Hiring Another Gun at Local Visibility System

It’s busy around here.

Lots of projects for clients old and new.  Then there’s blogging, LocalSpark, the time I spend running and lifting, and the need for a little time left over to be a halfway decent husband and to kinda sorta have a life.

Much of what clients pay me for is work that only I should do (for one reason or another).  Also, I’ve long had a helper who handles the heavy lifting on citations.  Those two facts have made it a great setup for a long time, partly because I’ve never wanted to become an agency.  “Boutique consultancy” has been my bite-sized description of Local Visibility System.

But I want to free up more time, and to have someone who can move things along while I’m sleeping (often past noon 🙂 ).

That’s where you – or someone you know – might come in.  I’m hiring a part-time helper.

Here’s the rundown:

Basics:

  • You’ll mostly help me with hands-on client work.  I might also want help with research for blog posts from time to time.
  • Work on an as-needed basis – probably a few hours a week, at least at first.  This is not full-time employment.  I’ll send you a 1099.  The upshot is that I assume you’ve got a day job, so of course I’m fine with that taking precedence.
  • I’ll pay you hourly or per-project.  It depends partly on what type of project you’re working on for me, and how good you are at it already.  Well-developed skills are something you had to invest in.  On the other hand, if I need to help you develop a skill, I’m making an investment.  All very relevant to pay.  We’ll talk about this more.

Typical tasks:

  • Make changes to clients’ sites.
  • Research link opportunities.
  • Perhaps get on the phone with Google support occasionally.
  • Help me do research for blog posts.
  • Let me bounce ideas off you.

Requirements and preferences:

  • You must be an un-lazy communicator. Don’t send me a five-word, no-period email after I send you a new project and Paypal you.  Ask questions when you have them.  Be willing to get on the phone every now and then in the afternoon.  Remember what turnarounds we agree on, and let me know when you’re running late.
  • You need at least 2 years of hands-on experience doing local SEO (I’ll ask for detail.)
  • You’ll need to let me know if any conflicts of interest – like if one of my clients is a competitor to a client of yours.
  • I’d love if you’re a longtime reader of mine (or became so familiar with my posts that you fool me). I want you to know my general approach and philosophy.  Also, sometimes I’m lazy and don’t want to re-explain things I may have written about last year.
  • I’d love if you’re experienced at other online-marketing activities besides local SEO. (Ideally it’s something I’m not good at.)
  • If you email me about working together, you must tell me the name of our cat.  (Not as tricky as it sounds.)  That will tell me – among other things – that you actually read this.  I’m channeling my inner David Lee Roth.

What’s in it for me:

  • You’ll save me some time.
  • You may have some skills I don’t, and I might learn from you.

What’s in it for you:

  • Good money for the time you put in.
  • Flexible schedule.
  • You’ll learn my processes – which can help you in the rest of your local SEO / online-marketing career.
  • If I get leads for projects I wouldn’t be good at but you’d be good at, I can just refer those people to you (especially if you’re a freelancer).
  • You’ll gain a buddy and a reference.

Interested?  Zap me an email.  Please don’t send a resume – just a solid pitch.  Detail and specifics are good.  (No need for quite as much detail if I know you already.)  Some time after that, I’ll send you a quick “test” task.

New Hoop Added to Google+Local Phone Support

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Google+Local phone support ever since it came out last month.  And it sounds like the folks at Google are still doing a good job.

But apparently now they’re making you jump through a hoop (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing).

According to this new comment by Janelle Gilbert on my earlier post, Google now is asking business owners who contact phone support to verify their requested changes by email.  Here’s what Janelle wrote:

Update to my earlier comment: I used Google Phone support again today, and they now require authorization from the client in the form of an email–from the client’s domain–in order to approve changes an agency rep makes. In this case, I needed to manually verify a listing while simultaneously merging duplicates. Google sent an email to the utility Gmail account I set up for my client, “ABC Corp.” Google’s rep gave me verbal instructions, and here’s the actual email text:

Hello,

We spoke earlier today regarding your business verification. In order to verify your listing, we need to confirm that you own or have the authority to represent this business on local Google+ pages. Please complete the following steps in order to do so:

– Respond to this email and carbon copy (CC) a person who has an email address with the relevant business domain. For example, if we were attempting to verify a listing for Google, we’d CC someone with an @google.com email address.

– This person should ‘reply all’ and give written permission for Google to verify the listing. The response can be as simple as ‘Please verify the listing in the Google Places account, example@gmail.com.’

