Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

All Resources by Lindsay Halsey

blogging with a notebook and computer

How to Think of Blog Post Ideas

June 5, 2021

You are ready to blog! Now it's time to think of blog post ideas. This is the fun part. In this post, we'll share a few tips so you never are wondering what to blog about again.

Grab a piece of paper so you can start brainstorming blog post ideas as you go. You might be surprised and have a list of 10 or 20 posts to jumpstart your blog.

How to Think of Blog Post Ideas

Tip #1 – Start with your Customer's Frequently Asked Questions

If the goal of your blog is to reach new customers, start by thinking about your current customers. The best way to find high-quality prospects is to look to your current customers.

Do you find yourself answering the same customer questions over and over? This is common. At Pathfinder, we integrate SEO coaching into our software and our coaches get asked similar questions each day. Each one of these questions is ripe for a blog post.

Your customer likely searched for their question on Google before reaching out and asking you. Make sure you have the content on your blog that answers these frequently asked questions. It's a great place to start.

Plus, you'll be creating a resource library that you can point your customers to in the future so that you don't have to answer the same question hundreds of times.

Tip #2 – Turn to Google Search Suggest

Go to google.com and enter in a two-word search relevant to your service or product. Pause before leaving the search bar and you'll see Google fill in suggestions of what you might be interested in.

This is a great way to get blog post topic ideas. After all, Google Search Suggest is powered by the searches that people enter each day.

Tip #3 – Look at the People Also Asked Questions

Go to google.com and enter in a two-word search relevant to your service or product. Scroll down to see if there is a “People Also Ask” block. If so, you'll see questions people searched for that are related to the topic at hand.

Click on one of these and you'll see more options. Google is trying to answer your questions directly on the search engine results page so that the searcher continues to search on Google. While this can be frustrating for marketers who are trying to get traffic to a website, these questions are great inspirations for blogging. You might even find your blog post featured in the People Also Asked section of the search results.

Tip #4 – Check out Answer the Public

Navigate to answerthepublic.com and enter a two-word phrase related to your products and services. This nifty tool will generate questions, comparisons, and more.

Answer the Public is a great way to break a complex topic into smaller topics so that you can follow our next tip.

Tip #5 – Create a Series

In the previous tips, we started with a seed phrase like “local SEO” or “Miami vacations”. We came up with ideas for different blog post topics around each of these keywords. We could create one, massive blog post that tackles the topic fully. Google does like comprehensive (long) content after all.

But, in some cases, like “local SEO”, a definitive guide approach would be totally overwhelming. There is just way too much to write about to create that guide. When you come across these massive content topics or a pattern, you can create a series of posts. Let's look at two examples.

You may not realize it, but you are in the middle of a series of blog posts we created about blogging. Blogging is a huge topic. A definitive guide would be totally exhausting for both the author and the reader. Instead, we broke the topic into a series of posts including:

You can take one theme and turn it into 5, 10, or even more posts by tackling the specifics in bite-sized pieces.

Here's another example. Let's say you are writing for a vacation rental company in Miami. You may have discovered that people search for “Miami in June” and “Miami in February”. A good portion of these searchers may be in the very early stages of planning a vacation. You could create a series of twelve blog posts – one for each month – that all follow the same format. Maybe they look at the weather at that time of year along with what there is to do such as events. Then, you can have calls to action within the blog post that encourage people to plan their vacation.

Tip #6 – Put Yourself in Your Customers' Shoes

Our last tip is to put yourself in your customer's shoes. Think about what they might be looking for before they need your product or service.

For example, if you are relocating to a new city you might be looking for real estate. But, before you do, you search for “Chicago real estate” you start searching for phrases like “relocating to Chicago” or “best neighborhoods in Chicago”. By creating content about these topics, you can get in front of a prospect before they enter in that super competitive phrase “Chicago real estate”.

What to Blog About

By now, you should have a long list of topic ideas for future blog posts. Turns out brainstorming blog posts can be fun!

It's time to create a content calendar. It's by turning this list of ideas into a calendar that you can get on a committed schedule. It's that steady commitment to writing and publishing that will make your blog a success. Learn how to create a content calendar.

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How Often Should You Blog?

June 4, 2021

How often you should blog for SEO depends on a variety of internal and external factors. Let's explore these in more detail.

Your Competition

Start by looking at the competition. Who are your top 3-5 competitors online? Do they blog? If so, how often?

The cadence that your competition publishes new content gives you a sense of what it will take to be successful in your industry space.

In some industries such as local businesses, a monthly post may be appropriate. In others, you may be looking at weekly or even daily blogging as the competitive norm.

Evaluate your Resources

Just because your competition publishes a daily blog, doesn't mean that your business will have the resources to do so.

Let's say that each blog post request 3-4 hours to write, edit, publish, and promote. If your team has 10 hours per month to invest in blogging, then you certainly can't commit to a daily blog.

There are ways to expand your internal resources by outsourcing pieces of your blog post production or hiring a content marketing agency. Learn more about outsourcing and content marketing agencies here.

Of course, even with outsourcing, you'll still need to evaluate your resources. In this case, you'll want to know how much money you can invest and what that will equate to in terms of blogging frequency.

Quality over Quantity

When it comes to blogging, it's more about the quality of each post, than the number of posts being published.

A quality blog post is:

  • Easy to read
  • Grammatically sound
  • Written on a specific topic
  • Comprehensive
  • Unique
  • Includes images and/or video
  • Easy to skim thanks to thoughtful headers

When exploring your competitors' blogs, you may have noticed some businesses that blog frequently but the posts are of low value. Maybe they are short or perhaps they are a series of long paragraphs making it difficult to scan and read. You can focus your efforts on the quality of the content, and worry less about the number of posts being published each month.

Commit to the Schedule

Have you ever seen a blog that hasn't been updated in over a year? Maybe you noticed that a company blogged every week for ages and then went silent. While it's likely that the business simply got busy, it does create a moment of pause. Perhaps they are out of business?

The most important component of blogging is committing to a steady schedule. You might be really excited today about blogging and start with a daily post only to need to invest your efforts elsewhere in the months down the road.

Instead, be honest with yourself about your commitment and resources. Choose a schedule that is realistic and then stick to it month in, month out.

What's Next?

It's time to brainstorm topics for your blog posts so that you can create a schedule and get writing. Here's how to think of SEO-friendly blog post ideas.

 

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blogging on a keyboard with coffee

Does My Website Need a Blog?

June 1, 2021

You may have heard that blogging is good for SEO. This is true, but whether your site needs a blog or not is a more nuanced question.

Let's start at the beginning.

What is a Blog?

A blog is a regularly updated website or section of a website that is written in a casual or conversational style. Blogs are updated regularly with new material. Each blog post is date stamped. A site can be 100% blog posts or can be a blend of page content along with a blog.

Why is Blogging Good for SEO?

The search engines love content. Because content is the basis of a blog, blogging is considered good for SEO.

More specifically, blogging is good for SEO because it:

  • Enables you to frequently update your content. This keeps your website current. The search engines value a site that is ever-evolving and thus the steady content expansion that comes with blogging is naturally good for SEO.
  • Encourages the sharing of expertise. Content shares your expertise and it's this expertise that Google values.

Blogging is an Investment

Blogging is good for SEO and thus you'd assume that a blog would be a must for all site owners who care about traffic from Google.

But before starting to blog, consider the investment. Blogging is also a commitment. You have to create a content strategy, write regularly, edit content, publish the content, and promote it across social media, and more.

Before starting a blog, we need to weigh the costs and benefits.

Benefits of Blogging

Blogging enables you to grow the traffic to your website. In many ways, it creates long-term capital. Take for example the blog post on our website about which WordPress SEO plugin is best.

It drives approximately 300 new visitors to our website each month. Over the course of a year, that adds up.

These visitors come to the post via keywords – the words and phrases our prospects are searching for on Google. Via our blog, we have the opportunity to share expertise and grow brand awareness. With each visitor, we can promote calls to action that encourage lead generation and new sales.

