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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

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.

Watch the Video

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.

FREE COURSE

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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wordpress themes

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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pricing

How to Price SEO Services

February 21, 2021

From Packaging to Pricing

How much will you charge for SEO services?

In this post, you'll learn how to create a pricing structure that is based on the value you provide, not just your time.

Watch the Video

Start with Your SEO Offering

Start by reviewing your SEO offering. If you haven't already created these, read this post to learn how to create SEO packages.

Here's what our offering looks like:

Now, let's apply pricing to each.

SEO Assessment

An SEO Assessment is a one-time project to identify where a site is today and to create a roadmap for growth.

An SEO Assessment isn't an SEO Audit. An SEO Assessment is at the 1,000 foot level. It looks at the most critical dynamics and provides overview of opportunities to help gain traction and SEO results.

An SEO Assessment doesn't cost thousands of dollars. It's meant to be an on-ramp in your sales cycle. A means for a prospect to get started.

An SEO Assessment doesn't take forever. This project can be completed in a week or less.

Audits in the thousands of dollars range rarely provide value. They are laundry lists of red flags and actions items.

An SEO assessment, priced with an entry level investment, is high value. It's gives a customer an understanding of how SEO works, how their website stacks up, and a roadmap for growth.

QuickStart SEO

QuickStart SEO is a one-time project to build a website's SEO foundation. It's completed over a defined time period – one to two months is ideal.

We call this offering QuickStart SEO. You can name your offering anything you wish such as SEO Setup.

It's designed to be completed over a 1-2 month time period.

Regardless of the size of the website, this project follows a standard process. We start at the beginning with keyword research and competitive analysis. Then, we move into action items such as XML sitemaps, fixing broken links, and updating  page titles and meta descriptions.

This project scales without investing more time as we can leverage tools and software like plugins to automate some of the SEO for deeper level pages on large websites.

As a result, the pricing range is relatively standard at $3,000. This price point delivers huge value!

That being said, you may find yourself scaling this up or down depending on what industry you typically work with.

Pricing Monthly SEO Services

Within monthly SEO services, we have 3 tiers. Start your pricing planning by reviewing what you have included in each. Here's an example:

The plans vary in effort and value. Thus, our pricing will vary as well.

Your might start by thinking about monthly hourly effort and allocate the following:

  • 1 hour/month for communication
  • 1 hour/month for reporting
  • 1 hour/month for SEO maintenance action items

Then, you layer in the estimated time it takes to create content, build links, etc.

As a result, your hourly allocation may look like this:

  • SEO Awareness: 3-5 hours
  • SEO Action: 5-10 hours
  • SEO Accelerative: 10+ hours

Ultimately, we want to go back to pricing value, not just hours. In that model, our pricing may look like this:

Next Steps

Create your pricing structure.

Once you have it in hand, you're ready to sell SEO services.

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packaging

How to Package SEO Services

February 18, 2021

As you launch and scale your SEO offering, one of the most important components is packaging.

How will you group your SEO services in a meaningful way that makes your offering easy to sell and deliver?

Learn how to create an SEO services offering that includes one-time and recurring services.

Watch the Video

Use a Model to Package Your SEO Services

As you develop your SEO services offering, an important component is creating a model to package your services.

This makes it easy to consistently price, sell, and deliver your services.

The common models for SEO services include:

  • Hourly
  • One-Time
  • Monthly

Our approach to SEO blends one-time services with monthly. It includes three offerings:

Let's explore each in more detail.

SEO Assessment

The SEO Assessment is for prospects who don't know where to begin with SEO. They might be new to SEO or just getting started with a new business. Others, may have been burned by another SEO agency in the past, and this project serves as a low commitment, trust building exercise.

The goal of the SEO Assessment is to identify where a site is today and to create a roadmap for growth.

It includes:

  • An introduction to SEO. How do the search engines work?
  • An evaluation of the website. How does the website stack up in technical SEO, content, on-site optimization, and off-site SEO? What are the site's strengths and weaknesses?
  • A plan. Where do we go from here? How do we turn weaknesses into opportunities for growth?

An SEO Assessment isn't an SEO Audit. An SEO Assessment is at the 1,000 foot level. It looks at the most critical dynamics and provides overview of opportunities to help gain traction and SEO results.

