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Podcast: Google Helpouts Review


This is Jonathan Goodman. Welcome to another episode of The World of Internet Marketing. It’s great to have you with us. Today we’re going to talk about Google Helpouts. I recently had the opportunity to get onto Goggle Helpouts and I built a couple of sessions or classes. I wanted to walk you through my experience, what I thought were difficult points and some really exciting things that I think are going on with this tool.

The Purpose of Google Helpouts

I had known about Goggle Helpouts for a while. The idea behind it is basically a community-based area where you can get experts to work with on a one-to-one basis, sometimes for free, sometimes for pay. It’s run by Google obviously. I think one of the biggest disadvantages is that they’re not really good at marketing so not only is this in beta, but it’s a little confusing because they’ve got Google Hangouts and Google Helpouts. So when you’re talking and you say Hangouts, you can say Helpouts or Helpouts instead of Hangouts and people get confused.

To make it worse, in order for the Helpouts to actually work, you have to go on to Google Hangouts. So it’s a little bit of a marketing fiasco. They could have named things a little bit differently. I have a feeling that Google is winding up – and this is not a criticism to Google, but it’s just what happens in a large corporation, which is what we see all the time. It’s very similar to Microsoft where Department A X-Box doesn’t talk to Department B Cellphones. So you wind up with miscommunications and duplications and efforts are running over each other. It seems be that there is not one large plan of what to do. It’s more small departments that are pushing their own agendas and getting this stuff to happen.

But for what it’s worth, I think that at the ground floor of where Helpouts is right now, it could be interesting. It’s unique. We have Quora where people can ask questions and answer questions, but for the most part, this is the ability for a one-to-one communication with somebody who’s is really talented in their field. At least hopefully. You hope that they are. And that brings me around to one of the first problems that I had.

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Problems

I applied to Google Helpouts almost a month ago. You apply and you wait for a response, and I didn’t get any response. So one morning last week, I woke up and went back on to Help Desk and I said, ‘Hey, I haven’t heard anything.’ I got a message back saying ‘We’d like to have a phone conversation with you to see if you qualify.’ I thought that was interesting. All they really had to do was pull up my Google Plus account or pull up my LinkedIn information. I had already submitted a lot of my data to them, but they wanted to have this conversation.

So they scheduled it, but it didn’t happen. Either they did their homework to find out what my background was or they weren’t just weren’t able to make the phone call happen because they were too busy. I don’t know. But I got an email saying ‘You’ve been approved. Go on and you can start creating your Helpouts.’ That’s when you first start to understand what this is all about and what the capacity is for all of this.

There is free and there is paid. There are free sessions that you can do and there are paid sessions that you provide. What I did was that I went into our Halyard Consulting proposal and thought about what I could extract out that I could have a 15, 20 or 30 minute conversation with somebody about. What could I do for an hour? What would that cost me? So I started looking at what the highest priced Helpout currently in Computers and Education, Business and Career Resources. And I found that it didn’t go much higher than $1 per minute, which is not that much money when you really calculate it out.

My hourly – and I don’t have a problem saying this because anybody who wants a proposal from Halyard would see this immediately – is $200 per hour. There are a lot of things that go into that. Generally, we sell packages, so you’re not at that $200 per hour type of thing. It’s really from the technical side that that number starts to come into play. But of course, my time is valuable. I have several levels of degrees. I have 20 years of experience. So it’s okay to have that hourly price.

Clearly, that wouldn’t work in Helpouts because if it’s $1 per minute, that comes to $60 for the hour. So I had to back out the number because I also didn’t want to be at the top of the range. I realized that probably the best way to do this was to segment some of the work that we do into smaller conversations, 30 minutes in one hour. And for the paid ones, the one hour turns out to be $50, which when you think about it, is really a steal.

We’re going to go through some of the sessions I created. You’ll see that we’re talking about $50 for an hour as opposed to several hundred, if not a thousand dollars, for some of the reports and such that we do at Halyard. So that’s a little bit of a negative. The hourly or the minute-by-minute isn’t really that high.

But still, I wanted to give this a chance. I wanted to see what the ground floor of this is. You never know where it could go. And I thought, I’m going to do a podcast this week and go into detail on everything that’s been created.