As a guided SEO platform, one of our audiences is site owners who are trying to grow the traffic to their own websites. They are investing in do-it-yourself SEO and as a result, often turn to Google to search for how to do something. For example, “how to create an XML sitemap on WordPress”. We can meet this audience by creating how-to related content for SEO. Then, we can provide readers with the option to get even more training and education by becoming a customer and following our full SEO process.

In this close-to-home example, you can see that blogging is highly beneficial to a business like Pathfinder SEO.

This isn't always the case. Think about a dentist. If you were to move to a new city and you were looking for a new dentist, you'd likely search for “dentist near me” or “dentist in Seattle”. You'd look at the Google Maps listings, paying particular attention to the number and quality of reviews. You'd also look to proximity to your location. Then, you'd visit the website. You'd look through services and see if the particular service you need is available. For example, maybe a dentist who can provide care for your whole family. You'd look to the specific services pages and ideally, get reassured by reading testimonials. Maybe, you'd ask a few friends for recommendations. Then, you'd call to make your appointment.

Nowhere in that journey did you check out your new dentist's blog. Sure, a dentist has a lot of expertise to share. But, if the goal of the dentist's website is to get new patients, then a blog isn't a necessary step in the process.

Costs of Blogging

The primary cost of a blog is the time it takes to execute. Depending on your blogging schedule, you and your team will need to regularly write, edit, publish and promote.

You can calculate this cost by looking at the number of hours you will need to invest each month to maintain the blog.

Factor the costs alongside the benefits before committing to blogging.

Does my Website Need a Blog?

In addition to weighting the costs and benefits, you can also use this framework to help you answer the question:

  • National to international audience … my customers are everywhere.
  • Your audience seeks your expertise via searches on Google.
  • Examples include a WordPress hosting company, an attorney, a real estate firm, and a wedding planner.
  • You serve local customers.
  • Your customers generally don't seek your expertise via searches on Google.
  • Examples include a restaurant, dentist, and auto shop.

Next Step

As SEOs, you can imagine that we do love blogging! We just suggest entering into it understanding what blogging can do for your business along with the investment it takes to be successful.

The next step is to determine how often you should blog. Learn more here.

STILL HAVE A QUESTION?

If you have more questions about this, feel free to reach out.

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How to Perform an SEO Audit

May 19, 2021

Maybe you've heard of SEO Audits – they normally are pages and pages of a report highlighting every single thing wrong with your site. Even a site with 20-30 pages of content can create an SEO Audit that is 3-5 times that size.

We don't think that's very useful at all.

Instead of completing an SEO Audit, consider an SEO Assessment. An SEO Assessment takes hours, not weeks to complete. It isn't expensive and it isn't overwhelming.

An SEO Assessment is a high-level overview of a website's performance in organic search. It establishes a website's current status including strengths and opportunities. Most importantly, it creates a roadmap for growth.

In this post, learn how to perform an SEO Assessment.

What's Included in an SEO Assessment

SEO Assessments include three primary components:

  • Education – Introduce your client to the world of SEO. Our goal is to make SEO easily accessible. The time you invest to educate at the beginning of an SEO partnership is invaluable; it demonstrates the high value of your SEO services and reassures your clients that they have partnered with the right agency.
  • Evaluation – We observe your client's website from 1,000 feet up to identify its SEO-related strengths and weaknesses. We break our evaluation into four topics: technical SEO, content, on-site optimization, and off-site SEO.
  • Roadmap – As we evaluate a website, we identify action items. Together, these action items become a roadmap for growth. Your customer will walk away understanding their website's SEO strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to turn weaknesses into opportunities in future SEO projects.

How to Organize your SEO Assessment

At Pathfinder SEO, we follow a framework called the four pillars of SEO. This framework powers all communication, strategy development, and action items. It gives you scaffolding on which to build a holistic SEO campaign based on the findings in your Assessment.

The four pillars of SEO include:

  • Technical SEO
  • Content
  • On-Site Optimization
  • Off-Site SEO

If SEO is new to you, learn more about the four pillars of SEO before diving into your first SEO Assessment.

What You'll Need to Begin

To complete an SEO Assessment, you'll need:

  • Access to Google Analytics – Google Analytics allows you to see historic data about the performance of organic search as a marketing channel. Did the website encounter any major drops in traffic? Is it organic traffic steadily growing? How well does organic search traffic convert into leads and sales?
  • Access to Google Search Console – The Google Search Console is an invaluable tool for performing SEO Assessments. It provides insight into the keywords that are currently driving traffic in the Performance report. It also includes feedback from Google about how the site is being indexed in the Coverage report and Page Experience signals.
  • An SEO Assessment Template – A template makes it easy to systematically go through the most important components of each of the four pillars of SEO. It structures your Assessment and ensures you stay high-level and comprehensive at the same time. At Pathfinder SEO, we share an SEO Assessment template with our customers. Sign up and get access!

What You'll Deliver

The primary SEO Assessment deliverable is a PDF that outlines your findings. We can use the same template for every SEO Assessment, populating our findings as we go.

At the end of the Assessment, we suggest scheduling a one-hour meeting to walk your customer through your findings. We initially present the PDF during this meeting, then share it via email after.

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How to Perform an SEO Assessment

1. Onboard your client.

Star the SEO Assessment by asking your client questions and listening carefully to their answers. Here are a few of the questions we like to ask at the start of any SEO project:

  • How have you approached SEO in the past?
  • Describe your target audience. Who are you trying to reach?
  • Where are your customers located?
  • Who are your top 3 competitors?
  • What website platform do you use?
  • Do you have any plans for a site redesign or re-platform in the coming year?

Then, provide the customer with expectations around timing. When will they hear from you next? What do they need to do to help make the project a success?

2. Get access to Google Analytics and the Google Search Console.

As noted above, you'll need access to Google Analytics and the Google Search Console to complete a thorough analysis. Send your client an email requesting access to these portals. Note, that if you have Edit level access to Google Analytics, then you can often give yourself access to the Google Search Console.

3. Review current results.

Your goal is to understand the current landscape of the search results. Is this client at the beginning of their SEO journey (are they ranking only for their brand) or do they have a mature traffic base (are they driving traffic to service pages, product pages, or blog posts)? Have any sudden changes occurred (such as a drop in traffic after a site launch)?

To complete the Current Results section, invest 30-minutes to an hour exploring Performance data in GA and the GSC. Focus on the following:

  • What percent of traffic comes to the website via organic search? This is found in Google Analytics. There is no perfect answer here; typically, it'll be 50% or more of the total website traffic.
  • Do visitors from organic search have strong engagement? This is found in Google Analytics. Do visitors stay on site a reasonable amount of time, visit multiple pages during a session, and create a reasonable bounce rate?
  • What are the most popular organic landing pages? This can be found in Google Analytics or in the Performance report in the Google Search Console. These are the pages that drive the traffic.
  • Which keywords are driving visibility and traffic? Does the client rank #1 for any brand-related keywords? This can be found in the Performance report in the Google Search Console.

4. Analyze the site for technical SEO best practices.

It's time to assess the website's performance in terms of technical SEO. There are many factors at play; in our 1,000-foot assessment, we're going to focus on the most important technical SEO elements:

Robots.txt
This file tells the search engines which pages/content to avoid. We are looking for two things:
  • Does the site have a robots.txt file?
  • If so, does it have a good set of instructions?

Here's a great resource for understanding robots.txt files.

Each content management system (WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc) has its own standard robots.txt. Familiarize yourself with the default for your main content management system, then compare your client's robots.txt file.

Go to the yourdomain.com/robots.txt. Take a screenshot of the robots.txt file and drop-in in the slide. Then, review it. For the most part, we want a robots.txt file to have a short list of instructions. Simple is generally best.

A red flag is a robots.txt file that looks like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

This tells the search engines to not crawl any pages on the site. This is typically what you'll see in the robots.txt file for a website in development. If the site is live, then we want to remove the Disallow: /.

