and easy to understand. Far too many websites either burden their web copy with specialized jargon in the hopes of ranking higher in niche searches, or they write copy with grammatical errors and poor readability.

You can’t expect your readers to stay on your site for long or listen to your marketing material if your site pushes them away. Worse, poor-quality writing will hurt your SEO ranking, as it will reduce the amount of time people spend on your site. Finally, the vast majority of web users hate web material that “sounds like a sales pitch” – so, your first goal is to always write with quality in mind, and you’ve already won half the optimization battle.

Longer Form Content

It turns out, people actually like reading. Articles with over 2000 words tend to rank higher in searches and attract more viewers than shorter form articles. Why? Nobody wants to read through several different websites to find all the information they need; if one article answers all of their questions in a clear and concise voice, they’re much more likely to read through that article and keep revisiting that website.

Additionally, longer articles can keep readers on your website for longer which, as previously mentioned, can slightly improve your search ranking. Take the time to consider all of your readers’ questions and concerns – it will likely foster stronger readership, give you some SEO bonuses, and make your company a much more trustworthy brand.

Dwell time and Click Through Rates (CTR)

Are people clicking the links to your website? How long do they stay on your site? How about a certain page? Search engines want to know if your site is satisfying the needs of its readers. With a virtually unlimited amount of information at everyone’s fingertips, it’s likely that the websites that best satisfy their readers’ questions will rank higher in web searches. The best way to measure this is based on the amount of people who follow links to your site (CTR) and how long they stay (Dwell time) – that’s why it’s so important to provide both short form and long form quality content that your readers can visit and rely on, as this will likely factor into your overall SEO.

Featured Snippets

When you type a question into Google, sometimes the top link will include a box that briefly answers the question. For example, if you type “How does SEO work?” into Google, the first link explains SEO in brief, pulled from an article written in LYFE Marketing.

Obviously, LYFE Marketing will get a lot of new readers from this search feature, including readers who will revisit their site and buy their products. To increase the likelihood that your website will earn a featured snippet for a relevant question, write articles or FAQs that respond to questions your potential readership will ask. The more your content helps your readers, the more likely that you’ll feature at the top of specific Google searches.

Optimizing for 2020

Have you ever asked Siri, Google, or Alexa to look something up for you? If so, you’ve utilized the power of two things: voice searches and artificial intelligence. These two trends are changing the way websites rank in SEO. Chances are, people ask questions verbally in a different way than typing into a search box, so search terms are becoming more colloquial and conversational. While this doesn’t mean you should change the way you write your web copy, it does mean that the high ranking SEO terms might shift as voice commands become a larger part of search engines.

Additionally, with AI pulling content for search queries, only the most relevant and helpful articles will be pulled up by the likes of Siri and Alexa. This goes back to the idea of quality content – if you want Google Home to like you, make sure your content is relevant and well-written.

Mobile User Experience (UX)

Another huge trend of the past decade includes the rise of mobile technology. As a result, websites that aren’t optimized for mobile phone searches simply won’t make the cut, as almost 90% of consumers in the U.S. use their phones to find information. Optimizing your site with a mobile-friendly option and high readability will ensure that your site is competitive in the SEO domain.

Web Security

A crucial aspect of web UX, having a secure website makes a huge difference in your site’s SEO potential. Google has cracked down on insecure websites over the past few years, so pages that don’t have enabled HTTPS protocol are often labeled as “Not Secure” when you try to access it on any Google browser. Additionally, users want to know that their information is protected and encrypted when using your site or sharing any personal information, so while these aspects of web design might not correlate directly to SEO, protected sites will likely rank higher in web searches, have lower bounce rates, and yield a much more dedicated readership.

Loading Speed

Another aspect of UX, nobody wants to wait for your site to load, and if it’s taking more than a couple of seconds, then it’s probably faster to just go with the next link down. Take the time to ensure that your web pages load fast across all platforms, with easy navigation and accessibility, otherwise you’ll have a high bounce rate, low dwell time, and generally poor SEO ranking.