An SEO Assessment doesn't cost thousands of dollars. It's meant to be an on-ramp in your sales cycle. A means for a prospect to get started.

An SEO Assessment doesn't take forever. This project can be completed in a week or less.

Upon completion of the SEO Assessment, a client is ready for action. Enter QuickStart SEO.

QuickStart SEO

QuickStart SEO is a one-time project to build a website's SEO foundation. It's completed over a defined time period – one to two months is ideal.

We call this offering QuickStart SEO. You can name your offering anything you wish such as SEO Setup or SEO Foundation.

QuickStart SEO includes three phases:

Research & Planning – This phase includes tasks such as setting up Google Analytics, verifying a website with the Google Search Console, creating a Google Maps listing via Google My Business. We also invest in keyword research, competitive analysis, and content strategy.

Execution – This phase includes tasks completed in a customer's website such as updating page titles and meta descriptions, fixing broken links, improving alternative text, building an XML sitemap, and more.

Results & Next Steps – We expect to see a lift in the search results within weeks of completing the execution phase. At the project conclusion, it's time to review these results with your customer and talk about the next steps.

This project is considered an accelerator. It moves a client through the foundational, often time-consuming tasks associated with getting started with SEO.

QuickStart SEO can be completed on a live website or done in conjunction with a site that is in development. In the case of a site in development, the execution phase of work is invested in the new website.

Follow Our Process

Our guided approach to SEO includes an SEO Checklist which includes the 12-steps needed to deliver the QuickStart SEO offering.

Learn More

Monthly SEO Services

SEO isn't a set it and forget it marketing iniatitive. The search engines evolve. So too does your client's business.

For these reasons, we recommend that clients continue with a monthly SEO services plan.

If you design and build websites for your customers, then you are already familiar with this model. Designing and building a website is the first phase of work. But, launching a new website isn't the end of the story. A website needs ongoing maintenance and support which is best delivered with a monthly maintenance plan.

Within SEO, QuickStart SEO is comparable to the design/build phase of a new website project. Then, we move into monthly SEO to continue to maintain and build on the foundation.

Monthly SEO services include three components:

  1. Communication. This is the most important factor for a successful SEO effort. To be successful in SEO today, collaboration and feedback are required. A monthly phone call is a great way to ensure you're on the same page.
  2. Reporting. Each month, it's essential to deliver a synopsis of results and observations. Typically, this takes the form of emailing the client a report that integrates commentary with data from tools like Google Analytics.
  3. Action Items. These are the steps we'll take each month to drive results. This is the part of the process that will be incremental. Each month's progress will build upon previous months' tasks and strengthen the overall SEO platform for the months (and years!) that follow. A key component of action items includes collaboration on content expansion.

Offer Tiers of Monthly Services

As we package SEO services for delivery on a monthly basis, consider offering three tiers of service:

  • Awareness – This is for prospects just getting started with SEO.
  • Action – This is for prospects ready to drive results.
  • Accelerative – This is for prospects who want next year's results today.

Clearly define what is included in each tier of service to differentiateyour plans:

Frequently Asked Questions

The SEO Assessment is not a required first step. It's meant to be an on-ramp for those prospects who want to start small.

A prospect may choose to skip this step and dive right into action with QuickStart SEO. That can be especially helpful for local businesses who may be operating on a limited budget and want to invest in action.

Ideally, every customer continues with monthly SEO services. SEO evolves and so too does your customer's business.

We've found that customers who stop investing in SEO after QuickStart SEO come back years later frustrated that their SEO is out of date. Of course it is. It's been sitting in pause mode for a long period of time. That can be hard business to win back.

Instead, we encourage customers to think about SEO similarly to fitness. The QuickStart SEO project is the initial heavy lifting to get in shape. Once you're in shape, the effort doesn't end. But it does get easier. That's monthly SEO. Continue to maintain and build on your initial investment.

What's Next?

Put pen to paper and design your SEO packages.

  • What names will you use for SEO Assessment, QuickStart SEO, and your monthly SEO plans?
  • What will be included in your monthly plans?

Then, you are ready for pricing.

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grow

SEO in 2021 — 3 Actionable Strategies for Growth

January 11, 2021

Search engines never stop evolving. Google, Yahoo, and Bing refresh, refine, and update their algorithms (the formulas used to rank and order the websites that appear in the search results) many times a year. The layout of each search engine results page also evolves, creating new opportunities for positioning and growth. But your position on Google, Yahoo, and Bing isn't all that matters.

