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Improving Your Website’s SEO, Part 1

As the UX/UI Designer at The Wendt Agency, I am involved in developing websites for clients; from the concepting phase to taking them live. When working on website projects, I consider the fact that producing an attractive website is only one facet of what determines its overall success. Today, I’m going to delve a little deeper into what makes a website really stand out from its competition in search rankings: SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and how you can improve your website’s search rankings. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to SEO, or to make you a pro, but an article on how you should plan your SEO strategy for a new or existing website. Watch for more valuable tips and information when part two of this article is released.

Keyword Research

Whether you’re rebuilding a website or producing a new one from scratch, content is king, but that doesn’t mean your content should be king-sized. It’s important to understand what search engines are looking for and how you should plan your strategy. The first step should be researching your competition to determine what keywords their target audience uses to search for similar information, and see how well those keywords are performing. Keep in mind, the keyword or keyphrase, is the word or term someone will use in the search engine to find what they’re looking for. It’s very important to put yourself in the shoes of your audience during this stage.

To gain a better understanding of which keywords work best, you can view the search result’s metrics of your competition’s audience at https://trends.google.com/. Google has an SEO Ranking Checker that shows the rankings of the keywords or phrases your competitors are using for their search results at https://www.thehoth.com/search-engine-rankings/. You can also visit https://www.thehoth.com/seo-audit-tool/ to scan your site and compare the effectiveness of your keywords compared to your competitor’s websites. Once you have a better understanding of which keywords or phrases your audience and competition are using, you’ll be able to come up with an improved game plan for writing or editing your content.

Planning Your Content

Keywords and phrases should only be used once across the entire site and need to be strategically planned in each page’s content. Use clearly written paragraphs, headings, and subheadings, with only 1-2% of the content containing your keywords. Otherwise, if you saturate your content with keywords or phrases, Google will give those pages a lower score because its algorithm considers the copy as “keyword stuffed”. You also don’t want to duplicate copy on the website, which also includes keywords. Each page or post should focus on one aspect of your business, so your pages aren’t competing with themselves to outrank each other, which could cause more important pages to show up later in the results. If the content on a page makes reference to content that is currently on another page, use an internal bound link to that page rather than inserting duplicated text.

For example, if your website has an “About” page, it would be best to focus the content on that page based on the aspects that define your business, such as mission, core values, and strengths. If you would like to mention the businesses services on your “About” page, insert an internal bound link to “Services” rather than inserting duplicate content from that page. Then, on your “Services” page, detail the ways your business can help fulfill your customer’s goals.

Copywriting Dos and Don’ts

Beautiful photos and the right typography are great ways to make a website more appealing, but how will anyone find your website on Google if the content is poorly written? When coming up with new or editing existing content, you want to make sure that it’s well-written with a clear and informative message. Think of the main subject you want to discuss on your page or post and focus on what you want the keywords to be that are placed within the text.

Meta descriptions and focus keywords are the most important factor in how your page or post is displayed in the results. The meta description is the information that briefly explains what the page or post is about in search listings. You want it to be actionable, to the point, honest, and accurate so you have a unique message that your competitors aren’t using. Search engines also pick up on titles and subheaders and use those to help recognize what the page is about, so make sure to sprinkle keywords in both areas as it helps with readability.

Implementing Keywords, Phrases, and Meta Information

To get the most out of your SEO, I highly recommend using the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, which submits meta descriptions and focused keywords or phrases to search engines. There’s a free version that’s pretty basic but still effective. However, the premium version allows you to insert multiple keywords and phrases per page and also allows you to include synonyms of those, as long as you are keeping an eye on overstuffing the content. Both versions also allow you to analyze which keywords and phrases work best based on the content with a scoring system that displays how well that page will rank in the results and provides suggestions for areas of improvement.

Keep an eye out for part two of this discussion and more details on improving your content. Until then, I hope this gets your gears spinning and inspires you to begin working on improvements to your writing style.

Justin Porter, UX/UI Designer

The Wendt Agency

2021-04-15T13:20:32-06:00April 19th, 2021|Industry Trends, Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore have already had their say, and now…

Pantone picks a color of the year for 2021

And The Wendt Agency has some strong opinions about it

OK, let’s get this out of the way right up front – there are some of us here at The Wendt Agency who think Pantone is cheating with their 2021 Color of the Year since it isn’t A color, it’s TWO colors. Come on – the title clearly says color, singular.

However, we are aware that Pantone doesn’t really care what we think and they have been choosing a Color of the Year for a long time now. So, let’s all take a look at their picks – Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating. Basically, gray and yellow.

