Steve Erlich Headshot

GA4 Deep Dive As Universal Analytics Is Soon Ending With Steve Erlich

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Does your website use GA4?

Is your website ready for GA4? Google Universal Analytics stops collecting data on July 1st, 2023.

And based on BulitWith.com, 25,939,381 websites still have Google Universal Analytics on them.

Is your website one of those?

Check out the live stats here – https://trends.builtwith.com/analytics/Google-Universal-Analytics

Bio

Steve Erlich is a digital marketing expert and the Director of Search at Digital Law Marketing, Inc. For almost 15 years, Steve has been helping lawyers achieve their SEO, PPC, social media goals, and other digital marketing objectives. Steve also helps clients coordinate their different marketing channels to create a consistent brand and maximize the impact of all their marketing efforts.

Resources

Website – https://www.digitallawmarketing.com

Twitter –  https://twitter.com/ImSteveErlich

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/steven-erlich-4a073028/

Brie Anderson:

LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/brieeanderson/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/brie_e_anderson?s=20

Dana DiTomaso:

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/dditomaso/

LinkedIn Learning GA4 Coursehttps://www.linkedin.com/learning/advanced-google-analytics-4-ga4

Questions I asked Steve

  1. What is GA4?
  2. Why change to GA4?
  3. What’s happening to Universal Analytics and the data?
  4. Are there any ways to keep my UA data?
  5. What is changing in GA4?
  6. What is Google Tag Manager, and why should I use it?
  7. Are there any challenges to using GA4? (API limitations)
  8. What new features of GA4 should a marketer or small business look for?
  9. Is GA4 GDPR compliant?
  10. Who should I be following for information on GA4?

[00:00] Matt Hepburn: Is your website ready for GA4. Google Universal Analytics stops collecting data on July 1, 2023. And based upon the website BuiltWith.com, there are 25,000,939,381 websites that still have Google Universal Analytics associated with them. Is your website one of those?

[00:28] Matt Hepburn: Welcome to The EMJ SEO Podcast, where it's all about you learning SEO so that you can rank in Google.

Hey, it's Matt Hepburn. I'm an SEO professional with 13 years of experience working as a consultant, working in large and small agency. And for the past seven years, I've been working in the enterprise sector for some of the biggest brands out there. I provide SEO tips for beginners, and I tell you straight out what's going to work and what's not going to.

Today, I welcome Stephen Erlich to the show. He is the CIO of Digital Law Marketing, a longtime friend, and a coworker from Martindale Hubble Lexis Nexis back in 2013 2014. So, we can definitely call ourselves old school SEOs. Steve has 15 plus years in digital marketing, everything from SEO, local SEO, PPC, and social media and beyond.

Today, we're going to be talking about the difficult topic of Google Analytics and the move from universal analytics over to GA4. Hey, Steve, welcome to the show.

[01:37] Steve Erlich: Hey, thanks, Matt. Good to see you.

[01:38] Matt Hepburn: It's absolutely great seeing you. It was really great catching up with you before the episode started. I was hoping you could tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and about your company and what you do.

[01:51] Steve Erlich: That'd be great. Sure. My name is Stephen Ehrlich. I've been working in the digital marketing space since probably about 2008. I would say I started even a little bit earlier than that, but I just didn't really know what I was doing at that point. But I came to understand it as search engine optimization, and I've expanded since then into pay per click and social media marketing as well. I'm co founder and the CIO of Digital Law Marketing. We're an exclusive digital marketing agency for attorneys. We focus on trying to bring high end value and not competing against ourselves. And yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

[02:43] Matt Hepburn: In this section, Steve tells us, what is GA4?

[02:45] Steve Erlich: Put it concisely. GA4 is a free analytics service that enables you to measure your traffic and engagement across your websites and apps in a bit longer form. It's the platform that Google is using to replace Google Analytics universal, which is their current product that everyone has come to know and for the most part, love over the last more than 15 years that that one's been around now. So, it's been a really interesting move into GA4, and there's a variety of reasons for that move.

