Category Archives: Zenergy Works Blog

AI-Driven Website Optimization: Zenergy Works’ Strategy for the SGE Era

AI-Driven Website Optimization

Zenergy Works’ Strategy for the SGE Era

In the world of online marketing, staying ahead of the curve is paramount. The latest paradigm shift comes in the form of Google’s Search Generative Experiences (SGE), a groundbreaking AI-driven initiative. While SGE promises to revolutionize the search landscape, it also raises concerns about the future of search traffic.

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Fortunately, we at Zenergy Works are skilled at adopting new tools and approaches to keep ahead of the ever-changing landscape of website optimization and SEO. Here’s how we’re using AI to assess our clients’ websites and determine which adjustments are needed to help them stay competitive in Google’s new search feature.                                                 

SGE and Its Potential Impact on Search Traffic

 (SERP). This shift towards a conversational and information-rich experience began when Microsoft integrated Chat GPT with Bing, which resulted in a notable surge in user engagement. Google’s response was to introduce SGE into the SERP to provide users with comprehensive responses that keep them within the search results.

While this is certainly a more direct way to search and receive the information a user is searching for, it’s sparked concern over its potential impact on search traffic. Not only does SGE mean that organic listings are pushed further down the page, but users no longer necessarily need to visit a website to get the information they’re looking for.

Our Approach: Leveraging AI for Website Optimization

As AI technology continues to advance, we’ve embraced it as a valuable tool for understanding and navigating the ever-changing world of online search, particularly in response to Google’s SGE—another form of AI.

We’ve recently begun using AI to evaluate our clients’ websites and identify the changes needed to help them stay competitive within Google’s new search feature. This process involves instructing the AI to provide assessments and analyze websites to see how well they align with the new SGE guidelines. The AI doesn’t stop at evaluation; it also provides practical recommendations to enhance website performance.

Our AI-driven assessments primarily concentrate on website content, where it meticulously analyzes specific criteria and parameters to generate valuable recommendations. Here are two examples of what we look for and how AI assists us in making improvements:

  • Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T): We assess the expertise and authority of the content, ensuring it aligns with one of the key aspects of Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines: E-E-A-T. If the AI detects a need for improvement in expertise or authority, we recommend actions like implementing reviews, certificates, or licensing information to enhance credibility.
  • Conversational Tone: We analyze the presence of conversational elements that can enhance local search visibility. When the AI identifies opportunities to enhance the conversational tone, we may suggest the incorporation of phrases like “near me” or “nearby” to better align with user search behaviors.

While our AI-driven assessment process is still relatively new, our commitment to delivering exceptional results for our clients remains unwavering. As online search evolves, Zenergy Works is your partner in staying ahead of the curve. By leveraging AI to stay current with the latest guidelines, including those related to SGE, we diligently work to ensure your website maintains a high level of visibility and competitiveness in the ever-changing digital arena.

Google’s Core Vitals Are Changing — Get Ahead of the Curve to Secure Your Rankings

Google’s Core Vitals Are Changing

Get Ahead of the Curve to Secure Your Rankings

In the ever-evolving online landscape, one factor has become increasingly critical in influencing search rankings: user experience. To evaluate user experience, Google relies on its Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics that gauge real-life user experience by evaluating page speed, interactivity, and the visual stability of web pages. However, Google’s Core Vital’s are changing.

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One such metric, First Input Delay (FID), has long been the standard for determining page load responsiveness. However, a seismic shift is on the horizon as Google announced it’s preparing to replace FID with Interaction to Next Paint (INP) in March 2024. 

Understanding the Shift from FID to INP

FID measures how fast a website responds when a user clicks a button or interacts with other elements on the page. This metric specifically focuses on the initial interaction and assesses the speed at which the site reacts to the user’s input.

INP is similar, but it doesn’t just measure response time after a button is clicked. Instead, it looks at the overall responsiveness and interactivity— how long it takes the website to react after a user clicks, fulfill the user’s request, and display the updated result. Unlike FID, which concentrates on the initial interaction, INP encompasses all interactions throughout a user’s journey on a webpage and identifies the interaction with the longest delay.

Moving from FID to INP will give Google a more comprehensive view of how interactive and responsive a website is. Essentially, the smoother and faster a website works, the better the user experience—and the more worthy it is of being ranked higher in search results. 