Image Optimization

All your images have what’s called “Alt Text,” which is text that briefly describes what’s happening in the photo, especially for users with poor reception or who have accessibility requirements. Not only does this make your site more friendly to all readers, but it also enhances your SEO capabilities. You never want to overload your photos with alt text, but including a few relevant search terms that accurately explain your photos can certainly push you up a few rankings.

Influencer Marketing

The term “social media influencer” became a big deal last year. Despite the controversy, studies prove that influencers work – people are more likely to trust a business if it’s recommended by a trustworthy, popular source. That being said, influencer marketing can also boost your SEO. If you come to an agreement with an influencer to include certain backlinks to your business on their website and social channels, you can drive major traffic to your site and also build relevant backlinks that will push you higher in search results.

There you have it! Those are our top SEO Resolutions for 2020. Which ones do you think you’ll implement? If you have any questions about SEO, need an expert in digital marketing, or want to revitalize your web presence, look no further – we’re experts in web media at CAST Design. Learn more about our process, or reach out today, and let’s create your best SEO year yet.

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Web Design Best Practices for 2020

Web Design Best Practices for 2020

2020 is officially in full swing, and with a new year comes new resolutions. On top of hitting the gym and eating healthier, there’s one resolution I want us all to agree on – no more bad websites.

Seriously – low-quality web pages plague the internet these days. While slow load speeds and mobile-hostile websites might have been permissible in the 2010s, it’s the start of a whole new decade, and businesses need to understand that a web presence alone isn’t enough to attract new clients. To survive in the digital marketplace, companies need a site that’s optimized and user-friendly, on top of aesthetically pleasing.

So, as we speed into the new year, join CAST Design Team in implementing these 10 web development best practices for 2020.

Brand-Consistent Web Design

Your web design, layout, and content all contribute to your brand and how your customers perceive your business. If you don’t get it right from the start, you could create some serious misconceptions that drive clients to your competitors.

For example, let’s say you’re shooting for a brand that’s chic and minimalistic. If your marketing materials and products say “trendy and simple,” but your web design is filled with content like Amazon.com or Microsoft.com, that dissonance could push potential buyers away.

That’s not to dig Amazon or Microsoft – their web design works great for what they’re trying to push! But if your web design doesn’t match your message, don’t expect visitors to stay on your site for long.

Web Tracking

Speaking of visitor times, you need to know what’s working on your site and what isn’t. How long your customers stay on your site, where they click, and whether or not they’re engaging with your business are key indicators of what’s working in your brand. Your site should be able to track conversions, traffic, and other key indicators that confirm what’s working – and what isn’t.

Conversion Optimized

Of course, those analytics don’t mean anything if your website isn’t optimized to turn website clicks into dedicated customers. Throughout your site, you want to be sure that customers can easily access more material from your company. Whether that’s to schedule an appointment, sell a product, request a follow-up email, or even just push them to the next web page, your site should keep customers interested and engaged.

Enabled CMS

How do you keep customers engaged? Content, content, content! The better your web content is, the more likely your customers are to consider your branding, your message, and your business. Your site needs to enable some sort of Content Management System, allowing regular posting and editing so your customers stay engaged with your site.

Search Engine Optimization

We’ve talked a lot about keeping customers on your site, but how do we get them there in the first place? Advertisements and social media campaigns are great ways to attract customers, but they are also expensive. Before anything else, you want your website to be Search Engine Optimized (SEO).

A lot of what we’re discussing here are ways to build upon your site’s SEO, but the key to an SEO-based site is SEO-based content. By writing content that matches what customers are searching for in Google or Yahoo or Bing, your site is likely to rank higher in search pages. This, combined with a functional website and high traffic, is bound to create new interest and new converts to your brand.

Loading Speed

A lesser known aspect of an SEO site is a fast loading speed. If your site takes forever to load, chances are, even your most loyal clients won’t want to wait for much longer. Slow page loading means less web traffic and a less optimized platform, making your web design and content creation a waste of money and effort. Using a service like Pagespeed Insights or Pingdom, you can ascertain the loading speed of your site and how to improve it across all channels and devices.