Common action items include:

  • No action is needed. Your site has a great robots.txt file.
  • Your site does not have a robots.txt file. We suggest creating one.
  • Immediate action is needed. Your robots.txt file is telling the search engines to avoid crawling your website. This should be updated because your website is live.
XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is the opposite of a robots.txt file. Think of it as a website's resume; an XML sitemap lists all of the pages/content that you would like the search engines to see.

Go to yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. This is the most common place an XML sitemap would be located. But, it could be called something else. If it's there, evaluate the XML sitemap.

When it comes to XML sitemaps, we evaluate the following:

  • Does the site have an XML sitemap?
  • Is it properly configured to include the content we want to be indexed?
  • Has the XML sitemap been submitted to Google via the Google Search Console? Check the Google Search Console to see if it has been both submitted and accepted.
  • Are the included content types high-value (ie, neither thin taxonomy nor duplicate pages)?

Common action items include:

  • Your site does not have an XML sitemap. Create one and submit it to Google via the Search Console.
  • Your site has an XML sitemap, but it needs to be configured. Currently, it includes thin or duplicate content. Once the sitemap has been edited, we recommend re-submitting it to Google via the Google Search Console.
  • Your site has an XML sitemap and it's great. Now, we need to submit it to Google via the Google Search Console.
  • Your site has an XML sitemap. It's great and has been submitted successfully to Google via the Google Search Console. No action required.
Speed
Speed is an increasingly important component of search engine algorithms. It's also challenging to address because Google continually changes the rules of the game and creates new benchmarks. When it comes to speed, good is good enough.

Mainly, we want to ensure that speed doesn't impact a user's experience of a website. If it does, then speed optimization is a high priority. We pay the most attention to Google's assessment of speed, which you can assess in one of two ways:

  • Google Search Console: The Core Web Vitals in the Google Search Console can assess performance according to Google's most important metrics. You'll get a sense of performance for the whole site versus just one page. Not every website has data in the Core Web Vitals section of the Google Search Console, though. Take a look and see.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights: This tool is a great way to get the current speed data for any web page.

For speed-related action items, you can be as specific as you'd like. Let the customer know how large of a priority this is and include any specific speed-related suggestions (like “utilize a CDN” or “change hosting to a premium hosting provider”) here.

Mobile Usability
As you know, the web is accessed on many different devices, from desktop computers to laptops to tablets and mobile phones. Mobile usability means that your site provides a great user experience, regardless of screen size.

The good news is that most websites already meet Google's mobile usability standards, thanks to modern design and CMS platforms. You should still double-check to confirm.

Go to the Google Search Console and review the Mobile Usability report. Note any pertinent findings in this slide.

Security
A secure website is a must! If an insecure website gets hacked, it will likely drop out of the search results. A great place to start is confirming the existence of a properly installed SSL certificate and making sure the site is accessed using HTTPS.

Use the Liquid Web SSL Checker to ensure your client meets this standard. Grab a screenshot to paste in this slide.

If your client doesn't have an ongoing web maintenance package for their website, the topic of security is a great upsell opportunity. All sites should have a plan for staying up-to-date and compatible with the latest themes, plugins, etc. in order to remain secure.

Errors
Google reports any issues discovered when crawling and indexing your website. These can be found under Coverage in the Google Search Console. Look at two types of errors for this Assessment:
  • Page Not Found Errors: Navigate to “Excluded” in the Coverage report of the Google Search Console. Look for “Not Found (404)”. Review those URLs included in this list. Document how many there are currently; 301 redirects are needed to repair them.
  • Broken Links: Scan your client's website using this handy broken link checker. Note how many errors are found. Each broken link will need to be fixed by going through the site and repairing/redirecting the hyperlink.
Summarize your Technical SEO Findings
At the end of the Technical SEO section of your Assessment, give your client a general overview of how they stack up in terms of technical SEO. Is technical SEO a strength or a weakness? Reiterate any action items from each of the six technical SEO aspects you assessed.

5. Evaluate the website's content.

Content is the backbone of SEO. It's how your client shares expertise online, and Google both looks for and rewards expertise. We can assess content according to the following four categories:

Quality – Well-written, unique content is a must. Content must also be comprehensive and tackle a subset of your client's expertise in-depth. Generally, comprehensive content has a high word count.

Keywords – Any web page needs to include the keywords for which you want it to rank. These keywords need to appear naturally in the content. Use the core keyword several times in a post and use secondary keywords once or twice. If the copy reads poorly due to keyword frequency, then it's overdone.

Recency – The search engines value websites with recent content. For some businesses (such as news sites), recency is a critical factor (think New York Times). For businesses who serve a national audience but are less time-sensitive, recent content is the key to relevancy (think Pathfinder SEO). For local businesses (like your local dentist), recency isn't as pressing.

Blogging is the most common way to create recent content, but you can also revise existing pages to meet recency criteria. Ultimately, our goal is for our clients to evolve and steadily improve their content over time.

Relevancy – Content needs to be relevant to the audience your client is trying to reach. Some sites receive a high volume of traffic for something besides their core business. In this case, the client's content doesn't match the keywords their audience is using.

Spend 30 minutes reviewing your client's content. Score them against these four criteria.

Review each content type, and look for the core elements that should be included in each. Does the site have product pages without reviews? What about missing information – do hours of operation appear on the contact page?

We also want to evaluate the website's content compared to the competition. Spend 20 minutes reviewing the content on your client's competitors' websites.

What observations do you make? Do they have more pages? Do pages have more content? Do they blog frequently?

Summarize your Content Analysis
Is content a strength or weakness for the site? What action(s) should be taken in the months and years to come? These aren't page-by-page recommendations; think more at the 1,000-foot level.

Suggest specific action items such as:

  • Commit to a regular blogging schedule. Target 1 post per [week/month].
  • Invest in longer, more comprehensive blog posts.
  • Expand the homepage content to include [missing elements].
  • Expand the content on your category or collections pages.
  • Add testimonials to core pages including the homepage, services pages, and the contact page.

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6. Review the On-Site Optimization

On-site optimization is a way of adding context to your content. The four key components of on-site optimization are:

  • Page Titles & Meta Descriptions
  • Headers (H1-H6)
  • Alternative Text
  • Internal Links
Page Titles & Meta Descriptions
Page titles and meta descriptions appear in the HTML code of your website's header section. They act as organic ad text in the search engine results, so they can be used to market your pages.

These are perhaps the most important components of on-site optimization because they:

  • Act as ad text for each page in the search engine results.
  • Improve your click-through rates.
  • Drive traffic.
  • Improve your rankings in the search results.

You can evaluate current page titles and meta descriptions using a Chrome extension such as SEO META in 1 CLICK. This makes them easy to view for each page. Alternatively, you can crawl the website using a tool like Screaming Frog, then export the full list as a spreadsheet and evaluate them in bulk.

When evaluating page titles and meta descriptions, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Create a unique, relevant title for each page on your website.
  • Aim for 50-60 characters.
  • Format titles like the title of a book. Use capitalization.
  • Explain the page's content in clear terms.
  • Consistently use the same title separator, such as a pipe (|) or a dash (-), to separate your page title from your brand name.
  • Include focus keywords at the beginning of the title (without keyword stuffing).
  • Always place your brand name after the title separator (except for on the homepage, where it typically goes first).
  • Create unique meta descriptions for every page on your website.
  • Aim for 150-160 characters.
  • Include your focus keyword somewhere in the meta description.
  • Draft a paragraph for each that can be read easily.
  • Use an active voice versus a passive one.
  • Make these engaging, and include specific calls to action.

Common action items include:

  • Customize the page titles and meta descriptions for all top-level pages. Automate them for frequently updated content types such as blog posts and products.
  • Update existing page titles and meta descriptions to include a greater emphasis on keywords.
Headers
Headers improve a user's experience by breaking page content into organized sections. They show up in the page's HTML code and contain a hierarchy from 1-6. The search engines use the header tags to understand the page's structure.