Sample Sessions

The first thing I did was create a free one. I called it Build Your Internet Marketing Strategy. This is generally the first conversation that we have with a potential client where we ask what their website looks like now, where do you want it to go, what’s their motivation for putting money into their website and all that. I’ll read you want we came up with. Again, this is a free 15-minute conversation. So here’s what we came up with:

Build Your Internet Marketing Strategy: If your business isn’t reaching its full online marketing potential or your competitors have made significant gains with their Internet strategy, then this session is for you. As the owner of a small business, you are often wearing many hats and putting out daily fires. This doesn’t give you the opportunity to step back and look at the business from an outside perspective. This is especially true when it comes to online marketing strategy, an area often neglected by the small business owner until it’s critically impacting sales. During this session, I’ll walk you through a series of specific strategy questions relating to your business and website. The answers you provide will help build the foundation for your Internet marketing strategy. Topics discussed: marketing your business online, reaching your demographic, defining your website’s goals, converting businesses to customers. After signing up for this session, please send me your website URL and send me messages if you don’t see a time listed that works for you.

We’ll get into the time listed thing. But it’s free. By comparison, in order to have this conversation with us, usually you would have to be a full client of Halyard. So for us, it’s a great way for a potential client to have a deeper conversation. And for the people out there who are interested in it, it’s also great for them because they’re basically getting free advice.

When we talk about the time listed, I think that’s interesting because as I’m analyzing the different sessions that are going on, it’s seems like some people open up their Google Hangouts and hang out for a while and they’re available at that moment. Other people are able to schedule specific times to do these sessions. I’m certainly not going to be sitting with a window open, so I’ll have to look at that.

It’s funny because Google won’t let you fill out everything completely. You have to step through this. You do your text information. Then you move through to the next layer, which is a photo has to uploaded. It has to be 900 pixels, which is really kind of difficult. I certainly don’t have many pictures of myself. They want you to have pictures of yourself doing things. I mean, at 900 pixels width, I’d really have to go onto istockphoto and get a really nice picture, which I’ll do. But still, it’s a little painstaking. They also want you to do a video. So after I do this podcast, I’m going to do one-minute video segments introducing each session.

Then it’s all a question of how many people have gone through the session, how many people have liked the session, how much competition there is. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of competition for what we’re actually doing right here, so I’m curious to see. Certainly, I invite all of you who are listening to go sign up with me and let’s do one of these sessions. I want to get the experience of doing this and it’s free to you for this one. Let’s move on to the next one.

Website Review Basics: Knowing how your website is doing is half the battle and the first step to correcting the problem. Many small to medium-sized businesses don’t know how or why their site isn’t generating the traffic that then leads to improved sales. This session is the first step in understanding where problems reside on your website and how to fix them. “The framing of a problem is often far more essential than its solution.” – Albert Einstein. During the session, we will discuss five key components about your website that directly relate to how it is perceived and thus read by Google and the other search engines. From this, you will be able to focus on changes that need to be implemented and begin to organize a strategy for success. Who should sign up for this? Any business owner who feels their site isn’t living up to its potential and doesn’t understand why. Topics to be discussed: domain authority, keyword indexation, social media strength, search engine visibility, site speed. After signing up for his session, please send me your website URL.

This is a 30-minute session for $25. Again, that’s really an incredible discount from what we would normally charge. We’re trying to test this out. And at some point, if this goes bananas and we’re getting a lot of clients, we could do even more free ones or we could keep the price the same. If we see that there is a lot of free information we’re divulging and we’re not turning them into clients, we’ll probably look at increasing that price to get the money on the front end. That’s just honesty. Here is another one:

Website Review Advanced: Continued from our Website Review Basics session, this advanced part provides an in-depth server and site-set up analysis, allowing for improved communication and indexation with the search engine. “You can’t fix a problem that you refuse to acknowledge.” – Margaret Heffernan, author of Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril. This session is an advanced, high-level technical discussion that will suggest implementing changes to the server and areas of a website not commonly accessed by non-IT staff. Who should sign up? It is highly recommended that an IT member of your staff be present during this conversation so they can implement changes to your site and the server. The requirement: You need to have taken Google Helpouts session Website Review Basics. Topics to be discussed: conical and duplication issues, hosting and ISP issues, dot HT access and robots dot DXT file reviews, linking domains and subdomains. It’s just that they don’t really understand what it is. That’s for them. Who should sign up for this? Any business owner who feels they can’t make an informed decision with the information provided on the analytics dashboard.