[03:24] Matt Hepburn: So, I wanted to know, why should we move to GA4? What's the big deal?

[03:28] Steve Erlich: For starters, you don't really have much of a choice. Unfortunately. Google is starting the process of Sunsetting universal analytics, which is going to be a major challenge for a lot of small businesses as well as people that are learning SEO for the first time, or even experienced SEOs for that matter. I don't think Google has done such a great job, in my opinion, of communicating how this is all kind of working together. The great part about the move to Google Analytics is you do still have some time to move to GA4, but you should be starting to collect your data now if you have not started already.

[04:11] Matt Hepburn: So you may be asking yourself, why is Google changed? What's the big deal? Universal analytics has been around for 15 years. Why are they switching to GA4? This part of the episode goes into detail as to some of the reasons why they made this change.

[04:26] Steve Erlich: Those are kind of the more obvious reasons is obviously the data privacy regulations that are going on worldwide that really require you to be able to restrict what types of data you're collecting depending on the region, as well as where that data is stored on Google's end. So Google now only stores us. Data on us. Servers and they have other sites set up for storing data that is from international types of data. I have other speculation in terms of why they would make this move, including, I think Google is just trying to get out of the business. With so many websites existing now, just trillions of websites, they are really trying to get out of the business, I think of storing data for free for people storing massive amounts of data for free. So, I think that has a lot to do with this move as well. Okay, but I don't think it's necessarily all a bad thing. I do think Google Analytics 4 and we'll get into some of this as we go along, but it really does allow you to visualize your data much better, and it really lets you control what you want to see and where you want to see it. And I've come to relatively like it. You just also have to be prepared for the challenges that you'll come across along the way.

[06:02] Matt Hepburn: So, if you're curious to understand what happens with Ga data from Universal Analytics and GA4, and does this data kind of work together or how is it stored? This part of the episode goes into much greater detail about these issues.

[06:18] Steve Erlich: Well, I guess for starters, obviously they're getting out of the business of storing data for free. And one of the things that's happening that they have not communicated very well, although it is in their notes, I can't say it's not there. But in general, you get this pop up in Google Analytics. If you've been in Universal Analytics, you've probably seen it asking you, do you want to create a GA4 property? Right? Side note there I would hit no and create the Google Analytics for property on your own. Otherwise, it's going to start trying to pull in and recreate all types of things that are from your universal account. You should really look at this as a chance to get a fresh start, to kind of change the way that you view analytics. And I think it'll be a good thing in the long run, but in the short term, it's going to be a lot of pain for a lot of people, unfortunately.

[07:18] Matt Hepburn: So, in this section, we really get into the weeds about the compatibility of universal analytics and GA4. And what does that mean and what can you do move forward for storing data and such?

[07:31] Steve Erlich: There's a lot of things that have changed drastically, some things haven't changed drastically and are really just a rebranding. So page views, for example, has changed to views that's just to more appropriately, since this works in apps as well as websites, it's helping to call that in an app. You wouldn't really call it a page view, so it's helping to standardize the metrics so that if you're jumping between an app and a website and then back to the app, they can kind of track that seamlessly, which is something that Universal was not effective at.

[08:10] Matt Hepburn: In this section of the podcast, Steve talks about how you can get your data out of universal analytics and what you should consider doing moving forward.

[08:18] Steve Erlich: Yes and no. They are sunsetting the data, as I said, you have about six months after July 31, which is when Google has announced they are going to stop tracking data in Google Analytics. You'll have about six months after that to pull whatever data you want out of universal analytics before it goes away forever, which was a very overwhelming thing when I first heard it, right? Sure, there are lots of different ways you can export that data. You can go ahead and export it to Google Sheets manually, one by one, and try and organize it and put it all back together in a readable format. Obviously, you can download PDF versions of all of your old data, but for most companies, that's not going to be an effective solution.