Quickly evaluate header structure using a Chrome extension such as SEO META in 1 CLICK. Review one to two pages within each content type. What trends do you see? For example, is the title of a product on a product page the H1? Are H2s and H3s used in logical places?

Ideally, each page has just one H1, followed by H2s and beyond using a nested structure. Header copy should also be logical and include keywords when possible.

Common action items include:

  • Revise the top pages on your website to feature just one H1, adding in H2s and H3s below it.
  • Revise your top 10 blog posts and break the content into sections using headers tags. Currently, blog posts have one H1 (the title of the post) but no structure in the body copy. Add H2s and H3s to break up the content, which will make it easier to scan and digest.
Alternative Text
Alternative text is HTML code that describes an image on a web page. It's required for web accessibility, and also helps the search engines understand the relevance of your images.

Review the alternative text on images on the top 10 most viewed pages of the site using a tool such as SEO Meta in 1 Click. Alternatively, scan the site with Screaming Frog and follow these instructions to review the alternative text.

Common action items include:

  • Update the alternative text on the top 20 most visited pages on your site. Follow best practices for alternative text when adding future images to the site.
  • Your alternative text is excellent. Keep up the great work.
Internal Links
Internal links are links that point from one page on a website to another page on the same site. They make it easier for the search engine to index your website, and tell the search engines which pages are the most important.

You can view an internal link graph using the Google Search Console. Navigate to Links > Internal links > Top linked pages. Review this list. Is it logical? Does it paint a picture for the search engines of what pages are a high priority?

Common action items include:

  • Your site meets best practices for internal link usage and paints a clear and accurate picture of relative importance amongst your pages.
  • There are several high-priority pages such as /example which don't appear in the most linked-to internal pages. Review existing blog posts and add links pointing back to important product and service pages.
Summarize your On-Site Optimization Findings
At the end of this section, summarize your findings. Is on-site SEO currently a strength or an opportunity for growth? What are the highest priority action items?

7. Off-Site SEO

Off-site SEO means everything that happens outside of a website. The search engines look for external signals (backlinks, Google Maps, social media) as a gauge of a site's online authority and trustworthiness. Authority and trust are strong ranking factors, so the importance of off-site SEO can't be ignored.

Backlinks
Links from other websites that point to your client's website act as votes of endorsement and increase authority in the online space. We call these links “backlinks,” and our goal is to have a network of backlinks coming from high-quality websites.

We can evaluate a site's “authority” via domain rating with aHrefs Backlink Checker (free).

Enter your client's URL and explore the backlink network. What is the goal? What is a good domain rating? It depends on the industry space. Local business websites don't need to have as high of a domain rating as one competing in a national or international landscape.

Enter URLs for your client's competition and see who's leading the space.

Identify a number range for “good” based on the competition. If your client is the leader, then the action item is to keep up the good work. This means keep cruising with current PR and backlink efforts (don't hit the brakes and stop – otherwise, the competition will catch up).

Alternatively, if your client is lagging behind, then we need to pick up the pace of link building. For many businesses, this means simply getting started, and we recommend real-world tactics such as guest blogging, sponsoring events, getting links from partner businesses, etc.

Local Search
The search engines look to listings in location-based portals such as Google Maps, Yelp, Yellowpages.com, and more to understand a business's name, address, phone number, service area, hours of operation, etc. It's essential that this information be accurate, consistent, and broadly distributed across the web.

Start your evaluation of your client's local search presence by finding their Google Maps listing; Google Maps is at the center of this local search ecosystem.

Common suggestions for action items include:

  • Verify and update your Google Maps listing via Google My Business. Then, focus on acquiring 5-star reviews and citation building.
  • Increase your review count on Google Maps. Your competitors have X reviews on average and your listing has Y.
    Invest in citation building to improve your “health score” by having more widely distributed and accurate business information.
Social Media
Social media engagement is another off-site signal which helps the search engines better understand your business.

Because the social web is complex and has a paid component (via ad campaigns), the performance of an individual post isn't a strong SEO signal. Instead, consistently updated social channels are a positive trust signal according to the search engines. That said, social media isn't a strong SEO signal overall, so don't place as much emphasis (or invest too much time) on this one.

Evaluate your client's social channels for basic best practices.

  • Are the channels maintained?
  • Is the posting frequency appropriate for the industry space?
  • Are they focused on quality over quantity (versus spread too thin across many different networks with little content)?
Summarize your Off-Site SEO Findings
Is off-site SEO a strength or a weakness? What next steps do you suggest?

8. Summarize Your Findings

Be encouraging. Note which of the four pillars are strengths and which are weaknesses (opportunities). For example, “Your site has a solid technical SEO foundation. Opportunity lies in content marketing and on-site optimization.” or “Your site has a solid technical SEO foundation, strong content, and your on-site SEO meets best practices. Nice work! The biggest area of opportunity is in growing your authority and trust via off-site SEO.”

Note that the next step is to begin a one-time SEO project and jumpstart results. During this jumpstart project, many of the one-time action items uncovered in the Assessment will be addressed (think fixing an XML sitemap or cleaning up broken links). Longer-term action items (like consistent long-form blogging), get strategy assistance during a Set-Up and get monthly posts as part of ongoing Monthly services.

9. Present the SEO Assessment to your client.

Schedule a call and walk the client through your findings. Try to avoid using industry jargon. Your goal is to explain your findings in simple terms that make real-world, marketing, and business sense.

At the end of your presentation, explain that SEO is a step-by-step process. With the Assessment in hand, we know precisely what steps need to be taken to jumpstart growth.

Be ready to present the next of your SEO offerings – a one-time project to build the SEO foundation. The Assessment isn't the end of the road … it's just the beginning.

10. Sell the Next Step in your SEO Offering

It's time for action! The next step is your one-time project to build the site's SEO foundation. Think of it as an “SEO Set-Up”. Learn more about building your SEO services offering.

STILL HAVE A QUESTION?

If you have more questions about this, feel free to reach out.

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packaging seo services

What’s Included in Monthly SEO Services?

May 10, 2021

SEO is a long-term initiative. After building an SEO foundation for your client's website via a one-time initial project, it's time to invest in ongoing SEO.

There are two reasons why SEO requires ongoing effort:

1. The search engines evolve. The algorithms are constantly changing. Also, the layout of the search engine results page is dynamic. As a result, there are new strategies and tactics to ensure a site continues to meet SEO best practices and to capitalize on these opportunities.

2. Businesses evolve. A local business changes locations or hours of operation. An eCommerce site adds a new line of products. A services company launches a new offering. Your client's businesses change and we want to ensure their presence on Google continues to match their goals.

Monthly SEO services allow you to provide value and drive growth in this dynamic environment.

What to Include in Monthly SEO Services?

There are three services to include in a monthly SEO package:

  1. Communication
  2. Reporting
  3. Action Items

Together, these components ensure you deliver high-value service.

Communication is the backbone of ongoing SEO.

It sets your services apart from the competition. Talk to business owners about their experience with SEO services and they'll often talk about SEO professionals who don't respond to emails or routinely meet with their customers. Even if they are receiving great service, the customer doesn't know it. The lack of communication leaves a bad taste in their mouth about the SEO services industry as a whole.

By communicating clearly and consistently, you build trust. It also ensures that if there is bad news – a decline in traffic or a drop in sales, you and your client will have forged a partnership that allows you to troubleshoot the results together and get back on course.

Delivering a monthly SEO report is a must-do form of communication.

Powered by Google Analytics and the Google Search Console, monthly SEO reports share insight into results. This includes how organic search traffic is trending, what keywords are performing well, and more.

At Pathfinder SEO, our reports are white-labeled and can be delivered to your customer as an attached PDF or as a link to a secure webpage. Instead of sending these to your client, we send them to you. You are the quarterback of the campaign. Your client doesn't want an automated email with an impersonal feel. They want an email from you with your insights + the data to back it up.