What was true in 2020 remains true in 2021 – websites that excel in the areas of expertise, authority, and trust will excel in organic search. Focusing on steady improvements in these three areas is what we call a “holistic approach to SEO.”

 

As we think about SEO in 2021, here are the components of each of these three areas to focus your attention on to grow your website traffic.

Share Your Expertise

Content has been the backbone of SEO since the beginning. Google and the other search engines value expertise; your content is the vehicle through which you share it.

For many years, businesses focused their content marketing efforts on blogging, which was all about the frequency of posts. Then, there was a shift to reward longer content, and the average first-page result on Google was 2,000 words long.

In 2021, the search engines are shifting to reward content quality. But it's not just the quality of your blog posts that matter – it's the quality of every piece of content on your website.

So, what makes a page or a post meet high-quality standards?

  • Keyword Intent – Does the content on the page satisfy the visitor's needs based on what they searched for?
  • User Experience – Does the page contain all of the components that one would expect and need? Often, pages are missing essential pieces of content. For example, a typical contact page usually displays (at minimum) an address, phone number, and hours of operation. A typical product page usually requires product images, a description, a price, available inventory, and reviews.
  • Structure – Does the page/post have a clearly defined structure, marked by the proper use of H1, H2, and H3 tags? Structure assists search engines and visitors in easily scanning and understanding content.
  • Speed – Does the page load reasonably fast? With today's technology, users are accustomed to instant gratification, so search engines reward pages that deliver on speed.

Actionable Tip

As you create your content strategy for 2021, go beyond thinking about blog post topics and a schedule. Take a step back and look at your existing content, starting with the content on your homepage. Go through the quality standards above and focus your attention on any areas of weakness. These are your biggest content opportunities in 2021.

Grow Your Authority

For a page or a post to truly qualify as “expert” content, you need great content as well as external validation of its greatness. That validation comes from offsite signals in the form of links. The search engines validate the authority of your domain and brand by looking for other websites that link back to yours.

We call these links “backlinks.” Backlinks have been a critical part of the search engine algorithms since the beginning, just like content.

According to Google, a website may have technically great content (unique, lengthy, structured, includes strong keyword intent, etc), but who wrote it also matters. If the individual or brand behind the content has strong authority in a given industry, then that content should outperform a comparable (or even better) piece of content published by a less authoritative site.

To grow your website's authority, ask yourself who you partner with. These partners can pass authority to your website by adding links to your site on theirs.

Here are a few examples:

Authority starts with a verified local business listing on Google Maps (via Google My Business) along with a listing on your local Chamber of Commerce's website. Then, build authority through adjacencies. For example, an interior designer may get a link when a partner who's a contractor mentions them. Local businesses can also give to nonprofits, who may add links to donor businesses on their websites. All of the examples above give Google a sense of how much authority a local business has in the real-world ecosystem of their community, which can translate to authority online.

Businesses with national audiences gain authority by sharing expertise on third-party websites, podcasts, webinars, etc. Guest blogging is a great example of sharing expertise. To get started, generate a list of partner businesses in your industry space. Then, simply reach out to suggest cross-promotional opportunities that benefit you both.

Actionable Tip

Growing your website's authority doesn't mean spammy mass link building; it means modeling your real world partnerships online so that Google knows how your business fits into your industry. Start by making a list of partners. Then, reach out to any partners who don't yet have hyperlinks to your business on their websites. Offer mutually beneficial ways of sharing content so that linking between websites is effortless.

SEO Doesn't Have To Be Overwhelming or Expensive

Take a guided approach and grow your business. Follow our process, use our tools, and rely on our coaches.

SCHEDULE A DEMO

Build Trust

and If you want to try a new restaurant, you probably search for and read online reviews before making your final decision.

If a visitor is about to hit the “Buy Now” button on your website but hesitates because they aren't sure they trust you, then you lose the sale.

Whether you have a local small business or a large eCommerce website, trustworthiness matters in SEO. It matters to your prospective website visitors/customers, and it matters to the search engines. They measure your trustworthiness, then reward you for it.

In 2021, focus on building online trust. Here's how you can go about it:

Start with your own website. Does it include testimonials? Are they located at key decision points, such as next to a contact form or beside a “Buy Now” button? Don't limit testimonials to one page; add reviews throughout your site.