[09:13] Matt Hepburn: That's right.

[09:14] Steve Erlich: What we did at Digital Law Marketing is we are in the process, as we speak actually, of dumping all of that data from universal analytics into Big Query so that we can go ahead and pull that data at any time, obviously within certain restrictions. And again, when you do that, if you choose to do that, make sure you know the regulations in your region about what would be considered what they call PII or personally identifiable information type of data, and make sure you're compliant. But it's not against any regulation to pull high level types of data from universal analytics. Dump it into something like Big Query, and then you can use Big Query to create your Looker studio or Data Studio reports, as you would normally. And one of the difficult challenges here is you really can't blend, as you mentioned, the universal analytics data with the GA4 data. So, you're going to still have to get a little bit creative with how you set up your new Looker Studio dashboards. At least I have not found a way to blend the two sets of data yet. I don't think there's a way because of the differences in the metrics such as bounce rate versus engagement rate. If you log into GA4, you'll notice bounce rate is not there by default. It's called engagement rate. You can flip it back to bounce rate. A lot of people don't know that. You can still use bounce rate if you prefer bounce rate. Engagement rate is basically just the inverse of the bounce rate. So, if your bounce rate is 60%, your engagement Rate would be 40%.

[11:01] Matt Hepburn: So, it sounds like if you're going to use something like Data Studio, or Looker Studio, as it's now known, you might have two kind of reports in there, or pages that have reports where you have all this data in a dashboard where you're able to basically pull that and have metrics. And the benefit of that over a PDF, like you were saying before, is you can one download that into a spreadsheet if you need to. If you're doing a year over year report next year, and you're comparing the GA4 data to this, and you know it's a bounce rate versus an engagement rate, you can still say, well, here were our numbers last year over this year, or if it's quarter over quarter right, whatever. It is still really important that we have those metrics. So this is kind of the critical thing that businesses should hire somebody that understands this to be able to have all this data. Otherwise, if they wait till the last minute and they're just pulling it by spreadsheets, they're not going to have all the data, and they're not going to go back as far as they possibly can from their data analytics. So, I love the fact that you're bringing this up here. Steve talks about the new functionality within GA4 versus universal analytics and what that means for us moving forward as we report metrics.

[12:31] Steve Erlich: Well, that's kind of beyond the simple metrics that we were just talking about. There's a lot of things that are changing from the perspective of GA4 versus universal. You could ping the API as many times as you wanted to be able to pull data directly from universal analytics into Looker Studio. If you're creating any kind of complex reports and you're trying to pull directly from GA4 into Looker Studio, you're going to run into probably some problems with the data pulling in correctly or at all. They've set something around, and I'm not exactly sure on the number, but I believe it's 120 pings to the API per hour. So, if you have a big report where you're pulling in a lot of data, you're going to hit that 120 before you even get through the report. And all of a sudden you'll run into a lot of errors and things along those lines. So that's one of the other benefits to dumping all of that data into Big Query. One of the things that is nice is there is a direct connection between GA4 and Big Query that is free to use, which allows you to, from the day you set it up, moving forward, to bring that data from GA4 into Big Query without an intermediary. But again, this depends on how much data you have. So, for an agency with a lot of clients, this may not be the easiest solution. And if you're going to get started on the process of dumping universal analytics data or GA4 data, I can tell you firsthand, it's a painfully slow process in a lot of ways because you can't just hit one button and let it all dump at once. You will run into API troubles. You really kind of have to when you're backfilling the data using we use Super Metrics as our intermediary. But as you're dumping that data, if you try and do too much at once, the API is basically going to come up and tell you you're making too many simultaneous requests and will basically tell you no. So, it does require a little bit of manual work, sitting there and set by set, dumping that data in and deciding exactly what data you even need to dump in, because dumping all of it is not necessarily going to be the most efficient option. So, figuring out what data you need is important.