This also gives you the opportunity to communicate to your customer what tasks have been completed and what is planned for the upcoming month. Think of this monthly email with the enclosed report as a miniature scope of work. It also is an opportunity to reach out and offer to schedule a call to take a deeper dive.

Not sure how to write this email? No problem. Lean on our template of emails to make communicating with your customers easy and effective.

Action items promote steady progress.

The final component of monthly SEO services is action items. Action items are the ongoing effort you make to steadily grow your customer's business.

Action items vary each month. Your goal is to invest in those action items that will be the most impactful.

The action item list depends on what tier of ongoing SEO services your client selected. For example, you may have some customers that you provide a weekly or monthly blog post. Alternatively, you may only be responsible for ongoing SEO maintenance by performing tasks such as fixing broken links.

Here's a snapshot of how you might package your monthly services:

Let's suppose you have a client on the “Action” package. Here's what a three-month outline might look like for their action items:

  • Blog Post – One new post.
  • Technical SEO – Scan for and fix broken links.
  • Local Search – Update Google Maps listing + remind the client why reviews matter and how to get more of them.
  • Page Content – Draft expanded content for a services page including an FAQ section. Explore current reviews and find a good review to add to this page as a testimonial.
  • Technical SEO – Respond to page not found errors as noted in the Google Search Console.
  • Off-Site SEO – Review client's current partner list and look for opportunities to cross-promote businesses via exchanged links or guest blogging.
  • Blog Post – One new post.
  • Technical SEO – Explore Page Experience in the Google Search Console. Communicate findings to the customer.
  • On-Site SEO – Expand customization of page titles and meta descriptions for the top 10 blog posts.

In this example, we are delivering each month on the core components of the SEO including technical SEO, content, on-site optimization, and off-site SEO. We rotate our prioritization based on the needs of the site.

Action items can be grouped into these categories:

  • Technical SEO: Continual optimization for speed, responding to page not found errors, fixing broken links.
  • Content: Ongoing content strategy, production, and publishing.
  • On-Site SEO: Taking a deeper dive into a site to customize the on-page SEO including title tags, meta descriptions, improving header structure, expanding alternative text, and more.
  • Off-Site SEO: Updating a Google Maps listing, citation building, collaboration on link building.

Most of the time, your work will be representative of these tried and true action items that accumulate over time to drive growth. Sometimes, there will be new strategies to deploy or an algorithm change that requires your attention. For example, maybe you help your client get ready for Google Analytics 4 or invest in Page Experience, both of which are timely topics right now. Because new strategies and needs can arise, we keep our action items dynamic. While you may craft a 6-month plan for a client, it's likely something will come up which causes you to reprioritize the list.

Deliver Monthly SEO Services with Pathfinder SEO

From ongoing SEO lessons and coaching to white-labeled monthly reports, Pathfinder is here to help you deliver high-value ongoing SEO services.

Schedule a demo to learn more.

STILL HAVE A QUESTION?

Schedule a demo to see Pathfinder SEO in action.

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agency

White Label SEO vs Guided SEO

April 29, 2021

Your customers likely are asking for SEO services. They want a one-stop-shop digital agency. They need a great website + quality traffic from the search engines to grow their business.

If you are like many web professionals, you might think you don't have time to add a new service to your business, especially a service like SEO which is constantly changing.

And yet, without SEO services, your agency is less competitive and is leaving money on the table.

A common solution is white label SEO.

What are White Label SEO Services?

White label SEO service is a means of reselling SEO services provided by a behind-the-scenes partner. The dynamic is simple:

  • Your agency sells an SEO package
  • Your agency bills the client
  • Your agency communicates with the client
  • The white label partner delivers the work
  • The client never knows about the white label partner

For many years, my agency offered white labeled SEO services for other agencies. We specialize in SEO while others specialize in web design and development. It made sense to partner. Those partnerships were structured via a white label or reseller dynamic. We discovered advantages and disadvantages along the way.

White label SEO services will:

  • Increase the capacity of your agency without hiring
  • Allow you to offer a service in an area where you don't have a depth of expertise

There are unforeseen disadvantages to consider:

  • Your margins will be limited. White label SEO partners charge industry rates for their services. You'll want to mark these up to account for a sales commission and the value your team brings to the table in the communication role. Either, your margins will be slight to stay within reasonable industry standards or your pricing will be high.
  • Your account managers will lack the depth of expertise needed to communicate effectively with clients about SEO. Ongoing SEO services require ongoing communication. Ideally, that's in the form of a monthly call with the client. Along the way, you'll review the monthly report, talk about strategic direction and answer questions. We found these conversations didn't go well as clients would ask questions about a task that was completed and the account manager would lack a response that left the client confident in the manager's SEO knowledge.
  • Your partner may or may not deliver. Unfortunately in the SEO industry, services are delivered with mixed results. There are great partners and agencies out there. And then there are those who charge a monthly retainer and deliver very little. You might find your white label partner comes out of the gate strong with communication and delivery, and then this wanes over time.

All too often, the final result of white label SEO services is that a client doesn't see high-value results, and your agency isn't really making money. You are at a stalemate. Your customers still need to get found on Google. Your agency is leaving money on the table by not effectively offering SEO services. Here's where guided SEO comes in.

What is Guided SEO?

Our guided approach to SEO was born out of our industry experience with white label SEO services. After trying (and trying again) to get the white label dynamic to work, we thought there must be another way. We developed guided SEO in response to where white labeled services were failing.

Guided SEO gives you a proven process without requiring you to become an SEO expert. It offers a series of lessons – each with specific homework assignments – so that you can effectively deliver SEO services. It's both practical and tactical.

Guided SEO includes the tools you need (keyword research, rank tracking, and monthly report). And the best part of guided SEO is the coaching – you meet with your SEO coach each month to review your client accounts, talk through client-specific issues, and more.

Guided SEO also includes the business resources you need to launch an SEO services offering. We teach you how to package, price, and sell services. We empower you with sample sales proposals, email templates, and much more.

Guided SEO Makes You the Quarterback

Guided SEO puts you (or somebody on your team) in the driver seat of your SEO offering. You'll follow our SEO Checklist to deliver high-value SEO services. The SEO Checklist is step-by-step and easy to follow so a junior team member can deliver this work with consistency and ease.

The quarterback role doesn't require you to deliver every component of your client's SEO strategy. It makes you the driver of what needs to be done and when. The how depends on your team.

Agencies deliver on the tactical steps of SEO in a variety of ways:

  • Your team is the engine. If you have a larger staff or a team member who would like to dedicate themselves to SEO, you can deliver all of the SEO services in-house. Easy enough.
  • You outsource specific SEO tasks. If you have a capacity constraint, you can outsource specific pieces of an SEO strategy to contractors. At our agency, we have one contractor who focuses on content and on-site optimization, for example. A great place to find contractors is Upwork. You can also outsource to industry-specific specialists who offer a productized service such as content creation or citation building. Crowd Content is a great source for blog posts and Loganix is fantastic at building citations.

Take the First Step

The first step in offering high-value SEO services is business planning. Spend 1 hour taking our free Getting Started with SEO Services course to learn how to package, price, and sell.

Then, sign up for a subscription to Pathfinder SEO. You can practice the delivery of services on your own website to see just how easy it is.

STILL HAVE A QUESTION?

Schedule a demo to see Pathfinder SEO in action.

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google analytics button click

How to Track a Button Click in Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager

April 19, 2021

To better invest your marketing dollars, it's essential to track conversions (or goals) in Google Analytics. A goal tells Google Analytics what we consider a success to be on our website. We can then use this data to make more informed decisions about our marketing strategy.

If lead generation is a goal of your website, then you'll want to track how often the button on your contact or lead generation forms is clicked. Google Analytics doesn't track a click on a button out of the box. It's something we need to configure in Google Tag Manager.

Watch the Video

How to Track a Button Click in Google Analytics Using Google Tag Manager

1. Get Organized

Start by opening three resources: Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and your website. This tutorial assumes that you have already installed the Google Tag Manager on your website and that Google Analytics is up and running. If not, start by setting up Google Tag Manager.