Mobile Readiness

It’s 2020, which means virtually all of your clientele are connected to the internet via a mobile device. Optimizing your website includes making it mobile-friendly, so developing a mobile version of your site is essential to keeping your customers engaged. Nobody encounters a slow website on their phone and thinks “I’ll have to try on my laptop” – they’ll just go to a different site. Optimize your website for all mobile channels, so you’ll always be one click away.

Strong Web Security

All web-building platforms allow you to choose and develop your site security. Don’t skimp out on this – although it might not directly influence your site’s accessibility, protecting your clients’ information (and yours!) now will save you loads of stress in the future.

Social Media Integration

Does your website link to your social media pages? Can your web visitors see your twitter feed on the home page? Social media is essential to any digital campaign, so if you aren’t encouraging your customers to follow you on all channels and see the content you’re putting out, you’re not pushing your brand and messaging to its full potential.

Interactive Web Design

Finishing off this list, an interactive website will always do more than a website with basic features. Every website has the same two features: scrolling and clicking. Make your website stand apart by making these features interactive – include unique designs for all your links, give side-scrolling options, place social media widgets where they’ll fit, and make your site entertaining to visit. Of course, you never want to compromise your branding as you develop your site’s interactivity, but including a few elements of fun into your overall web design could generate loads of conversions.

In an effort to make the internet a better, more interesting place, these are our top resolutions. We hope you’ll consider some of these too! If you have any questions about optimizing your site, or if you’re looking for an expert team to help revamp your web presence, you’re already in the right place – the members of CAST Design have decades of digital experience under their belt. Learn more about our process, or reach out today.

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The Differences Between Brand Experience and User Experience

The Differences Between Brand Experience and User Experience

Brand experience and customer experience are two factors of a business with a singular focus: the customer. They work together to engage and draw in an audience, but they have inherently different characteristics and attributes. The brand experience helps cater to the consumer before they even become a customer, and the user experience, or UX, helps guide them through interactions within the brand. They have different approaches when it comes to the wants and desires of the customers, but are both firmly rooted in giving the best possible impression of your brand.

What is Brand Experience? 

Brand experience can rely heavily on visuals or design in order to communicate the message of your brand and evoke certain emotions from your audience. Although visual content is a large part of this, it isn’t the only factor. A great brand experience needs a solid marketing and advertising strategy backing it up. This can include bringing in new sales leads, engaging on social media, and pointing potential customers back to your brand. This creates awareness of your brand and will bring the audience into the next step: User experience.

What is User Experience? 

User experience references the steps the consumer will have to take to reach their destination with your brand. UX has a huge responsibility to ensure a smooth and positive customer experience. Think about it; you’ll be frustrated and give up quickly if a company’s website isn’t intuitive and is frustrating to navigate. High customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal here, so customers should be able to find service and guidance effortlessly. They’re unlikely to recommend or return to you if they have to stumble through a clunky website.

The Difference Between the Two 

The timelines also vary between brand and user experience. Brand experience focuses highly on a long term strategy that grows and develops with the business over a period of time. Relationships are eventually formed between consumers and the brand by continuously engaging with it. The brand experience lets consumers see the business through a certain lens and encourages loyalty. Contrastly, the user experience is much more immediate. Reactions are formed from the very second customers encounter your website or social profiles and the result can be either a lost customer or loyal returner. It won’t matter how good the brand experience is if the customer experience is lacking.

You are also able to measure brand and user experiences in different ways. Brand experience can be measured with data points such as reports and surveys to see how well consumers are engaged with it. User experience is normally measured by customer satisfaction scores and metrics that communicate with a brand, such as feedback surveys or star ratings. 

Either way, both brand and user experiences are important to generating revenue and increasing brand loyalty. They will both determine whether a customer will want to return to your business and will work together to accomplish the goals of your company.

Do you have more questions about Brand or User Experience? Have you been told that your user experience isn’t good? Reach out to our team for a consult on how to improve! 

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5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Website

5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Website

Your website is often the first thing a potential client sees when it comes to your business. It's important to make sure that your first impression is a good one. We're here to help! Here are 5 easy ways to improve your website right now.