[15:13] Matt Hepburn: In this section, Steve talks about where we can actually go to get some additional learning on GA4 so we can come to this with experience, to the businesses that we serve. So, I can tell you right off the bat, Steve, that there's probably people that are going to be listening to this episode and saying, how do I get in touch with Steve, because I need help with that.

[15:36] Steve Erlich: Well, I can tell you for me personally, I wound up working with a colleague in the space. Her name is Brie Anderson. I'm happy to share her contact information and she does a great team training that she walked our team through to help us understand what we didn't understand and reinforce what we already knew. Dana Di Tomaso, who's very well known if I mispronounced her name, I apologize, but does an absolutely excellent job with she did a Whiteboard Friday just a couple of days ago, I believe, or a couple of weeks ago, I'd have to pull the date on it. But again, same type of thing. Does an absolutely great job of explaining things. She has a LinkedIn course as well in LinkedIn Learning, which will help you with GA4. And one of the big things is learning to use tag manager for me, I am on Twitter. You'll see. I'm not very active on Twitter, not because of a lack of interest, but more so due to a lack of time to get as involved as I like. I'm more of an eagle hanging above watching what's going on than a participant. But by all means, if you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Twitter or give me a shout out on Twitter and I'll more than happy to answer any questions that I can.

[17:09] Matt Hepburn: In this section of the podcast, Steve talks about Tag Manager and introduces Tag Manager to you so that you have a better understanding about what Tag Manager is and what it does.

[17:18] Steve Erlich: Well, Google Tag Manager is a great tool that Google released a couple of years ago now. And it really allows you to, rather than messing with the code on the back end of your site on a regular basis, to deploy all your scripts and tags and instructions through Tag Manager instead of having to alter your code every single time you want to make an update. So, for a company like ours that's using things like Live Chat, that's using things like Call Tracking, where we have all these different scripts that need to deploy and they need to deploy only on specific pages versus on the site as a whole, you're going to find it a lot easier to deploy and organize those in tag Manager with GA4. The reason Tag Managers become even more important is everything in GA4 is considered an event, right? So this has to do, again, with the way they've changed to using, the way they've changed their cookies, and the way they've changed the way that they're collecting data. But the nice thing about it is you can set all your parameters in Tag Manager. You can basically live out a Tag Manager. So, a lot of instructions that you'll see for GA4, you'll notice that if you go into the settings in Tag Manager and pull a GA4 event tag in there, you'll be able to set your parameters just like if you were setting them directly in GA4. So it's a really great tool. It is a little bit different than I think some people are used to, and running tests on it and getting used to it is definitely a task. But one of the things that I will say is kind of as you alluded to before, is if you get really proficient with Tag Manager and GA4, I can tell you firsthand from my own perspective as well as talking with other business owners and SEO managers that people are looking for. People with the skill set of understanding Tag Manager, understanding GA4, being able to dump all of that data into Big Query and then learning to use Big Query to display that data in. Looker, Studio, this is a skill set that I think is going to only grow in importance, especially over the next year. Like if you're talking about what's really hot in 2023, I think this is the way to go to get yourself into a good position at an SEO company. If you are kind of new to the industry and looking for like, what's that hot button thing that everyone's going to be looking for? I think a lot of people don't even know they're going to need it yet, and that's how you are ahead of the game if you're learning it right now.

[20:21] Matt Hepburn: Here Steve talks about the pre-configured features that come with GA4 out of the box that you can implement.

[20:28] Steve Erlich: One of the nice things about GA4, I didn't really mention so much about the reports and the explorations and things in GA4 yet, but as much as all the things in GA4 you're going to find require a lot more manual configuration, basically you need to tell Google now what you want to see. Google is not going to basically tell you what it thinks you need to see as universal kind of allowed you to do. But one of the nice things is on the event side of things, a lot of these events are actually pre-configured by Google Now and are automatically tracked and all you have to do is turn them on the back end to turn them into a conversion. So, things like file downloads for a lot of forms, you'll find you can get some form information directly pulling in as you mentioned if there's a specific button or something that you want to track. A lot of these things are actually pre-configured. Some things you're going to have to manually configure on your own and some things, depending on what software you're using, may be finicky and not want to work the way that Google is automatically set up to analyze it. But it is nice to have those at least preset up so that you can basically just click a button to deploy them as conversions, which is really a nice feature.