2. Enable All Variables

A best practice in Google Tag Manager is to enable all variables. This will ensure that the variable you need in step 3 is ready and waiting for you.

In the left navigation, go to Variables. Click on all of the boxes to enable all.

3. Create a Trigger

Navigate to your Google Tag Manager container and click Trigger in the left navigation. Think of Triggers as your listener. We need to create a Trigger that is going to listen for the desired action. In this case, our desired action is a click on a button.

Next, go to your website and navigate to the form you'd like to track. We need to find something unique about the button on a page that we can hook into with our trigger. To do so, we'll need to look at the code behind the button. Hover over the button of interest, right-click, and inspect the element.

This is the hard part as what we find that is unique is going to be a little different in each scenario. In general, you are looking for an “id” or a “class”. In this example we see:

<div>
<input id=”nf-field-10″ type=”button” value=”Submit”>
</div>

The ID “nf-field-10” is unique to this form and it'll be our hook.

Now, return to the Trigger in Google Tag Manager. Click New. Name the trigger “Check for Click on Button”. Be specific so if this is your contact form, label it “Check for Click on [Form Name]”.

Click in the box to configure the trigger. Select “All Elements” from the Trigger Type. Under “This trigger fires on”, select “Some Clicks”. Now, select a variable from the dropdown:

We found an “ID” in our inspection so in this case select Click ID. If you found a class instead, then select Click Class.

Set the condition to “Contains”. Copy and paste the ID code into the field. Here's what the Trigger looks like in this example:

Click Save.

4. Create a Tag

Now that we have our Trigger, we can create a Tag. Think of the Tag as the action we want to happen when the Trigger is fired.

In this case, we want to create a Google Analytics event. GA events are actions on our website that we can label.

In the left navigation, go to Tags. Click New. Label the Tag “GA – Form Submission – [Form Name]”. In this example, it'll be “GA – Form Submission – Contact”.

Click on Tag Configuration. Select “Google Analytics: Universal Analytics”.

Change the dropdown from Pageview to Event.

The Event Tracking Parameters are your choice. These are the labels. A basic convention for this event would be:

Category – Form
Action – Submission
Label – Contact

I can follow this logic on other forms and use the same Category and Actions. Then, I can change the Label to differentiate each event. For example, maybe I have a different form on my Schedule a Demo page and want to have a separate event for that form completion.

Under “Google Analytics Settings” choose your pre-built variable for your Google Analytics code. Leave everything else to the default settings. Here's the final Tag:

Now, we need to connect the Tag and the Trigger. Do so right below this field by click on Triggering. Select the appropriate Trigger and Save.

5. Publish

We're ready to publish our work. In the upper right corner, select Publish. Add a descriptive name so you can keep track of your revisions. Something along the lines of “Adding Event Tracking to Contact Form” would be good.

6. Test

Let's make sure it's working. You can do this by using the Preview mode of Google Tag Manager. Here's more information on that tool.

We can also complete the action on the live website and then check our Real-Time data in Google Analytics.

7. Turn an Event into a Goal

Google Analytics is now recording clicks on a button as an Event. We now need to tell Google Analytics that that particular event is one of our key performance indicators or goals. In Google Analytics, navigate to the Admin screen. Under Views, select Goals. Click + New Goal.

Label the goal. In this example, it might be “Contact Form Completion” and then select Event.

Here's where the labeling we chose in the Google Tag Manager Trigger comes in. We need to match it here so Google knows what to listen for.

Click Save.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common issue with setting up event tracking on a button via Google Tag Manager is a mistake with the Trigger. Go back to that step and double-check your work. Try hooking into a different part of the button code. In this example, we used the ID. You could instead try the Class.

That's where coaching comes into play. If you are a Pathfinder subscriber, schedule a call with your coach to get a second set of eyes on your Google Tag Manager set up. Not a subscriber? Sign up for our guided SEO approach and we can help dial in your Tag Manager account.

Next: Watch this FREE 1-hour Training

Getting Started with Google Analytics 4 and Google Tag Manager

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google analytics

Google Analytics vs Google Search Console

April 15, 2021

Two of the most helpful tools for SEO are powered by Google – Google Analytics and Google Search Console. What's the difference between Google Analytics and the Google Search Console? Do you need both?

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics (GA) is a free, enterprise-level web analytics platform. It allows you to make data-driven marketing decisions.

GA tracks your website's performance in enormous detail. There are engagement statistics to help you answer questions such as:

  • How long does the average visitor spend on a website?
  • How many pages does the average visitor view?
  • What are the most visited pages on a website?

Other statistics are about the acquisition of visitors and help answer questions such as:

  • What traffic sources led to visitors to a website (direct, search, social, referral, etc)?
  • How is organic search traffic trending over time?
  • How many visitors came to a website via an email marketing campaign?

Google Analytics also includes statistics about lead generation and revenue. It can be configured to help you answer questions such as:

  • How much revenue did a store generate?
  • How many forms were completed?
  • What traffic sources lead to the most sales?

Google Analytics & Keyword Data

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for SEO, but it isn't SEO specific. As noted above, GA a digital marketing tool that provides insights into all of your marketing channels.

There is one question that Google Analytics doesn't answer well which is important to SEOs … what keywords led to visits from Google organic search?

This data is combined into “not provided” in Google Analytics. This is where the Google Search Console comes in.

 

What is the Google Search Console?

The Google Search Console (GSC) is an SEO-specific, free tool from Google. It creates a communication channel between you as a site owner or webmaster and Google's crawlers.

To get started with the Google Search Console, you need to verify your relationship to the website. Here's how.

Now, you have a treasure trove of SEO-specific data. In fact, the Google Search Console is our favorite SEO tool.

Here are a few key insights you can gain from the GSC:

Performance: Keyword performance data from organic search is available including what keywords led to clicks and impressions. You'll also note an average position and the click-through rate for each keyword.

gsc performance data
The Performance data helps you understand what keywords drive traffic to your website. Analyzing this data reveals areas of growth. For example, what keywords have high impressions, but an average rank that puts you out of the running for traffic?

Coverage: The Coverage report helps you understand how Google is crawling and indexing your website. This report can be complicated. Start simple by seeing if the total number of pages in Google's index seems roughly equivalent to the size of your website.

Sitemaps: An XML sitemap is like your website's resume. It gives the search engines a list of the pages you would like indexed along with relevant information such as when a page was last updated. You can submit your website's XML sitemap to Google in the GSC.

And so much more! Verify your website with the Google Search Console to uncover all of its features.

Google Analytics vs Google Search Console

Both Google Analytics and Google Search Console are essential tools for SEO. It's not GA vs GSC, it's GA + GSC.

It's also possible to connect Google Analytics with the Google Search Console. Learn how.

Take a Step-by-Step Approach to SEO

SEO might seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn't have to be. And you don't have to be an SEO expert to get your website found in Google.

Instead, you need to follow a step-by-step process. At Pathfinder SEO, we distill 10+ years of agency experience into a guided SEO platform for site owners, freelancers, and agencies.

Learn more and schedule a demo.

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google analytics and google tag manager

Google Analytics vs Google Tag Manager

April 15, 2021

In the world of digital marketing, there are many tools including Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. It can be overwhelming to know which tool to use, what it does, and when to deploy it. In this post, we compare Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Together they help you create a data-driven marketing strategy.

What's the difference between Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager?

Google Analytics (GA) is a free web analytics tool that tracks website traffic and performance. It allows you to make data-informed decisions about your marketing campaigns. For example, businesses that invest in SEO, use GA to monitor how organic search traffic trends over time. Alternatively, if you just built a new website, Google Analytics allows you to compare the user experience for the before and after by looking at engagement statistics.