Implications for Search Rankings

This upcoming change underscores Google’s commitment to prioritizing a seamless user experience—and given the early announcement, it’s likely to have a significant impact on search rankings. It’s essential to take proactive steps before the update rolls out in March to stay ahead of the curve.

Websites that have already been optimized for INP are unlikely to encounter any changes to rankings. However, websites that have prioritized FID optimization will need to pivot towards INP, which demands a broader focus on responsiveness throughout the entire user session.   

Recommendations for Preparing for the INP Era

Here are some crucial steps to take to prepare your website for the shift from FID to INP:

  1. Upgrade Server Environments: Evaluate and upgrade your server environment if needed, especially if you’re using hosting services with minimal resources, like GoDaddy. A robust server infrastructure is essential to handle the increased demands of INP.
  1. Evaluate Interactivity: Assess and improve interactivity beyond the initial page load. This includes optimizing transitions between pages and addressing issues like slow-loading images.
  1. Real User Measurements (RUM): Enable Real User Measurements monitoring to collect field data on INP. This data is invaluable for understanding user interactions and identifying optimization opportunities.
  1. Analyze INP Data: Do a deep dive into INP data to pinpoint areas that require optimization. Focus on reducing input delay, streamlining processing time, and minimizing presentation delays. To provide a good user experience and meet Google’s Core Web Vitals criteria, your INP needs to be below 200 milliseconds.
  1. Optimization Recommendations: Implement strategies such as breaking up JavaScript tasks, minimizing DOM interactions, reducing timers, and limiting third-party code.

For some websites, this may require updating an older more code-heavy theme to improve load times.

Embracing the shift of Google’s Core Vitals

Transitioning from FID to INP is a strategic necessity for sustaining or boosting search rankings. As a precautionary measure, you should take a comprehensive approach to optimization by addressing not only technical aspects but also user-centric elements. Identifying what slows down your website’s responsiveness is key. Conduct tests, observe user interactions, and seek guidance from a web developer if needed.

So, by embracing the shift to INP and proactively optimizing your website, you can ensure a positive user experience that aligns with the latest major update in Google’s evolving search ranking criteria. 

If you need guidance on navigating the shift from FID to INP for your website, Zenergy Works offers free initial consultations. Reach out to us today—we’re here to support your online success. 

How Can Digital Marketing Help Grow My Business?

How Can Digital Marketing Help Grow My Business?

When it comes to growing your business, tapping into the power of digital marketing is a game-changer. However, for your efforts to be most effective, it’s essential to understand the wide range of digital marketing tactics available and what they have to offer

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When you employ multiple tactics simultaneously, your digital marketing strategy becomes a robust toolkit that propels your business’s growth forward and becomes a driving force behind its success. 

For example, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps improve organic search placement, while paid ads (primarily on Google and Bing) ensure immediate visibility by placing your business at the top of the search engine results pages. This combination gives you both long-term visibility through SEO and instantaneous visibility through paid advertisements—ultimately driving more traffic and potential customers to your website. 

Email marketing uses an organic collection of customer email addresses to stay in touch with existing and prospective customers; social media marketing utilizes social media platforms frequented by your customer profiles to promote your unique selling proposition, brand image, and products. 

Our digital marketing strategies focus on building sales while improving your company image and brand recognition; these proven tactics can be effectively applied to any business, whether B2C, B2B, retail, or a professional service. 

Leveraging Digital Marketing to Build Sales

SEO and Paid Search Ads on Google and Bing have immense potential in terms of driving sales. These techniques specifically target keyword searches used by potential customers who have moved past the casual browsing phase and are ready to make purchase decisions:

  • Keyword research: Understanding what your potential customers are searching for is key to visibility. Conduct comprehensive keyword research to identify the terms and phrases your audience uses when looking for products or services like yours.
  • Highlighting key products and services: Showcase your most popular and profitable offerings; this will direct attention to them and increase the likelihood of conversions. 
  • Create conversion-oriented landing pages: Develop dedicated landing pages focused on converting visitors to customers. These pages should contain clear, concise information about your products or services backed by testimonials from previous clients. Additionally, incorporating credibility statements focused on E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) will bolster customer confidence in your brand. 

Email marketing is a powerful, cost-effective way to announce promotions or incentives for new and improved products or services, as well as an opportunity to improve products or services through upsells. It serves as a direct line to your audience and encourages them to make purchases or take advantage of special offers. 