[21:59] Matt Hepburn: So you want to know where the tricks of the trade are with GA4 and what features you need to turn on so you don't lose your data. You should listen to this section carefully.

[22:10] Steve Erlich: Well, I have both features to talk about here, I guess, as well as some things, some settings that you're going to want to pay close attention to.

[22:19] Matt Hepburn: Lovely.

[22:21] Steve Erlich: The first thing you're going to want to do when you start GA4 is to go into your data retention settings. So, you would go into Admin, the Admin section, and then under there, under the property, you'll see data collection. When you go in there, the first thing by default you're going to notice is that data retention is set to two months, which is the default setting, and you'll be very unhappy if you leave it at two months. Essentially, you'll take the analytics out of the equation is the way I heard it phrased. And I think that's very true. One of the things there, you want to change that to be 14 months. So the maximum it allows you to go to is 14 months. Now, there's been a lot of confusion about data retention in GA4 and about what that means that you're only retaining data for 14 months. From my understanding of it, and again, most of my clients have not been set up for the full 14 months yet. We started in September and October of last year, really making sure everyone was set up. But from the way that I understand it, from people who have had it set up a lot longer than we have, is that there's still high level, your high-level data. You'll still be able to see what they're focused on is things that would allow you to see more precise data in your so something that is considered what's the word I'm looking for here? Something that's considered like a big bulk of data, will still be available to you. Something that's considered more kind of like niche data is going to be a little bit harder to access or impossible to access. So, things that involve personal information of any kind and things like that are all going to start to kind of slowly fade depending on the timeline that your data retention is set to. As I have not seen exactly what's available after 14 months, I can only go based on the things that I've read. But from my understanding you'll still have data after 14 months. You just won't be able to create explorations using that data. So that will create a challenge if you're not using Looker Studio and if you're not kind of pulling that data another way. But from my understanding, it doesn't mean that after 14 months, you're going to go back 14 months on your overall traffic chart and you're just going to see nothing. That's not really the case. As I understand it. I understand it to be a lot more precise than that. One of the other settings that is important to check is off by default. Somebody like me, a lot of my clients don't need this information, so I can leave it off. But it's under the Google signals area. I'd have to pull up the exact name of it. But you'll turn this setting on only if you need male female data. For example, things that become a little bit more fall a little bit more under that PII type of information, you do have to manually turn that on, and that is under that same data collection section. It's not under retention, it's under one of the other there are three things under there and I can't pull the name off.

[26:07] Matt Hepburn: Is it more demographic type of information?

[26:10] Steve Erlich: Yeah, it's exactly more demographic type of information. I'm just pulling it up right here just so I can see it for you. But it would be under data collection. It's called Google Signals Data Collection, and Google has a whole little thing right under here that tells you what and why you should be turning this on or leaving it off. One of the things that I am currently investigating that I'm more than happy to provide an update at some point in time is how this having this on versus off, when you're dumping data into Big Query, how careful you have to be about what fields this is going to pull into your Big Query. Because, again, storing that data for an extended period beyond what is legal in your area may cause you a big legal headache. And we've left it off for most of our clients. We do have a couple of clients that have wanted to turn it on, specifically when you're talking about things like divorce and they're trying to figure out their male female audiences. From what I understand, you won't get that information without that on. Sure, we're still in the early stages ourselves, but I felt like this is the topic that I got to start talking to people about, because as soon as I mentioned some of these things to people, there the brain exploding. Emoji.

[27:46] Matt Hepburn: In this section of the podcast, we dive into privacy, GDPR, and how Google Analytics 4 handles this.