Girl wearing a gray shirt in front of a yellow background
The colors of Pantone's Pick for Color of the Year 2021

The official company news release calls this combo “A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.” Which – maybe? But that isn’t really the way the Wendt team sees it, because the negative reviews far outweigh the positive ones:

  • I’m digging it because of the perfect balance of the realism and softness of the gray with the brightness and hope of the yellow.
  • Love the gray, but unless you are a daffodil or a bumblebee, stay away from yellow; it’s the devil’s playground.
  • A message of strength? I guess I might put those colors in a home gym if I had one…
  • I hate the yellow and gray color combo – this was a big trend in design not that long ago and yellow is such a cop-out sunshine color. Stop ruining beautiful shades of gray with yellow!
  • Those are basically the colors of a Swiffer duster before and after dusting the entire house!

Still, as Business Insider reminds us, these Pantone picks do have a lot of influence and so, love them or loathe them, we will probably all be seeing a lot of them in 2021. You can get all the analysis here:

https://www.businessinsider.com/pantone-color-of-the-year-2021-consumer-products-impact-2020-12

This is probably a wrap on the picks for Color of 2021, and we’ve gone from Sherwin-Williams’ Urbane Bronze to Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal to Pantone’s Ultimate Gray and Illuminating duo. Not a lot of consistency across the choices, but that should mean there is truly a color for everyone in 2021!

2021-02-03T09:14:12-07:00December 16th, 2020|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

Aegean Teal: Color of 2021

Benjamin Moore selects Aegean Teal as the Color of 2021

Just a few short weeks ago we were talking about Sherwin Williams’ Color of 2021 — Urbane Bronze. Here we are with another contender! Benjamin Moore is weighing in and it sees something very different in our future, choosing a color called Aegean Teal.

This one is described as an “intriguing blue-green that creates natural harmony and invites us to reflect and rest” – Aegean Teal (2136-40).

Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore’s Director of Color Marketing & Development, says this is a color that can help provide people with a sense of stability in uncertain times.

Want to see examples of what it looks like? Check these out:

https://businessofhome.com/articles/benjamin-moore-reveals-color-of-the-year-2021

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/benjamin-moore-unveils-its-2021-color-of-the-year

A very unofficial poll of the Wendt office shows this color gets mixed reviews:

  • I like it – gender neutral, not too dark, not too warm – it’s flexible; almost the new beige!
  • I like it sometimes. I guess it depends on where you put it and what colors are around it.
  • Very institutional. Not my fav.

Perhaps the overall opinion at Wendt is summed up with: “Meh.”

But maybe Benjamin Moore was prepared for that because Aegean Teal, while their pick for Color of the Year 2021, is part of their overall Color Trends 2021 palette. That’s a total of 12 colors and hues all “rooted in elegant, handspun textures of the home”, providing us with several other options, in case Aegean Teal is not making an appearance in our living spaces.

Two down and at least one left. Watch this space in December when we expect Pantone to announce their pick for Color of the Year 2021. Maybe they will pick something the Wendt team can all agree on!

2021-02-03T09:13:02-07:00November 6th, 2020|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

Leading is not going it alone

Ahh, the fearless leader – striding forward, blazing a trail, thinking, and acting independently – basically going it alone. It is an image that seems to resonate with a lot of people, something baked into at least the American consciousness. But is it completely accurate? Isn’t it missing something?  Something like other people?

I recently graduated from the Leadership Montana Master’s Class, an 8-month program designed to help Leadership Montana alumni take a deeper dive into the concept of leadership and what it means to them. It was fascinating, challenging, overwhelming, eye-opening, and visionary all at once. I am still processing everything I learned and will be for quite a while. But one thing which really stood out to me during the final session in June was my new understanding of how empty leadership is without other people.

Of course, leadership means looking at issues in new ways, setting goals, creating a vision, reframing questions, building order out of confusion, etc. But why is a leader doing that? Is it just for internal satisfaction? Or is it to share the journey, to bring others forward, to create understanding and connection? As important as personal growth is, I do not think that is the end goal of leadership. I think leadership is finding ways to create a shared vision.

The process of leadership can be messy. It can involve a lot of false starts. It can need mid-course corrections and the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. But it must involve other people. It must be about that connection and creating a team dedicated to a common goal – a goal which is bigger than any single person, even the leader.

In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Carol Kruger, Senior Vice President
The Wendt Agency

2020-12-21T11:01:46-07:00August 7th, 2020|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

How well do you know your coworkers?

Just how well do you know your coworkers? Oh sure, you might know how Bill takes his coffee or how much Janet loves her golden retriever, but do you know if either of them would rather have telekinesis (the ability to move things with their mind) or telepathy (the ability to read minds)? If they’d prefer to be in a food fight or a water fight? These are the fascinating things you can learn when you play “Would You Rather?” The questions may be silly but the chance to bond over a shared interest in Marvel movies or the joys of living in a tree house is no joke – it’s a great way to build connection. We started playing “Would You Rather” while we were working remotely and decided to play another round and let you all learn a little bit about us – enjoy!