Google Analytics is powered by an on-page tag. This tag is placed on every page of your website. It includes a unique identifier for your account called a measurement ID. The tag has changed over the years as GA has evolved. Here's a snapshot of the current tag called the Global Site Tag (the unique identifier called a Measurement ID is highlighted in bold):

<!– Global site tag (gtag.js) – Google Analytics –> <script async src=”https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=G-5KV5D7YABC“></script> <script> window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag(‘js', new Date()); gtag(‘config', ‘G-5KV5D7YABC‘); </script>

The first step to using Google Analytics is adding the Global Site Tag to every page on your website. This can be done in a template or theme file. If you have a WordPress website, you may use a plugin that supports Google Analytics such as MonsterInsights. Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify also support the easy implementation of the Google Analytics code.

Using Google Tag Manager to Add Google Analytics to your Website

There is an alternative to implementing your GA Tag directly on your website. Instead, you can utilize Google Tag Manager (also known as GTM).

Google Tag Manager makes it easy to manage all of your website tags without editing code. You can think of GTM as being a container. You place the code for the container on your website once. Then, you can add tags into the container directly in the Google Tag Manager interface without having to edit the code on your website.

In this application, we place Google Tag Manager on your website and then we place the Google Analytics code within the Google Tag Manager account.

There are several advantages to this approach:

  • Google Tag Manager has tag templates for frequently used tags like Google Analytics. The template will automatically update for you if/when the tracking code changes. This saves you time down the road.
  • Google Tag Manager makes it easy to extend the out-of-the-box functionality of Google Analytics with event tracking and more. This makes it easier to tie a website visitor to a desired action such as completing a form.
  • Google Tag Manager supports much more than just Google Analytics. Need to add a Facebook pixel to the website? No problem. Just drop it in Tag Manager. GTM supports third-party tags.
  • Google Tag Manager fosters collaboration. Once the Google Tag Manager code is on the website, multiple people can manage tags without having to send developer requests.

Google Tag Manager & Google Analytics

Our preferred method of installing Google Analytics on a website is Google Tag Manager. These two tools are complementary.

Pathfinder SEO subscribers have access to our Google Tag Manager training which is part of the SEO Checklist. Sign up today and start growing your website's traffic following our step-by-step approach.

FREE 1-hour On-Demand Training

Getting Started with Google Analytics 4 and Google Tag Manager

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How to Deliver SEO Services

March 12, 2021

Congratulations, you sold your first account! Now it's time to deliver SEO services.

In this post, you'll learn a proven process for delivering the following SEO services:

  • SEO Assessment
  • QuickStart SEO
  • Monthly Services

Watch the Video

Follow a Holistic Approach to SEO

These services are part of a holistic approach to SEO. To approach SEO holistically, we break SEO into four component parts – technical SEO, content creation, on-site optimization, and off-site SEO. At Pathfinder SEO, we call these four foundational categories the Four Pillars of SEO.

By utilizing the Four Pillars system, we make SEO easier for our customers to understand.

The Four Pillars also allow us to prioritize an ongoing investment in each of these areas. With SEO, it doesn't matter if you're great in some areas when you're neglecting others. You need to have a balanced approach to SEO which invests in each of these component parts.

SEO Assessment

An SEO Assessment is a one-time project to evaluate a website's SEO starting point and create a roadmap for future growth. This assessment is not to be confused with a comprehensive SEO Audit.

SEO Assessments take a 1,000-foot view. They look at the most critical dynamics and produce an overview of new opportunities to help your customers gain traction in the search results.

Communication is the backbone of every SEO service. This is more true than ever for SEO Assessments, since it'll be your client's first introduction to your SEO approach. We want our customers to come along on the full SEO journey. To initiate and encourage such a partnership, take the time to explain how the search engines work and why. Then, introduce your client to the Four Pillar system you'll be following.

Next, we want to review your client's website and its current performance in the search engines. Organize your evaluation according to the Four Pillars of SEO. The goal is to have a complete sense of the website's strengths and weaknesses at the end of your evaluation. Does your client have strong technical and off-site SEO, but a lack of content and on-site optimization? Perhaps the website excels in the first three Pillars, but lacks off-site SEO and thus lacks trust and authority?

Use your evaluation to create a roadmap for turning current weaknesses into new opportunities.

Once we've completed our evaluation, we need to communicate our findings to the client. This is best done over the phone, and can be supported by documentation which details your recommendations in PDF form.

Ideally, the PDF is based on a SEO Assessment template which you update and customize for each client. Pathfinder SEO subscribers already have access to such a template.

SEO Set Up / QuickStart SEO

An SEO Set Up (also known as QuickStart SEO) is a one-time project designed to jumpstart your client's results when they're ready to take action.

We start this project by dialing in Google Analytics, the Google Search Console, and Google My Business for our client.

Then, we dive into foundational action items which are necessary for SEO traction such as writing page titles, meta descriptions, and alternative text and improving site speed.

To complete this one-time SEO project, we  review our initial results with the client and celebrate! This isn't the end of the road, but you've accomplished a lot.

Now, your client is fully prepared to dive into a monthly campaign.

SEO Checklist

Pathfinder SEO subscribers can leverage our SEO Checklist when working through an SEO Set Up. This breaks the project into easy-to-follow steps with how-to videos.

Schedule a Demo

Monthly SEO Services

There are three primary components to providing monthly SEO services – Communication, Reporting, and Action Items.

Communication is easy. Your goal is to maintain proactive and consistent communication via email and phone calls. This already sets you apart; effective communication is surprisingly rare.

Each month, we'll deliver a monthly report with relevant data from Google Analytics. Pathfinder SEO subscribers can use our white label monthly reports. Another means of generating reports is via Google Data Studio. Learn how to send monthly SEO reports.

Action items will vary by client depending on which tier was chosen. We plan new action items on a monthly basis and communicate that plan when emailing the monthly report. This simply means that we give each client a list of completed action items from the previous month, along with a list of action items planned for the next.

Typical action items include:

  • Creating new content. Depending on your plan, you may be the quarterback in charge while your client drafts the copy. Or you may be writing, editing, and publishing all of a client's content yourself.
  • Collaborating on link building. Our goal is to help our clients get high value backlinks via real-world marketing tactics. Learn more about how we approach link building.
  • Staying current with SEO updates. For example, right now we're working to set up the newest version of Google Analytics (called Google Analytics 4) for each client.
  • Evolving SEO strategy as a client's business evolves. For example, if your customer has a new product, you'll want to do keyword research for that product, coach the client on keywords to integrate into the product's copy, then dial in the page title and meta description for the new product's webpage.
  • Technical SEO maintenance. This includes regularly scanning your client's website to check for broken links, and fixing any 404 Page Not Found errors that might pop up over time.

Pathfinder SEO has a series of lessons in the Ongoing SEO which will teach you how to approach these action items.

How to Deliver SEO Services

You don't have to be an SEO expert to deliver high value SEO services to your clients. The ingredients for success are simple:

  • Follow a tested and proven process.
  • Take a step-by-step, incremental approach.
  • Get regular feedback from seasoned SEO coaches.
  • Leverage tools that give you the data you need without the overwhelming interfaces of most SEO softwares.

Streamline & Scale Your SEO Services

Pathfinder is an SEO business in a box solution for freelancers and agencies.

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How to Sell SEO Services

March 10, 2021

It's time to learn how to sell SEO by mastering your pitch. In this blog, we will cover how to convert leads into clients excited about your SEO services.

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Start with a Discovery Call

The sales process begins with a discovery call. Here are some tips for a successful first call:

Ask the Right Questions

  • “How have you approached SEO in the past?” Listen carefully to the answer. This will show you how much the prospect values SEO, how much experience they have, and how familiar they are with SEO terms. You might get a good grip on their actual expectations , as well as learning who'll be working with you.
  • “What would your business look like if Google suddenly sent you twice your current traffic?” This will help you with our next prompt.

Sell the Destination

Move from your prospect's pain to the destination that's possible with great SEO. A business will want to hire you because you promise to deliver growth in sales and leads. They don't care that you can add an XML sitemap or optimize meta descriptions because they don't want SEO – they want future business success.