[27:55] Steve Erlich: Well, some of these things we did touch on a little bit already in terms of how the data is stored and things of that nature, whether it's stored in the US. Versus the EU. And you have a lot of different regulations from area to area and even state to state in the United States, there are some states that are adopting, I would say, laws that are probably a little closer to the EU than the general laws, state to state. In the US. Google does still use cookies, but they're called first party cookies, which is a little bit different. Without getting into kind of the technical side of it, that is what keeps them compliant with GDPR in terms of the way that they're collecting data and the way that Google is kind of filling in those gaps is using all the machine learning technology that we've all been hearing about for years in terms of Google's ability to understand larger sets of data based on extrapolation of the data they've been able to collect.

[29:08] Matt Hepburn: So one of the things that I had heard in the past was another concern for GDPR and analytics was the IP address.

[29:16] Steve Erlich: That was IP address storage in GA4, which is actually, I think, a good thing because they track things now by user ID versus IP address. So it allows you to understand an individual's journey through your website without understanding exactly who the individual is, without being able to pinpoint that exact data. So this is something I would consider to be a good overall change.

[29:50] Matt Hepburn: So what did the IP address used to collect besides location?

[29:55] Steve Erlich: Right.

[29:56] Matt Hepburn: It was like country, maybe region. Was there any other information that it used to collect? Do you know?

[30:01] Steve Erlich: There was a lot of information it used to collect. I don't have the whole list off the top of my head, but it also depends on what else you were doing with your site or application. And that really is where you got into really murky territory. Even beyond that I love it. Murky even beyond the base issues. But I have not done part of the reason. We just hired somebody to kind of dig into a lot of the compliance laws because not only do you have compliance issues with GA4, but depending on what other third-party software that you may or may not be using, you can run other compliance issues. So, regarding your forms, regarding your live chat service, if you use a service like a live chat. So, there's a lot of issues regarding GDPR, compliance and PII that even elude me. And even though I work with a lot of attorneys, I am not an attorney for sure. Any advice provided in this podcast should not be considered. Yes, an attorney's advice. Please consult with an attorney. Consult with your local regulations. Don't rely on me on that. I can give very high-level stuff, but I don't want to mislead people.

[31:31] Matt Hepburn: So, you want to set yourself apart as an SEO in 2023. One of the biggest opportunities for you to do that is to become an expert within GA4. This section of the podcast is going to go into some prerequisites that you might want to take a look at to do just that.

[31:50] Steve Erlich: I know, as I said, I know business owners I've spoken to directly who have I've watched them hire experts in these areas. If you're coming into the space as a new person and you can really become an expert on GA4 and on how to combine the benefits of GA4 and looker studio, and if you can help them figure out things like how to dump Universal into Big Query so that you can then have all that data. That historical data. Historically, you're going to put yourself in such a good position over a lot of other people. I can tell you. Up until a couple of weeks ago, we were collecting data as of last year. But up until one of the reasons we talked about doing this podcast a couple of weeks ago and I said, you know what, let me get proficient in this before I go on and try and advise anybody as to what they should be doing. But yeah, absolutely think this is the big thing that will set you apart, apart from the other people that are applying for the same positions. And the nice thing is if you learn how to do this and sticking to GA4, for the most part. But if you learn how to do this, I'm sure whatever business you're working with also has GBP profiles. You'll definitely want to set up Search Console. The same thing is true for search console and GBP. You have limited storage of that data that only goes back in Search Console. It's 16 months, and GDP I think, is about the same right now. If you learn how to dump analytics into Big Query and then push it to looker studio, you can do the exact same thing with GBP and Search Console. And even depending on working with Super metrics, for example, we can pull certain things. A lot of the call tracking services, such as we use Call Rail personally, but a lot of the call tracking services now have a limited amount of time that they're willing to store any data for you for. So for Call Rail, it's 25 months, 24, 25 months. The nice thing is I can dump small pieces of that data so that I can pull multi year. So, say we've had a client since 2015. Well, if you're not dumping that data into something else, there's no way to pull. How many phone calls did they get in 2015? You have to reference your old reports if you still have hard copies of them to be able to determine, okay, well, how did 2015 compare to 2023? Same thing. If you are just working with a small business or an enterprise, same problem exists as you may want to be able to pull that data longer. Obviously. Again, please make sure that you check what's legal in your region in terms of pulling. Don't pull any names or phone numbers or IP addresses or any other personally identifiable information into a big query report because you're going to get yourself in trouble. But you can definitely pull overall numbers into there and you can pull things that help you analyze how are you doing in this period versus how are you doing in this period? And we found that to be a very useful feature as well. As I mentioned, we use Super metrics as our connector there. They do a great job, great customer support team over there. So I can't really praise them enough. It's not a cheap solution if you are running a lot of properties. I won't say that it's something that you're going to want to pay for yourself, but their individual licenses to work with one platform, work with one account are actually very affordable. So if you just want to get in there and get some experience, you can absolutely do that. And as I said, their customer support is excellent, and they have great support articles and knowledge bases and things that you can pull whatever information you need. And then obviously from there, it's just a matter of remaining compliant within the restrictions. One of the things I do like about them is they really stay away from pulling PII. So by default, most of the platforms that I've worked with using Super metrics, they've avoided PII altogether and I haven't had to modify it too much. So that's always nice.