Would you rather team up with Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel?

I am a huge Marvel fan! I could explain in great detail why I would choose to team up with Captain Marvel, but it might take all day! - Tegan Bauer

Would you rather go backstage with your favorite band or be an extra on your favorite TV show?

Backstage with my favorite band! In fact, I have met the members of some of my favorite bands, including visiting on the tour bus with a very eccentric rock star. I still haven’t met my favorite rock star, but I’ve come close by meeting his wife. - Kara Smith

Would you rather communicate only in emoji or never be able to text at all ever again?

Well, I would communicate in emoji! Since many in my family are deaf, I communicate and think in symbolic systems/gestures/ASL all the time so it’s not that different. 🤩🤓👍🏻🗣🙋🏼‍♀‍🧏🏻‍♀‍🙊🙉🙈🤟🏼💪🏻🙌🏼🤐🤗🧐🦄 This is “starry eyed nerd feeling positive speaking out to you. Yes you. Using my deaf skills to say nothing, hear nothing, see nothing... with love to everyone, staying strong, praise up, zipping my lips, hugs all around, I know it’s weird, I’m weird...because I’m a rainbow heart unicorn. Kiss” 😘 - Pamela Bennett

Would you rather go back to the past and meet your loved ones who passed away or go to the future to meet your children or grandchildren to be?

Go back to the past and meet a loved one who passed away. There is so much we can learn from those who have gone before us and by spending time with someone whose life directly impacted mine, I can gain insight that I can then pass onto my children. Also, my family is made up of some colorful characters and I would love to hear their stories first hand! - Jennifer Beisecker

Would you rather win $25,000 or your best friend win $100,000??

If either I or my best friend won any amount of money we would split it with each other, so it would benefit us both if she won. - Haley Thomas

Would you rather walk to work in heels or drive to work in reverse?

Drive to work in reverse, than walk to work in heels. Since we live 28 miles outside of Great Falls, I’m guessing walking to work in heels would take me at least 10 hours. Plus, my tootsies would never forgive me! Driving in reverse, no problem! - Brenda Peterson

Would you rather have a pause or a rewind button in your life?

Have a rewind button so I could spend more time with loved ones and friends I’ve lost. I’d love to relive family vacations to Glacier, Yellowstone, and both coasts, as well as enjoy family holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, and birthdays. Those are the activities I miss the most as I grow older and my family grows smaller. - Justin Porter

Would you rather look strong and be weak or look weak and be strong?

Look weak and be strong. I’ve been underestimated by others in the past for various tasks and I’m always delighted to see the looks of surprise on their faces when they discover that they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. - Merle McLeish

Would you rather travel the world for free for a year or have $50,000 to spend however you please?

Travel the world for free for a year. Even if I had $50,000 to spend however I please, there is always the pressure of spending it on bills or other life responsibilities. Imagine the places you could see, the things you could do, the food you could eat, the memories you could make - all while traveling the world (for free!) for an entire year. AMAZING! - Jennifer Fritz
Johnny-Interior

Would you rather master every musical instrument or every type of sport?

Master every musical instrument. Music has always been such a positive influence for me and if I could master every musical instrument, I would be content being able to not only entertain myself, but others for the rest of my life. - Johnny Ewald

Would you rather stay in during a snow day or build a fort?

No offense to the wonder of engineering which is the snow fort but…inside has coffee, blankets, books, Netflix, slippers, snacks, streaming music services, and a lovely view of the snow outside that I can enjoy while staying warm! - Carol Kruger

Would you rather spend a day cleaning your worst enemy’s house or have your crush spend the day cleaning your house?

My crush is my husband, and I would REALLY like to see him cleaning house all day! I would take videos. - Lorie Hager

Would you rather be chronically under-dressed or overdressed?

If by chronically overdressed you mean Prada at Albertson’s, Tom Ford at Petco, Versace at a BBQ, or Gucci at Borrie’s, then sign me up. Oh, and the shoes! A fancy Louboutin will elevate any outfit. Overdressed. Every. Time. - Johna Wilcox

Would you rather never get another present in your life but always pick the perfect present for everyone else or keep getting presents but giving terrible ones to everyone else?

Giving gifts or sending a random card to friends or family has always been something that brings me joy. I love seeing the smile on their face when they open it! - Sheena Annala

2020-07-30T11:19:50-06:00July 22nd, 2020|Culture, Industry Trends|0 Comments

The Importance of WordPress Security

The Important of WordPress Security Featured Image

As Wendt’s UX/UI Designer, a focus of mine is to look at ways to enhance security on our clients’ websites. There are many tools available to increase security and decrease the likelihood of your site being hacked. Following are some best practices and resources to assist with this.

