Google+ Local is Fricking Hard! Don't Discount Your Time and Knowledge!

Linda Buquet

Jun 28, 2012
Google+ Local is HARD!
(My Dr. analogy)

Image commissioned for our use by Greg Gifford

Some of you may know... I gave up! I QUIT doing Google+ Local Optimization for clients exactly 2 years ago.

Here is my public resignation post, if you missed it and want to find out why I quit.

But as you know I still do consulting and mentoring for many of the local search consultants that I train.

I just had a Local Search firm that became a new training & consulting client. They are doing my full training, but also have one client in particular that is stuck and they just can't get them to rank.

They expressed to me that they felt so bad about the lack of ranking improvement, that they were planning to discount their fee for this client. I wanted to share with you the advice I gave to them.

In this biz no one can wave a magic wand and just make it all better.

All anyone can do is the best they can do!

Here's an analogy I gave the consultant above - feel free to use on tough cases!

If you go to the Dr, that Dr should run all the right tests, explain all the options, explain what could be wrong or be honest if they can't figure out what's wrong. But even if the Dr can't figure out what's wrong and make it all better - you still pay for the appointment time, for their skills and knowledge, for the and for running all the tests.

Just like medicine and trying to fix the human body - local search is not an exact science and every case, like every person is different. Just like people respond to medicines differently and have different side effects - Google Local is not consistent and the outcomes are not always predictable

You can't always get it right.
Some cases are complicated by things wayyyy beyond our control!​

(Google quirks, anomalies, unwritten rules, bugs, actions by client or their previous SEOs old crappy backlinks, new domains, slow domains, lingering previous G+ Local penalties, moves, name changes, distance from centroid, etc.)

Does not mean you failed. Does not mean you should discount your time & expertise!

Just like the good Dr, if you do your best, go beyond the call of duty, try to diagnose and fix the problem, you should be paid for your services, your time & your knowledge.

By the way, that consultant that could not get their client to rank. We did consulting and found the issues. It was totally fixable after a deep dive and some ranking troubleshooting.

So I'm hoping my little Dr analogy gives you some inspiration and possibly some wording to use when you have a tough case or a client that wants a discount because ranking is not improving as much as they think it should.

Be like the good Dr. Don't discount!

Oct 2, 2012
I agree with 100% of what you said .... unfortunately that's not what the client wants to hear. They're paying you, because you're the expert, and if you don't set clear expectations from the beginning, get ready for the poo storm.

This is likely why the experts have moved into consulting other agencies as opposed to working directly with clients, or, in Whitespark's case, are doing a one off 90 day run where they clean everything up, fix your NAP and let the rest hopefully sort itself out.
Aug 9, 2012
Hey Andrew, you're right about it not being what the client wants to hear, and you're right about setting expectations. Linda sums it up with this line: "Some cases are complicated by things wayyyy beyond our control!" That's precisely the expectation that needs to be set.

Please note that our LocalSpark program is the exact opposite of "letting the rest hopefully sort itself out". There is only one thing in the program that we don't do:

  1. We don't send outreach emails for our LocalSpark clients

We do absolutely everything else:

  1. We do a deep technical and SEO audit on the website, then our development team makes all the changes. We even tweak design and site structure. We don't miss a thing. The websites we work on would be considered 100% perfect when we're done.
  2. We troubleshoot and solve any Google+Local issues with the listing. Duplicates, hidden merged dupes, NAP consistency issues, local penalties. We enhance and make sure the listing is perfect.
  3. Nyagoslav Zhekov, who is the world's leading expert on citations IMO, personally cleans up all their citations and NAP issues across the ecosystem. Then he builds the best citations that the client may be missing. Perfect citation profile.
  4. Phil Rozek, who is world's leading expert on reviews IMO, analyzes their current reviews, their competitor's reviews, and develops a custom strategy for the client to make sure they're pulling in reviews regularly.
  5. We do an analysis of their existing links and record any spammy links that should be removed. Then we work with a company to get those links removed ( if you're curious). We look in WMT for any notices or problems and will submit disavow and reconsideration requests if needed.
  6. We analyze their existing site content and look at competitors to put together a strategy of important pages they should add, new content types they should create. We help them come up with a content production schedule to keep quality content being published on the site. When the client can't or doesn't have time to create content themselves, we put them in touch with someone from our network of writers to help them with it.
  7. We do an extremely deep dive into local link building strategies for them. We put together a comprehensive list of methods they can pursue to get links. It's not some generic "reach out to local bloggers" BS. It's more of "We researched local bloggers in your area and this is one you could forma relationship with by doing ____ and _____. Here's how we suggest you proceed: ____ Here's an outreach email temlate you should send: ______" We actually prospect for dozens of local link opportunities and provide step by step instructions on how the client will get them. The only thing we don't do is send the emails for them. We don't do this because we believe the outreach needs to be done by the business owner, not us.
  8. We even look at their social channels and make recommendations. We don't spend a lot of time on this, but we certainly make sure to focus on Google+ for the obvious benefits. We help them get up and running there and we'll help them build up their facebook page where it makes sense.

The package is extremely comprehensive. We just have a different approach. We have found that with most SEO campaigns all the "good" work is done in the first few months, then you're left wondering what to do next. I call this the "romance period". After that initial burst of good work, their rankings and leads go through the roof and then it flatlines. What's next is generally building content and chasing links. We don't think we should be doing that for our clients. We'll teach them how to do it, and stop billing them. I want the romance period only, not the awkward "what have you done for me lately" period. We think this is a win-win for the clients and us.

Hope this helps clarify.

Oct 2, 2012
I respectfully agree to disagree

While 75% of the battle is the setup, and ensuring all information is accurate, the outreach portion (ongoing authority building) is a huge piece of the puzzle, and expecting clients to actually move ahead with this, even after training them (at least in our experiences) is a pipe dream.

I agree it takes the onus off of the company providing the service, and that setting them up correctly from the get go is extremely valuable and there's less risk involved - it's not the entire picture.

Perhaps a discussion best served ... over Transcend Coffee :p
Aug 9, 2012
Yes, definitely disagree. Most local businesses don't need more than a handful of links to kill it. In today's SEO, the vast majority of link profiles are full of junk that actually bring them down. I see examples of business dominating all the time with just a few GOOD links. You don't need to keep at it forever in most industries.

David Mihm:
Oct 2, 2012
I definitely agree with that.

My point is, how much is a business willing to pay to 'get' those few good links. I liken it to "real marketing and outreach" just done online.

If it takes an agency 6 months and they charged the client thousands of dollars, but in the end they get the links which improves the clients traffic and conversions and they increase their bottom line by 5 figures - I believe that's a smart investment.
Aug 9, 2012
Sure. We know that there are come clients that will never follow through with the recommendations, and for those clients, we offer some recommendations for companies that can hold their hand through the next steps. I still think it's best for outreach to be done by the business though.

Outreach isn't our passion, local is, and we nail everything local for our LocalSpark clients. I think we get our clients 90% of the way there. Not 75%.

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Jul 26, 2012

You bring up some great points. But one thing to keep in mind is: the "right" local SEO arrangement depends on the client. For some, ongoing work makes sense. It's not a good deal for every case, though. The same is true of LocalSpark; we turn away a good 50% of leads.

It all just depends on the client, and on what the local SEO can offer 6, 12, 20 months out.

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