Turn to Google Maps. Create systems so you can steadily increase your number of reviews on Google Maps. You may need to reach out to customers on an ongoing basis and encourage them to leave reviews; Google encourages this. Log in to Google My Business and navigate to the “Share Review Form” box to get more information.

Go beyond your website & Google. There are other portals that include opportunities for adding third party reviews. The best place to invest your efforts will depend on your industry space. Find out where your competitors are posting reviews, and analyze your business profiles on those platforms; Facebook can be a great place to start.

Actionable Tip

Start small. Ask a few customers for feedback (as opposed to “a testimonial”). This gives your customer space to be authentic, so you'll get the good, the bad, and the ugly. Take the good comments and turn them into testimonials. Take the bad and ugly comments to heart so that you can make changes to improve your business.

What's New in SEO in 2021

While SEO evolves (as opposed to outright changing), there are some new components to SEO in 2021. Here are a few updates that excite us:

Page Experience – Google will deploy a large algorithm update in May 2021 that focuses on page experience. The new page experience component will include Core Web Vitals along with mobile-friendliness and security.  Learn more about page experience and how you can prepare. 

Passages – Google now has the ability to rank a passage from a specific page – not just the page in its entirety. This is great news for content marketers! Stay with the long-form approach by creating content that takes dives deeply into a topic. Break that piece into sections that answer questions (like who, what, why, where, when, how) and those sections could end up  ranking for related search queries. 

Web Stories – The tappable short-form story format is growing as an immersive type of content. If you haven't seen these yet, check out this overview from Google

SEO in 2021 – A Step by Step Approach

SEO requires a series of small, steady steps. It's not magic; there are no shortcuts or tricks.

The key to success is clearly defining your path – then following it.

Pathfinder SEO's guided approach gives you the process, the tools, and the training. And we boost your efforts with one-on-one coaching.

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ga4

Getting Started with Google Analytics 4

January 1, 2021

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the new version of Google Analytics. It provides smarter insights into your website's performance so that you can make better data-driven decisions across your marketing initiatives.

In this quick guide, we'll introduce the core concepts of GA4 so that you can help guide your customers through the transition in the coming months.

Why the Change to Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics is rapidly evolving for several reasons:

  • End-user privacy is top of mind. From regulatory changes and browser updates to users wanting more control over their data, there've been a lot of updates to online privacy in recent years. This has pushed Google to transition to a platform that will accommodate these changes, while still providing marketers with accurate and rich data.
  • There is too much data. Whether you have a local business or enterprise-level website, marketers are overwhelmed by data. In this world of big data, Google Analytics is rethinking how best to display the data it generates to make it more insightful and powerful.

Why Is It Called Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics is 15 years old! Google Analytics 4 is the 4th version, hence the name. Here's a brief history of the timing of the platform's evolution:

  • Urchin – 2005
  • Classic Google Analytics – 2008
  • Universal Analytics – 2013
  • Google Analytics 4 – 2020

You'll hear the “old version” of Google Analytics referred to as Universal Analytics and the “new version” as GA4.

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How is Google Analytics 4 Different from Universal Analytics?

There are backend and frontend changes to Google Analytics, making the transition from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics 4 the most dramatic leap forward in the product's history.

At a top level, Google Analytics 4 is:

  • Built with machine learning, which makes the data more insightful.
  • Designed to provide you with a complete understanding of a full customer life cycle.
  • Built to be durable and scalable. It'll work with or without cookies.

Here are the three biggest changes to the old platform:

In the first three versions, Google Analytics relied on the concept of hits, or pageviews. Users and sessions were the focus of this model. If we wanted to leverage events (like tracking interaction with a PDF or video player), we had to write custom code.

The new version of Google Analytics moves to an event-driven landscape, giving marketers data beyond pageviews. The new data includes scroll tracking, video engagement, site search, file downloads, and more. This codeless event tracking is all available in GA4 without having to create any custom events.

Google Analytics is implemented using a tracking code that you place on each page of your website. The tracking code for Google Analytics 4 is radically different from the tracking codes utilized in the first three iterations of Google Analytics.

The three first iterations of GA were mostly user interface updates; the tracking code remained the same, continuing to track pageviews. In fact, if you were to place the Urchin tracking code from 2005 on your website today, you'd still pull data into the Universal Analytics platform!