Create a Unique Username

The most common usernames are those that use the name of a business, a person’s first name, or ‘admin’, and those are what most hackers start with when trying to access a WordPress website. Therefore, it’s important to choose a username that is unique and not predictable. To view a great article that will help discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of WordPress usernames, visit https://tinyblueorange.com/wordpress-usernames/. There are also other ways hackers find usernames, which is why generating a random password is your next line of defense.

Generate a Random Password

WordPress has the ability to generate strong and secure passwords with up to 25 characters using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. You will generate your own password when first setting up your profile but are able to edit your password after you have created your account. In fact, updating your password frequently can help strengthen the security of your site.

Having a hard time coming up with a strong password? There are plenty of password generators available on the web, including 1password.com/password-generator. The more obscure the password, the better! Writing your password on a note at your desk is definitely not the best way to keep a password on file. If you’re the only person using your computer and that’s your main method of accessing the back end of your website, you can select ‘remember me’ below the password field on your login screen. You can also save your password on your internet browser or use an online password manager.

Limit Login Attempts

Add another layer of security by limiting the amount of login attempts that can be used before being locked out for a period time. Though the lockout isn’t permanent, this is a great way to frustrate and limit potential hackers. For most WordPress websites, this ability is already built into the settings. However, for some older sites, you can use a plugin called Limit Login Attempts Reloaded which will give you the same protection.

Changing the URL of the Login Page

By default, the login page for a WordPress website is www.yoursite.com/wp-admin. Since that’s the first place a hacker will go to log in, consider changing that URL. WPS Hide Login, is a helpful plugin which allows you to safely change the URL of the login page.

Final Thoughts

Technology is always evolving and hackers are always finding new ways to infiltrate people’s sites. However, if you adopt WordPress security best practices, you will be significantly reducing the opportunity for someone to access your site.

Justin Porter, UX/UI Designer
The Wendt Agency

2021-02-03T09:15:40-07:00June 9th, 2020|Industry Trends, Wendt Buzz|0 Comments

A Q&A Session About Marketing Part 2

We are back with more answers to the most-searched questions about marketing as determined by Google’s Autocomplete.

Q: How marketing agencies get clients?

A: By doing excellent work and strategic outreach. Marketing firms are constantly sharing their story – in meetings, on websites, through social media, in an RFP (request for proposal) – and showcasing their expertise. We know the importance of getting the word out about our skills!

Q: How marketing helps sales?

A: Marketing can analyze consumer data to build an understanding of the ideal or potential customer – likes, dislikes, communication styles, media usage, buying cycle, etc. – and create a customized marketing outreach program to bring those customers to the sales team.

Q: How marketing benefits our society?

A: It brings products and services to people’s attention, helping them find things which will make their lives easier. It helps businesses find the customers they need to succeed. It builds ongoing communication between people and businesses to benefit both.

Q: How marketing has evolved?

A: It has become more sophisticated and research based. Successful marketing is not about just throwing a message out there to anyone and everyone. It is a strategically based style of communication involving businesses and consumers in an ongoing two-way communication.

That’s it for this edition but you never know, we might be back with more in the future, so you’ll want to keep checking out our blog!

2020-06-03T11:26:21-06:00June 3rd, 2020|Clients, Industry Trends, Uncategorized, Work|0 Comments

A Q&A Session About Marketing Part 1

Google’s Autocomplete is a great way to speed up your search results since it helps fill in your request with popular queries. We were inspired by the WIRED Autocomplete series and decided to try our hand at answering the web’s most-searched marketing questions. And, people seem to have a lot of questions so, here is part one and you can look for part two in the future!

Q: How Marketing Works?

A: By creating awareness and interest in specific companies, products, charities, ideas, services, or experiences. People cannot buy new tires or set up a 529 college savings account if they do not know their options. Strategic marketing spreads the word and gets people talking.

Q: How marketing is changing?

A: Every day in every way! Marketing cannot stand still. It needs to constantly adapt to the ways people are communicating. Reaching the modern consumer is a complicated undertaking based on research, strategy, and using multiple media outreach channels.

Q: How marketing has changed over time?

A: Marketing has been around for centuries, adapting to changes in how we live and communicate. In our increasingly interconnected world, that means increasing digital marketing efforts to find people where they learn, work, and socialize online.

Q: How marketing and sales work together?

A: Marketing creates the awareness and interest while sales works to sell the specific product, service, or experience. Ideally, both work together to create a seamless interaction with the customer, so interest leads to knowledge which can increase sales and repeat purchases.

If you have a question about marketing, let us know in the comments!

2020-06-03T11:18:32-06:00May 6th, 2020|Clients, Industry Trends, Uncategorized, Work|0 C