Social media is a less formal platform for driving sales and promotions. However, for your campaign to succeed, it’s crucial to provide useful and relevant information. Share content that helps your customers use your products or services more efficiently or offers valuable industry-specific tips. Once you’ve established credibility through your content, call-to-actions to purchase your products or engage your services will be more effective. 

Building Your Image and Brand Recognition

Not all SEO content needs to be sales-oriented. In fact, Google (and other search engines) view content that provides value to users as the best content—and therefore worthy of being ranked higher in the search results. 

In addition, valuable content that educates and informs your audience positions your firm as an esteemed authority in your field. Blog posts and FAQs are instrumental in sharing your knowledge and establishing credibility. 

Likewise, Paid Display and Performance Max campaigns aren’t solely about immediate conversions; they’re designed to reach a curated customer profile and expand brand recognition. While this isn’t meant to imply that you won’t receive conversions from this platform—you certainly will—you’ll also have the benefit of amplifying your visibility in a way that drives both immediate action and long-term familiarity with your brand. 

Email marketing is an excellent platform for distributing content to existing and potential customers already familiar with your business, whether it’s a new blog or essential updates. This regular engagement deepens your relationship with your customer base, fosters brand loyalty, and encourages repeat business—all of which are key to helping your company grow. 

Social media platforms offer a window into your company’s culture and values for those in your target markets, which allows you to forge online relationships and cultivate brand recognition among your target audiences. 

Crafting a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

While this guide doesn’t cover every digital marketing platform and its nuances, it does offer a general roadmap for crafting a successful digital marketing strategy. 

Keep in mind that the cornerstone of any successful digital marketing strategy lies in having a website that delivers a robust and seamless user experience; your website is the foundation that drives the success of all of these strategies and ties them all together. Learn more about creating a strong online presence here

SEO Blog Optimization Checklist

SEO Blog Optimization Checklist

The primary goal of any blog is to create unique and useful content. The strategies outlined here are designed to get content found in search engine results and help to build the reputation of the author of the blog content. The following is a very basic checklist designed to help with SEO Blog Optimization.

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Keyword Research

If you use tools from Google, Ahrefs or SEMrush, keyword research is a vital start to your blog process. It is the basic step of understanding how many searchers are interested in your blog topic, how competitive the keyword or keyword stream is in search results, and what related topics may be available to optimize in your blog post. It is also wise to check trending topics in search for the terms that you have chosen to optimize.

Quality Content

Content should use short sentences, short paragraphs and use simple words whenever possible. The content should be easy to read and convey a useful message.  E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) is also very important under current Google Guidelines. Be sure to write about what you know. Most of our blog topics are inspired by questions we get from our clients. Don’t be afraid to update past content as it becomes outdated.

On Page SEO

It is vitally important to create the following to optimize your blog post: Title tag that contains the keywords and geo targets, a compelling and descriptive meta description to let online searchers see what your blog post is about and want to get the information that you provide in it, H1 tag that includes your target keywords and matches the Title Tag, alt text for images on the post-again to match your target keywords, and please include links to valuable information that matches the blog post on your website.

Backlinks

If you are optimizing for competitive keywords, you may consider building quality backlinks to fully complete SEO Blog Optimization. The links should be from relevant sites-a great guideline is to only build links that a human being is likely to find in relevant online searches and use to reach your content.

Conclusion

This checklist is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to introduce you to the general practices for SEO Blog Optimization. For a more in depth discussion of this topic please see optimizing your blog for SEO on SEMRush.

I know that our firm struggles with being consistent with blog posts, but that is one of the keys to success and staying relevant in search results.

If you have additional questions about SEO, please see our white paper on Local SEO Optimization  
Eric Van Cleave is CEO and Digital Director for Zenergy Works, A Santa Rosa California SEO Firm.

SMS Marketing: How to Get Started

How to build an SMS Marketing List

I have heard from many clients who are eager to get started with text message marketing because they’ve heard SMS messages have a 98% open rate. Unfortunately, that statistic doesn’t tell the full truth about how SMS marketing campaigns work. 

The first step is to build an SMS marketing list. According to the Mobile Ecosystem Forum, only 25% of smartphone users want to receive marketing messages via text. The 25% of customers who will sign up right away can’t come at the expense of the other 75%. 

Building an SMS marketing list requires clear communication with customers before they will be ready to enter their phone numbers into a form. It’s about building trust through transparency and then giving your customers a reason to subscribe. 