  1. Have two main Call to Actions on our website
    How do you sell a client? Is it by a phone call? Is it a meeting where you are in front of them? Whatever that is, that is your main call to action which we call “marry me”. This is the call to action that has your prospect make a commitment to you to take the next step. The second call to action is more of “date me”. Just in case they aren't ready to get married yet, we still want them to show their interest. This can be asking them to join the newsletter, checking out a blog, following you on social media, etc. Make sure your website has these two Call to Actions.
  2. Tell a story
    You have to tell a story; however, you are not the hero in this story. Your potential client is the hero and you are simply the guide to help them achieve what they need. The customer always comes first, and this couldn't be truer in the customer to business provider relationship. Part of your mission statement should be how you historically (whether you have 1 client or 1,000) have over delivered on everything you've promised, and that your organization is dedicated to your success first.
  3. Curate your testimonials
    Why are most clients hesitant to work with you? What are they worried about? Identify those and curate the testimonials that pinpoint those pains. Scatter your testimonials all over the place on the web to show that you have done quality work in the past for reputable legitimate businesses.
  4. Create a simple process
    What does the process of working with you look like? Create a section to explain this. Every time you ask someone to do something, they think about what kind of time investment it means to them. Showing them a step by step breakdown makes whatever you are asking them to do seem so simple, instead of thinking of how hard it's going to be. Maybe an infographic or some simple type of illustration showing your process in simple terms.
  5. Make it easy to contact you
    Towards the top of your website, put your contact information and make sure that you have a form on your contact page. Think about what type of content you would like to see if you were the one shopping for your product/services. Never make it hard for someone to buy from you. Creating a seamless and easy process for contacting you or buying from you can help make them want to work with you rather than anyone else. Just be absolutely sure that whatever number or email you use is on high alert and almost constantly monitored 24/7.
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How to Stand Out Online

STAND OUT ONLINE

There is a common misconception that if you build a website you are going to get traffic or sales. This is very far from the truth. With the availability of DIY website builders, anyone and their mom can open a business and create a website. This is awesome for the new entrepreneur, but at the same time it means standing out online is now easier said than done.

So, our motto is: Just because you build it, does not mean they will come. You may have the most amazing product to sell, but your average, run-of-the-mill website is not going to produce the results you want to see. The Internet is just too big these days!

We are here to help you and your business succeed. Here are our three top tips to standing out online and getting the attention you deserve.

Start with a Unique Brand

Before you build your website, think about your brand and how it will help showcase your business on your website. Your brand is what sets your product or service apart from other companies that offer similar products or services. Branding your business may sound scary, but this is actually the fun part of starting your own business. You get to be creative here!

Some things to consider when branding your business are:

  • The name of your business
  • Color schemes and a unique logo
  • The tone and voice of your business
  • The message you want to share and what you want to be known for

Once you have a better idea of your unique brand, you can continue building your website. If you’re stuck in the branding phase and need help, check out our branding process and jump on a call with us!  

Have a Professional, Easy-to-Use Website

There is so much more to your website than it looking pretty! We highly suggest hiring a professional website designer to help you launch the perfect website the first time around. The reason for this is because there are many technical aspects that should be taken into consideration when building your website that will cause it to perform better than others on the Internet. The technical areas are the ones that DIY websites can’t do for you. If you decide to create your own website, we highly suggest taking a few online courses or reading a few how-to technical guides. Outside of the technical aspects, here are three other things to keep in mind when designing a website:

Your Brand

The branding work you did for your business will come in handy when designing your website. By sticking to the branding decisions you made early on you can keep your website looking professional and your marketing message consistent across all platforms. Your color scheme will flow smoothly throughout the site and your words will come easily when you’ve chosen the tone of voice you’d like to convey.

Simplicity

You don’t need every widget and application available to man on your website. Choose a few simple features and make those work for you. Too many applications and frills will make your website less user friendly and people won’t want to come back!

Professionalism

At all costs, you must keep your website professional! Even if you built your website yourself, you don’t want it to look like you did. You want it to look professional and well thought out. Choose professional images, fonts, colors, and applications that match your brand. If you are struggling, reach out for help! Our team is ready to help you brand and build your site professionally.

Once your website is done, you’re ready to start sharing it with your audience.