[36:35] Matt Hepburn: Want to be the hero of your company that you work for or the company that you own? The way to do that is to centralize all of this different data that we're talking about. This section of the podcast is going to deep dive right into that. So, I'm going to tag into this. So, if you are freelancing or being a consultant or you're doing your own SEO side hustle, you don't really have to worry so much about where you're going to store your different reports. So Steve actually just mentioned a 2015 report. So, let's say you are storing data. If you're smart, you're actually storing the data all in the same place. You're going to be numerically putting it there by the month or the year and you're going to have that data and then, so now you could pull it into Big Query. Right. But once you start getting into an agency scenario, you're working for an agency or an enterprise scenario, what you have here is the opportunity to centralize all this data. When you have an SEO team where you've had members, employees who have come and gone, sometimes this data is stored on their individual computers. It's not stored locally. Maybe it's in the cloud somewhere. So, another thing that you can actually bring to the table here is centralized location of this data for the organization, no matter whether employees come or go. And that way they can reference this. A lot of times when key employees leave, they lose that data because they don't realize that data is in that local machine the employee had. So that would be the other thing that another benefit you can bring to the table in 2023 is the centrally located information for the business where they can have this, and they could always reference it no matter where an SEO employee works or doesn't work for that company. Great.

[38:32] Steve Erlich: One of the nice things too about Looker Studio is once you figure out how to connect all these different things and pull it into Looker Studio, you can essentially automate your reporting process where that's right. All you have to do one of the tough things we're a five-man SEO team, as I mentioned to you earlier, with close to 200 locations. Now in terms of that, we're managing. One of the difficult things with this is when you're trying to report to clients, we wasted so much time on reporting in terms of creating, taking individual screenshots out of different applications and then trying to put it together into like a nice PowerPoint. It burns so much clock. And absolutely once you get this set up, all you have to do is flip the date ranges and the whole report flips over for you. And it makes it where reporting to a client setting up that report. It's a five-minute, ten-minute process and it allows you to focus time on moving your clients or your business forward instead of focusing so much on trying to analyze what happened, moving backwards.