Google Analytics 4 is installed on your website using a Global Site Tag. This new tracking code supports the event-based model. We'll dive more into the tracking code later in this guide.

If you've recently taken a look at Google Analytics, then you'll notice that the user interface looks quite different; it's been entirely reimagined.

With Universal Analytics, we thought in terms of the ABC's – Acquisition, Audience, Behavior, and Conversions.

With Google Analytics 4, this shifts to Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, and Retention.

New Features in Google Analytics 4

Change is hard. And knowing this is a big one can make it feel overwhelming. Let's look at the new features included in Google Analytics 4 to get you excited!

Audiences today are fragmented. The customer acquisition life cycle includes multiple touchpoints – often from multiple devices. This makes it hard to track one user across their journey from prospect to customer.

With Universal Analytics, we rely on cookies and authentication (logging into a website) to map this journey. This has its limits. For example, many websites don't have visitors who log in to the website.

With GA4, there are new identification methods to track users across both platforms and devices. For example, GA4 leverages information about Google users who have logged into Google via their browsers.

These new identification methods preserve privacy while giving marketers more accurate data about users.

Recently sent an email to your audience? Launched a new product and want to watch engagement? Often, these moments lead to the need for real-time data. What's happening on your website right this second?

Both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 support real-time reports. In Google Analytics 4, we can get even more granular data in our real-time views.

There are many property settings in Universal Analytics which only impact future data. Filters are a good example – if you apply a new filter to a Google Analytics property, then it will impact the data collection moving forward, but there is no way to apply that filter to data from the past.

With Google Analytics 4, there are more settings that you can adjust, which will apply forwards and backward and can even be reverted. This flexibility is powerful!

Debugging Universal Analytics is tricky; it usually involves jumping between multiple browser windows and tools.

Good news with GA4 – it has a new debug view. You can see every interaction, in the order, they occurred. You can click on any interaction and see its metadata to confirm everything is set up correctly. If you use Google Tag Manager in preview mode, it'll dump all of that data into the debug view.

Audience building using advanced segments is an intermediate to advanced Google Analytics skill. This is a feature in both Universal Analytics and GA4.

With Universal Analytics though, we're limited to sessions and user-scoped segments. For example, grouping all visitors who visited a certain page or stayed on the site for a certain length of time.

With GA4, we can additionally create segments based on events. For example, grouping all users who engaged with specific video content on your website or a specific webpage.

We can powerfully utilize permanence in these segments. For example, if you use Google Analytics to build audiences for your Google Ads remarketing campaigns, you may want to stop targeting someone once they make a purchase. But is that considered temporary or permanent? With GA4, we can define these use cases and specify stopping ads for a specific timeframe (say, a month after purchase), then resume remarketing to this audience.

Goals allow us to flag user engagement that signals a conversion for our business. For example, for a lead-generating website, a goal may be the completion of a contact form.

In Universal Analytics, goals are permanent and you're only given 20 slots. You have to create goals manually, which can be cumbersome and tricky.

In Google Analytics 4, you're given 30 goal slots, which can be enabled and disabled at will. Goals are flexible and easy to set up (at least for events) with a simple toggle.

How long did it take users to complete a form or to check out? Where in our funnel did users drop out? Where did they go afterward?

In Universal Analytics this is hard (or impossible) to evaluate, but with GA4, we can utilize Funnel reports to see drop-off rates, completion rates, elapsed time, and so much more!

Upgrading to Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 can't yet fully replace Universal Analytics. The current recommendation is to employ a dual setup.

Dual setup gives you the best of both worlds – a Universal Analytics property and a GA4 property. It ensures that your data begins collecting in GA4 for future use while the product continues to evolve. And it gives you a sandbox in which to start practicing using the new interface.

For existing Google Analytics accounts, dual setup means creating a new GA4 property within your existing account.

For new Google Analytics accounts, the default experience is GA4. We do suggest, though, creating both Universal Analytics and GA4 properties in your new account.

This video shows you how to set up Google Analytics on a WordPress website following the dual setup approach. We utilize Google Tag Manager. Note, that the same process works for Squarespace, Wix, Shopify, and other websites. You'll simply need to utilize their directions to install the Google Tag Manager code.

Additional Resources

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