That’s 30-minute session for $25 + a $50 one-hour conversation. So the total would be $75 dollars for an hour and a half. That’s still a really good price. Here’s another one:

Analytics Review Advanced: Continuing from our Analytics Review Basics, (which is free, while this is a paid session), this advanced part provides an in-depth review of your site’s analytics. This discussion will revolve around several key components of data available in Google Analytics. We will look at your overall demographic, including age, gender, location and technology used to access your website. We will review how visitors are getting to your site, both from the search engine side and through social media, and we will additionally explore what pages are most popular and how your visitors move through the site. “Furious activity is not substitute for analytical thought.” – Alastair Pilkington. This session is an advanced, high-level analytical discussion that will provide insight into how visitors interact with your website. I recommend including any of your staff able to implement changes or enhanced conversion, like your technical or marketing staff. Who should sign up? Any business owner who wants to fully understand their visitors’ usages on their site. Requirements: Google Analytics installed and running successfully on your website previously registered for the Google Helpouts session Analytics Review Basics. Topics to be discussed: demographics, engagement, technology and traffic. After signing up for this session, send me your website URL, or with access to Analytics, alternatively we can look at the segments of analytics by sharing your screen during the session.

Of course, there is a risk in that. If you don’t know how to do that and you sign up for the session, you’re going to be wasting a lot of time. That session is $50 for one hour. Here’s another session:

Competitor Analysis: This session takes the elements from our Website Review Basics session and identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (in the MBA world, we call this a swat analysis) of your site against three of your competitors. “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along with it.” – Walt Disney. This session will provide you with strategic knowledge against your competitors. It will help lay foundation for improvements in your site and in your marketing plan. Who should sign up? Any business owner whose competition is beating them in the search engines. Requirements: Provide us with five competitor websites. We will select the top three competitors for the session. We’ll look at domain authority, keyword indexation, site speed, social media, search indexation. After signing up for this session, please send me your website URL along with five additional competitors.

This is a one-hour session for $50. After this report is in binding and all that, we’ll go over it verbally for the hour. The full-scale thing is $2,000 from us, so you’re getting very, very similar detailed information for $50 in this one-hour session. Then we have the Information Architecture Review session.

Information Architecture Review:  Your website flow of navigation is critical to its success and is often difficult to truly comprehend until viewed on a 2D plane. An intuitive and fluid navigation will your site visitors with a well thought-out, visually organized framework leading to improved visitor conversions. “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. “- Douglas Adams, author of Mostly Harmless. This session discusses the layout of your website from a navigational viewpoint. The participant will receive several recommendations on how to make improved information flow leading to visitors completing actions on your site. Who should sign up? I highly recommend that a design or marketing member of our staff be present during this conversation so they can lead and implement the recommended changes to your site. Topics to be discussed: navigational layout, architectural design, visitor conversions.

Understand that in the information architecture, we’re actually building out a to-be on paper view of what your site looks like – how the navigation is and where all the information meta user would come in. We did have to limit the number of pages we look at. Obviously, people can come to the session with tens of thousands of pages, but that’s where the number goes to the 2,000 range reports. So we had to limit it to 20 pages or less. So of you have a website that is tens or thousands of pages, we’re not going to do it in an hour, but we could do the top-level navigation, which is the top 20 pages. That’s pretty fair.

This is a one-hour session for $50. For all the $50 session, it’s 83 cents per minute, so that’s kind of interesting. Here’s another session

Design Review:  Good design not only seeks to inspire and engage users, but should communicate meaning and responsibility. Design is fundamental to providing a great user experience. It should seek to inspire and engage, as well as communicate. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs. This session critiques the design of your website as a fundamental part of your brand marketing. The discussion will focus on color usage, action positioning and overall appeal. Who should sign up? I highly recommend that a design or marketing member of your staff be present during this conversation so that they can lead and implement the recommended changes to your site. Requirements: Review is limited to homepage navigation and points of action. Topics to be discussed: Primary motivation of visitors is identified, user experience, navigation visibility and accessibility and action conversions.

We had to limit the review to homepage navigation and points of action because this review normally costs a lot through us. This is a one-hour session for $50. For $50, you’re going to get just a preliminary understanding of what we believe the design flaws may be.

That’s all the sessions. We’ve got 8 sessions. Two of them are free. The rest of them cost money, but still very cheap by comparison. We’ve doing work on the backend before we actually do this review, so we’ve spent a lot of time on the research.

Frustrations

Let’s get back into the Google Helpouts review. I guess because I had a Goggle Marketplace account, when I tried to connect the Google Wallet to the Google Helpouts, there’s an in-between for those people who previously years ago signed up for a Google Marketplace. There seems to be a wall or blockade between Google Helpouts and Google Wallet for people who previously signed up for a Goggle Marketplace. So that’s rather frustrating because I don’t want to spend hours and hours setting this up. I wrote these. I’m doing the design for them. I need to do the video for them. But I’m now stuck in a blockade.