Market Your Business  

You’ve got a business, a brand, and a website. Now let’s get some sales and website traffic! Outside of the technical aspects we mentioned above there are other marketing efforts that you can implement to help drive traffic to your site. The more you get your brand and your website in front of people, the better. All you need to do is make your website more visible to your audience, which means showing up where your audience is.

There are some basic marketing moves that you can make that will help drive traffic to your site. These include:

  • Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.)
  • SEO through blogs and your website
  • Networking
  • Digital Advertising  
  • Print Advertising (direct mailers, business cards, signage, etc.)

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If the idea of branding, building a website, and marketing your business sounds overwhelming–have no fear! CAST Design Team is ready to take that stress away, so you can focus on the part of your business you love. Our team is comprised of professionals ready to brand, build, and market your business to success. Don’t waste any time, contact us today for a free consultation

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The Best Approach to Building a Website

The Best Approach to Building a Website:

Hiring a Professional Web Designer or Creating a DIY Website

The Best Approach to Building a Website:

Hiring a Professional Web Designer or Creating a DIY Website

Often time when starting out on your entrepreneurial journey you want to save as much money as possible, so you take to doing many things on your own. Through the process, you find that somethings you’re just naturally good at, even though they’re outside of your typical wheelhouse, and other times you find that you’re just absolutely terrible at them. Let’s face it. You’re an expert in your field, and if your field isn’t marketing, web design, or user experience, then you’re probably not going to be great at those things, especially when it comes to the more technical side like building a website. Sure, you could create a DIY (Do It Yourself) website – but when you use platforms like GoDaddy, Weebly, Wix and Squarespace, you don’t really own your website. And also, to be quite frank, it probably took you five times as long to create something that’s subpar to what a professional web designer could have done, in turn wasting both time and money.

Using a professional web designer has its perks. These individuals have a deeper understanding of user experience, which allows them to extract the right information from your brand or company to include on the website, providing the user with the most complete experience. A professional knows not only how to design a website, but how also to generate sales from it.

To give you an idea of a few of the things that professional web designers, like those at CAST Design Team, take into consideration when building a website, we’ve included a list of terms below. Knowing these terms will help you understand the importance of hiring a professional and communicate better with your web designer once you hire them.

Terms to Know

CTA

The CTA or Call to Action is a clear encouragement to the audience to take action. One of the best and most common examples is the “click here” button. We often see this button or hyperlink shrewdly placed on several sites. Some CTAs are more effective than others, like: learn more, sign-up, book now, download. CTAs are very effective, especially when you use “Power Words” which are words that will get the attention of your audience. The best web designers know which power words to use where. The user flow from one page to another is important to get users down your sales funnel. CTAs can greatly help with this.

Why should you have CTAs?

  1. Clear Direction to Help the Audience Avoid Confusion and Make it Easier for Them to Navigate Your Website
  2. Direct Your Audience to Important Information that YOU want them to see
  3. Direct your Audience to Your Products and Boost Sales

SEO

Have you heard of SEO but not sure what it means? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the technique used to increase your organic (non-paid) ranking on search engines such as Google. That all still sounds a little vague and confusing. Well, to be honest, it will. SEO isn’t a simple task to complete and it doesn’t return results over night. While some people think SEO means adding a bunch of keywords to your website copy, it is much more than that. There are backend technical areas to address and a systematic way to include keywords into the front-end website copy.  

User Experience

We’ve mentioned User Experience a few times in this blog already. So now it’s time to dive into what it really means. User experience is about how a user feels when they’re actively searching your site and how they feel once they’ve left. User experience takes into consideration the values and needs of a customer. Bad user experience such as an unclear navigation bar or broken links can cause a user to exit the site sooner than intended. A good user experience can foster sales and leave customers happy and stress-free when leaving your site, in terms causing them to tell their friends about your company. Many things go into user experience such as technical navigation, usability, functionality, and how the overall design of the site incorporates the brand.

When you started reading this blog you were probably pretty certain that you could build a great DIY website, which Hey, you may be able to! But chances are, your business would greatly benefit from a website built by a professional.  So, are you ready to hire a web designer? We encourage you to take a look at the services we provide. We’re here to make this process as seamless and stress-free as possible. Let us know how we can help. We look forward to helping you communicate your vision through design!