Avoid Industry Jargon

During your call, you might be tempted to use terms like “Rich Snippet,” “404 error,” “301 Redirect,” and “Robots.txt.” This can completely confuse and overwhelm a prospect.

Instead, make your prospect feel at ease. Communicate in everyday terms to avoid scaring them with SEO industry lingo. Replace SEO lingo with relatable concepts. Here are some examples:

  • Instead of saying “SEO services,” try “getting your website found on Google.”
  • Instead of saying “XML sitemap,” describe this file as “your website's public resume.”
  • Instead of “Featured Snippet,” explain that this is “an opportunity to appear above the #1 position on Google.”

Set Expectations

“When will I see results?” may be the most frequently asked question during an SEO discovery call. You'll want to make sure your prospect understands everything that's required to get those results.

This is the time to set expectations, such as:

  • When and how will they hear from you next? Email, Zoom?
  • What do they need to do for you? Get Google Analytics permissions, website access credentials, etc.?
  • When will the prospect start seeing results? Do they understand it can take several months of focused work before ?
  • Is the prospect's desired keyword space reasonable? Are the keywords too competitive? Let them know you need keywords with high volume and reasonable competition to get more customers as opposed to broader keywords and phrases.
  • How do you work? Let them know why it's important to approach SEO on a monthly basis. What's going to be included in ongoing communications?

Follow Up with an SEO Proposal

Creating a winning proposal template will save you time during the sales process and ultimately help you close more business. A successful SEO proposal template includes:

A short letter to thank the prospect for their time during an initial SEO discovery call and to recap the prospect's current status with SEO. Here's an example:

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Repeat your prospect's core problem. This reminds the client that you've thought critically about their unique situation when crafting your proposed solution. Show them you understand their pain and are determined to resolve it.

Here's an example:

How will you approach the problem? What is your solution? Clearly outline how your solution is process-based in this section of the proposal.

  • Break your SEO process into a framework that the prospect can understand. We use the four pillars of SEO to support our rationale.
  • Speak about the incremental nature of SEO. This sets the expectation that lasting results take time and can't happen overnight. A statement such as, “Our approach creates incremental improvements each and every month” does the trick.
  • Clarify how your solution is packaged. Here's an example, “Our SEO services are broken down into three distinct projects: SEO Assessment, SEO Set Up, and Monthly SEO.”
  • Mention the collaborative nature of SEO. Make it clear you'll need the customer to be an active part of the journey in order to get the best results.

Get specific about the services included within each project.

What is the cost of your services? When are you available to start? What are your terms and conditions? We keep our terms and conditions very simple:

  • We do not require a long term contract. We request 30 days' notice for a change of service.
  • One-time services are billed 50% upfront and 50% upon completion.
  • Monthly services are billed on the 15th, and payment is requested by the 30th.

A place to sign on the dotted line that also includes your specific terms and conditions.

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Getting Started with SEO Services with Lindsay Halsey

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Next Steps

Your next steps to sell more SEO services this year are:

  1. Creating an agenda for your SEO discovery call that includes the questions you plan to ask.
  2. Create your SEO proposal template. We have free templates available for all Pathfinder SEO subscribers.

Now you're ready to sell SEO services! Once a client is in hand, it's time to start thinking about delivering SEO services.

As always, shoot us an email  if you have any questions at support@pathfinderseo.com.

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How to Refresh Old Blog Posts

March 8, 2021

When it comes to SEO, most marketers focus on creating brand new content based on a long list of targeted blog post topics. They've invested a great deal of time to discover – and then write about – new and trending topics.

Creating new content is an essential component of SEO, but you don't always have to write new content. Instead (especially if you've been blogging for a while), you'll find a treasure trove of prime opportunities in your already-published content.

Identify Opportunities to Revise Old Content

Start looking for existing opportunities by scanning through your old blog posts in reverse chronological order. Here are our suggestions based on what you see:

  • Is the post too short? It's time to lengthen your copy.
  • Have you written about the same topic in multiple posts? It's time to combine two posts into one longer and more comprehensive post.
  • Does your post lack structure? It's time to add engaging, keyword-optimized headers.
  • Does your post lack keywords? It's time to integrate focused keywords into your copy.
  • Is your post completely text-based? It's time to add images or a video.
  • Does your post contain only images? It's time to add some copy.

You can also utilize the Google Search Console to identify opportunities. Navigate to the Performance tab to see what posts have gotten the most traction over the past year.

Here are our suggestions based on what you see:

  • Does a post have keywords that rank 10-20 on average? It's time to refresh the post and go after these phrases more aggressively, with the goal of landing on Page 1 of Google.
  • Was a post performing well, then performance seemed to decrease? It's time to update the post.
  • Has a post been ranking for keywords that you didn't know existed? It's time to revise the post and add in those phrases to get even more mileage.
  • Is a post driving more traffic than you ever could have imagined? This is a nice surprise. Does that post have a clear call to action to turn that traffic into a lead or sale? If not, create one.

Create a Content Revision Playbook

Now that you have a focused direction and action steps to take, it's time to get organized. Add your content revision ideas into your content marketing calendar.

(Note: You might need to pause here and teach your team or client why revising content is as valuable – or even more valuable – than creating a brand new post on a brand new topic.)

Strike a balance between writing brand new posts and revising existing ones; the right balance will depend on how much old content you have. If your list of revision suggestions is short, then maybe you'll work 75% on new content and 25% on revisions. If your list of revisions is long (you've been blogging for a long time), then you might focus 25% on new posts and 75% on revisions.

Start Writing

Commit to your new calendar and start writing. There are many ways to start writing more. Here are our suggestions:

  • Write in the morning. Make it the first thing you do.
  • Break your writing into 30-minute increments. You can do anything for 30 minutes, right?
  • Keep yourself accountable (that's where coaching comes in). Having a business or SEO coach helps turn your goals into actual deadlines.
  • Outsource when necessary. Google values your expertise, not expertise from a third party. But writing can be challenging for some people. In that case, start with a solid outline of your piece, then provide resources to an outsourced writer. We like the team at Crowd Content.

How to Update Your Existing Blog Post

With finalized content updates in hand, it's time to update the post on your website. Log in to your website backend and navigate to the existing page or post. As you update your content, keep these best practices in mind.

Uses Headers (H1 – H6)

Don't just make a header bold or bigger; use the proper H1 – H6 HTML tags to order your content. These are strong contextual signals to both search engines and your readers. Using header tags keeps the appearance of your blog post content consistent, and you won't have to remember to style each header the same.

Update the Publish Date

Should you update your publish date when revising a blog post? The answer is yes! If you make substantial changes to a post, then by all means set a new publish date. Readers are more likely to read a recent post, and Google prioritizes recently created content.

A note of caution: simply swapping a sentence or two isn't a revision. You want to make significant changes to a post if you're going to change the publish date. If your edits are minor, leave the publish date as-is.

Don't Forget to Customize Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

This is how we market a page in the search engine results. Learn more about how to write and add engaging, SEO-friendly page titles and meta descriptions to your posts.

Review Your URLs

Generally speaking, we want to leave the current URL in place, since the search engines are already familiar with this URL and the existing post has already established backlinks.

Sometimes, though, we notice that a URL includes an old date (which sabotages evergreen status). Take, for example, a permalink such as /seo-in-2019. If I revise and update this post every year, I'm tempted to update this to /seo-in-2021 or /seo-in-2022. Which means that every year, I'm going to throw the search engines a curveball by changing the URL.

That curve ball can be easier for search engines to handle if I proactively create a 301 redirect, but it's still unnecessarily murky. Instead, create evergreen URLs for your content such as /seo-this-year. You can then use the same URL year-round. You can update the title on your page to read “SEO in 2021: Tips for Growth” but leave the URL alone.

Refreshing Old Blog Posts

Updating your existing website content is a great way to grow your organic search traffic this year. Like everything, there is a balance between creating a brand new blog post and revising an existing one. Find the balance for your business and get writing!

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