Their response will assist us in manually verifying the listing. If you need any additional assistance or questions feel free to reply to us.

This is a recent change according to the Google rep, and I can verify (pun intended) that statement since my last contact with Google Phone Support was mid-January and client approval was not required at that time. I hope this helps other agencies out there!

Have you contacted Google+Local phone support and been asked to jump through any verify-by-email hoops?  To what extent is this news to you?  What’s been your experience with the new support feature so far?  Leave a comment!

 

 

A Real-Life User of Google+Local Phone Support

A few days ago Google announced free, limited phone support for cases where you just can’t seem to verify your business’s Google+Local page.

As when the ’04 Red Sox won the World Series, this restored some of my faith in the goodness of the Natural Order.

But then I remembered what the ’05 and ’06 Sox taught me: Things often slide backwards before they move forward again.

I wondered:

Will people abuse Google’s phone support and ruin it for everyone and cause Google to go cheap again?

Will it be like calling Bank of America – hard or impossible to reach a human who can fog a mirror?

Will the person on the phone at Google not really help and simply regurgitate the “Quality Guidelines”?

So far, from what little I know at this early stage, the answers seem to be no, no, and no.  From what I’ve heard, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

None of my clients has needed to use Google+Local phone support so far.  But Travis Van Slooten of TVSInternetMarketing recently had occasion to use it for a Bermuda Triangle that one of his clients has been stuck in for weeks.  Actually, his client made the call.

(The problem seems to be in the process of being solved: Google’s ETA was a couple weeks, and it’s only been a couple of days since the phone call.)

Here’s what Travis kindly sent me, followed by what his client sent him after calling Google.  Maybe it sounds like your situation or that of someone you know.

It’s a great example of when you may want to use Google’s phone support, and what to expect:

Phil:

I work with a painting contractor in California who had multiple Google+ Local pages. He hired me specifically to get these duplicates deleted and to get his primary listing optimized as it was missing pictures, didn’t have a good description, etc. etc. Over the course of several weeks I got the duplicates deleted and his primary listing well optimized and ranking very well. He was in the A or B position for his main keywords.

Suddenly he emailed me that his rankings were gone. He was nowhere to be found and he wanted me to look into it. It didn’t take me long because when I logged into his dashboard, his listing was in “Pending Review” mode. Him and I were both scratching our heads. Why the heck would it suddenly be in pending review mode when it was doing just fine for several weeks?

Together, he and I spent the next several weeks to get the listing out of “pending review” – which consisted mostly of him bugging Google via the troubleshooter and me pinging the listing on a daily basis. The responses from Google’s help desk were the usual canned responses that his listing was in pending review and that they would review the listing in the coming weeks. Gee, thanks Google for stating the obvious 🙂 And the pinging didn’t do anything.

Desperate, I reached out to you for your recommendations. As I recall, what you said I was doing everything correct and that everything looked good, and you weren’t sure why it would be under review either.  Then you said if the listing didn’t come out of review soon that we should just start a new listing and basically start over. When I told the client that, he didn’t want to take that drastic move. He was willing to wait a while. He said he would contact me when he was ready to start over. That was about 4 weeks ago.

Then your email newsletter came, where you told us that Google now had a phone number you could call for support on these types of issues. I immediately contacted the client with this information. He called Google and here is his email back to me on how it went:

[Here is the email from the client]

Travis:

I went thru it last night and I got a phone call almost immediately and although the rep had a particular problem finding an email associated with my account he took my information and promised to call me right back. He called back about 20-30 minutes later but I was not able to take his call but he confirmed my account email and said my listing was officially verified. He also said that I can expect to have the review completed in 2 weeks time. He sounded confident about that and I was glad to talk to anybody so thanks for the tip. It worked great!

We shall see if this call actually does anything. The rep promised the review to be completed in 2 weeks time so we’ll be keeping an eye on it. It’s a shame my client wasn’t able to take the call because he could have asked why it was in review in the first place. Oh well, I suppose it won’t matter if his listing finally goes live again in a couple weeks. If it doesn’t, he’ll be calling Google again – and I’ll be making sure he is able to talk to Google to get the skinny on this pesky review status.

Have you had occasion to call Google+Local phone support?  Do you know someone who has?  Do you have a situation on your hands that you’re not sure has any other possible solution?  Let me know – leave a comment!

(Here’s where you can access phone support: you have to go through the troubleshooter, but there’s a number at the other end.)