Google knows what the issue is. I’ve contacted them and they understand where the tie-together is happening and where the problems are. But they still require 3 to 5 days for the process of removing that Goggle Marketplace so that the Helpouts and Wallet can connect.  So what are you going to do? I figured I would do the podcast now because it takes a while to get traction and everything. And by the time the week rolled out, we’d be able to start promoting it and getting some customers in there. I’d really like for all of you to try it out.

I’m checking to see if I’ve missed anything. It’s funny because when you talk to Matt Cutts or anyone on Goggle’s optimization team or the spam alerts team, they’re always trying to tell you not to do these long numbers and not to use pluses and all these parameters. Then you look at how Goggle Helpouts is set up and that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re doing numbers. They’re doing question marks and GCLID equaled. The URL is just a mess, so I can’t even send you helpouts.google.com/jonathangoodman.

Once these go live, I’m not sure what to tell you. Let me see if I can take this string out and if it still works. It seems to work. So then the URL is helpouts.googles.com/102650725037936212543. That’s what happens when a company is run by engineering and it’s not run by marketing. I’m curious to see when I look at my Google Plus page. No, of course not because that was switched over to +JonathanGoodman. So there is no correlation to that number whatsoever. I don’t know.

Google Helpouts is in beta. I think it’s going to wind up staying in beta for a long time. And who knows with these things. Google turns off and turns things on so frequently. But I thought it was a good thing to do. I wanted to test it out. For the free stuff, I’ll spend the time and meet people and explain to them what I do. So I think that’s all good. But overall, I think it still has its training wheels on and I think Goggle would probably say that to you as well.

When we look at the Browse the Help section, that’s another issue that they really need to fix. Their categorizations are Art and Music, Computers and Electronics, Cooking, Education and Careers, Fashion and Beauty, Fitness and Nutrition, Health and Home and Garden. It might not be apparent to you, but it was quickly apparent to me that what I’m actually providing is counseling for business and that doesn’t really fit anywhere. Computers and Electronics tends to be more ‘I’ll fix your WordPress’ or ‘I’ll fix your computer.’ It doesn’t really go into the analytical side of data. Then you think that maybe it’s in Education and Careers.

If I go into Electronics, what comes up? YouTube Strategies and Partner Tips, WordPress Programming and Development, How to Choose a Security Camera System. If I go into Education and Careers, we’ve got Learn English Helpout, Learn More Effectively by Taking Better Notes, Learn Spanish with a Qualified Native Leader. There should be an in-between there that’s about business counseling. I’m sure they’ll expand some of these. Fitness and Nutrition right now is 15-Minute Cardio Workout, Martial Arts and Self Defense with Hendricks, Personal Training and Fitness Training with Amanda.

They’re fun, but if Google really wants to go that next level of real significant experts, the pricing will have to change. The people who are coming in and actually utilizing the Helpouts sessions beyond the free ones still will have to change and they’re probably going to have to have more categories.

They offer a 100% money back guarantee. What that means on my side is that my sessions get videotaped, so that if there is a problem, Google can go in and review the tape to see what is going on. What’s interesting is that I’ve been reading some of the reviews from people who are doing Helpouts and there seems to be a lot of fake signups. So in order for me to prevent that, you do have an option when you’re doing the paid versions to request a refund.

They actually call that their Cancellation Policy. I have 24 hours and then fees apply. I believe the fees are half of the cost. The Cancellation policy reads: “For a fixed price Helpout, customers will be charged 50% of the session price.” So if you schedule something, which would mean it’s actually paid, and you don’t show up to it or cancel in less than 24 hours, I’d get $25. I still don’t know if that’s worth my time because I spent all the time getting ready for you, but we’ll see.

I’m certainly not complaining. It’s very interesting. I just think it’s a little bit of a bumpy road that they’re on right now. Either they’ll put time and effort into it, or they won’t. I don’t want this podcast to be that long. We’ve got a great interview coming up on Friday. I want to finish this up and get it ready for you hopefully for Friday. So we’ll go ahead and end this broadcast.

Outro

Again, this is Jonathan Goodman. Thank you all for listening to another episode of The World of Internet Marketing. You can follow me @HalyardConsult on Twitter. New episodes of the World of Internet Marketing can be heard every Friday. You can access the archives of my previous shows on Spreaker.com – user name Jonathan Goodman. The podcast is also available with transcription at halyardconsulting.com and geekcast.fm one week after the episode airs. Don’t forget to pick up my book The World of Internet Marketing on Amazon, and if you like this podcast please share it with your network of friends and family.

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