6 TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED WITH SMS MARKETING

1. Find a platform

Any SMS marketing plan starts by finding a platform to help you manage your SMS list and stay in compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

2. Check your TCPA compliance

The TCPA, which applies to marketing calls and text messages, makes it illegal to contact consumers without explicit consent. The best way to comply with TCPA is via a double opt-in process. After someone adds their number to receive SMS marketing, send a text with a code they must use to receive further communications. 

Here are some of the TCPA guidelines to be aware of: 

  • To be compliant, texts must be sent between 8 AM and 9 PM in a customer’s local time zone. 
  • You can’t send a marketing text messages to anyone on the national Do Not Call registry.
  • Every message must include your company’s name.
  • Every message must tell users how they can opt-out.
  • 13 states (AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IN, NJ, ND, OK, RI, UT, WA, and WI) have their own laws governing text messages. Review the applicable laws to make sure that you are in compliance.

3. Be transparent about your plans for SMS

Avoid customer annoyance by clearly communicating what someone is signing up for before asking for their phone number. Tell your customers how often you’ll text and what you’ll send them.

The best way to communicate this clearly is to set up a page people can visit to learn the details of your texting program and your privacy policy. You can then send the link to customers as part of the opt-in message, so they’ll know all the terms before joining the list.

4. Build an SMS list

You’ll want to consider how to drive sign-ups through all marketing campaigns on your:

  • Website
  • Emails
  • Social media

As a rule, the easier it is to opt-in to your SMS list, the more likely people will do it. Try pop-ups or a form embedded in your email. 

You can also build your SMS list during in-person interactions. Offering consumers a chance to sign up while they’re browsing your store or at the checkout register gives them the opportunity to ask staff about your program. If you attend or host events, consider setting up a phone number collection program there.

Keyword campaigns instruct customers to text a certain word or phrase to your short code to sign up for your text message list. They’re one of the most popular ways to get sign-ups, likely because they work well across all mediums. 

5. Give your customers a reason to sign up

Your customers won’t sign up if they don’t have a good reason to do so. Make people excited to join your SMS list by offering a reward for signing up. Here are some incentives that have worked for others:

Offer a VIP club or insider program

Your most loyal customers will love a program that offers them ongoing perks. The benefits of your VIP program will depend on your brand and sales model, but it should offer perks your customers can’t get any other way. Access to pre-sales, birthday rewards, and free shipping are all great options.

Exclusive text message deals or contests

You can also create an ongoing text message deals program with offers exclusive to those on your SMS marketing list. You may also run contests for prizes that are also exclusive to those on your SMS list. 

6. For best results, combine SMS marketing with other channels 

SMS is great for certain marketing efforts, but its limits to message length (160 characters) and reach mean that it can’t do everything for you. You will not abandon email marketing for SMS marketing in most instances, but your marketing strategy should constantly evolve to communicate with your customers through the medium that is most comfortable for them.

Google My Business: Vicinity Update

A new Google Algorithm update, currently referred to as the Vicinity Update, which primarily affects Google My Business Listings, was rolled out by Google between approximately November 30th and December 8th of 2021. Google confirmed the update on December 16th.

The primary effect that this update has had on rankings is that proximity to the search has become a more important factor, making it more difficult for a business to rank for searches far away from their business location. Previously, this could be accomplished through the use of keywords within the listing and creating strong rankings in SERP (search engine results page) in locations farther away from the location of the business.

At about the same time that the Vicinity update was released, Google made design changes to the local pack, or listing of Google My Business Listings in SERP. The redesigned results will feature a list of three results on the left with a map on the right. The old design—which features three results below a map, has been in place since at least 2016.

Google’s guidelines have not changed much, the algorithm determines SERP results based on relevance, distance, and prominence. Google also suggests that in order to boost visibility, local businesses should:

  • Verify locations
  • Add photos
  • Manage and respond to reviews
  • Enter complete data

As always, Google’s intent with the update is to improve search results for local search. Unfortunately, many local businesses have suffered because of the algorithm change. To survive and thrive, local businesses will have to continue to adapt to the landscape and closely adhere to the guidelines in order to achieve sustainable search success. 

Please reach out to us directly at www.zenergyworks.com if you have any questions on this or any other SEO or digital marketing questions. We will always do our best to help.

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