[39:56] Matt Hepburn: So, I'm going to tag into that. So, another thing you can do with Looker Studio, which used to be Data Studio, is you can integrate with Rank Ranger, which was bought by Similar Web and the benefit of that, whether you're working at an agency or whether you're working for an enterprise company, is with the level that actually integrates. And it's of course a paid solution. You have the ability to have 250 campaigns on that starting level. So, if you are managing a lot of different locations like you're talking about, you can have individual campaigns that go to individual Looker reports, right? Or if you're working on an enterprise level company, you have different reports that you're setting up and campaigns based upon. You have international sites. So maybe it's a language specific or it's a subdomain or it's this main domain, whatever it might be. Or maybe it's just this region of this product page and its related posts that are associated with it, whatever it might be. You can pull all this data in separately for the different ranking of the keywords, and then you can also do it with the different search engines. So, the lovely thing about Looker is that you can have different pages in a report that bring in all these different metrics. The analytics, the ranking, the call tracking, whatever it might be. You have the ability to pull in a lot of different metrics and have it in one place. And to what Steve said, it allows you to be able to share it with the C suite or the leadership or whoever it's going to be. And they can just change the date range in the data, and it will auto populate the information that's there. And that's the beauty of that. For managing reporting for 100 plus, 200 plus locations?

[41:54] Steve Erlich: Absolutely. When you have clients calling you constantly or a CEO or whatever constantly nudging you for, hey, how are we performing? How are we performing? That's right, we're performing. One of our solutions, especially some of our clients have CMOS at their firms that kind of want to be able to just pop in at their leisure and kind of see, okay, how are we progressing, how are we doing? Looker Studio just allows you to do that very easily and without them having to essentially have you updated every time they want an update.

[42:34] Matt Hepburn: Did you have a ranking solution that links into that you wanted to mention?

[42:39] Steve Erlich: No, that’s one of the things I'm glad you mentioned Rank Ranger, because it is on my list of things that we are.

[42:46] Matt Hepburn: I will connect you off the call with my contacts there.

[42:50] Steve Erlich: Oh, that's great. That is one of the solutions that I was like, we for a long time, worked with another company, but it's been difficult to we pull everything into spreadsheets and then we can use the spreadsheets to display it in Looker studio if we want to. But a lot of times I'll just say a lot of clients don't have the attention span to go through any kind of vast ranking report, so we keep it concise and simple to what their primary focuses are. It's a lot of data that you're going through, for sure.

[43:33] Matt Hepburn: For me, I love it because I can put in the tracked keywords into that and I can have it by the mobile tablet, web, all the type of the different filters that you want to have as to be able to where it's showing up. And I've done that on the enterprise level, and I've loved it because I've been able to share reports specifically for different pages or whatever the keyword ranges and be able to say, here you go, you can look at it at your leisure.

[44:06] Steve Erlich: Yeah, I would absolutely love to kind of find a little easier solution than the one that we have. So, we'll talk offline.

[44:15] Matt Hepburn: We'll definitely talk offline, probably momentarily. So, listen, I know that we can talk for a long, long time and I'm going to let the audience go because I know they have other podcasts they want to listen to as well. But I'm looking forward to inviting you back to the show and following up on GA4 and Local and whatever you're willing to bring to the show.

[44:40] Steve Erlich: I'd love to.

[44:41] Matt Hepburn: Yeah, fantastic. Well, listen, you have a wonderful day and we'll talk to you very soon.

[44:47] Steve Erlich: Sounds good. You too, Matt.

[44:48] Matt Hepburn: Awesome. Are you ready to break through and accelerate? How you learn SEO. Then please don't forget to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode. You can subscribe on the podcast platform of your choice or join our email list at EMJpodcast.com so we can keep you up to date. This is The EMJ SEO Podcast with Matt Hepburn, and we'll see you next time.

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Author

  • Matt Hepburn

    Matt is the founder of The Focus Visibility Podcast. Matt has over 14 years of experience in search engine optimization. Matt has worked with various enterprise businesses, including Mend.io formerly (White Source Software), John Hancock USA, SEMrush, Commvault, and iCIMS. Matt has also worked in large and small agency environments, including Martindale Hubble, WebROI, and Search Interactions. Additionally, Matt brings 14 years of consulting on organic traffic issues that affect businesses.

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