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The Sharpest Tool™

Google Part 1 | Becoming a Trusted Business Online

Tatiana Schafer, Strategic Partnerships Manager for Google, and Vanessa Villa, LSA Manager for Scorpion, discuss how Google Partners and home services businesses can work together to achieve results.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the sharpest tool where we take the sting out of marketing. My name is Josh Smith. I am your host, and I'm thrilled today to welcome to the podcast, Tatiana Schaefer of Google, a company that you've probably heard of, and we're no stranger to in the internet marketing world. Tatiana is a strategic partnerships manager. She's here with us to discuss Google local service ads and how they can be major drivers of success for home service businesses. And we also have our very own Vanessa Vela, who is our LSA manager here at scorpion Tatiana, Vanessa, welcome to the sharpest tool podcast. Yeah, of course. It's so good to have you here. I'm excited be in the virtual booth as we call it here. So tell us a little bit about working at Google Tatiana. I know Google is this wonderful mystified company that a lot of people look at it. It's like, oh, you know, it's like come down from the heavens to us here in the working world. So give us a little bit of peek behind the curtain and how you got into strategic partnerships over a Google.

Tatiana Schafer (00:57):

Yeah, absolutely. I've been at Google for a little over three years. And before that I spent 10 years in tech and media as an investor, as an operator received my MBA from Harvard. And then after working at a lot of different startups in Silicon valley wanted to really pivot to a bigger company. I noticed that many of my peers were choosing Google as the place to grow their careers. And personally, I believe that life is really all about the people, the relationships that you build with them. And I personally was fortunate to connect with a business school classmate about our opportunity and partnerships at Google and right on that call with her. I knew it would be the right next opportunity for me. And I still giving you a little peek behind the curtain. I remember as a Noogler coming in and a Noogler is actually a term. We used smear for a new Google area. And my first week we got to attend TGI AF, um, which is an in-person meeting for all of Google employees. And we as Nooglers get to wear our Noogler helicopter caps, and this was held at the headquarters in mountain view, and I'll never forget seeing Larry and Sergei our founders speaking just a few feet away from me. Amazing.

Josh Smith (02:16):

That's awesome. We need like that word for scorpion. Would it be like a schooler? I love that I knew glare. So tell us a little bit Tatiana about your day-to-day responsibilities. What does it look like on the strategic partnership side?

Tatiana Schafer (02:30):

Yeah, I work with a lot of different types of Google partners, agencies, tech platforms, across various verticals and specialties. And really my goal is to bring the best of Google, the magic of Google to our trusted partners. And as you can imagine, I'm sure you hear this a lot, but no day is exactly the same. So some days, for example, I'm speaking at an event like a podcast that we are on today, but mostly I really enjoy meeting with the leadership teams to really understand how we can best work together and how I can bring specialized unique Google offerings, products, opportunities to really help our partners get the best of Google and ultimately helps small businesses need therapy, business and marketing goals. And on a professional level for me, I really strive to be a thought leader in the space and help our partners be at the forefront of everything, which today is all about how to make machine learning work for you. Um, and really how to be set up and evolving, changing privacy landscape.

Josh Smith (03:33):

Oh yeah. Big, big topic there, especially with everything that's been going on over the past 12 months or broad broadside ever since COVID started really right. A lot of big topics to dive into their machine learning. It's such a powerful piece and powerful tool for people to be thinking about looking into. And I know y'all are always on the forefront of technology advances like that. I want to dive into a few different aspects. I want to throw a question over to Vanessa here specifically regarding this, the premier partnership, the partnership that scorpion has with Google. I know there's a lot of different benefits that companies like scorpion have in being able to partner with such a powerhouse such as Google Vanessa or a premier partner. Tell us a little bit about the premier partnership aspect with scorpion in Google.

Vanessa Villa (04:15):

Yeah. So partners are really important to the laws. There are so many things that you need to know about when it comes to your marketing strategy. Online consumers are always being curious, demanding, and patient unintended everywhere. So for Google, they see so many signals around their many platforms, seven or so. So time is a precious commodity and not everybody has it. We're always go, go, go. So desire. Most of you didn't start your business, trying to spend the majority of time doing digital marketing. So agencies are always a good way to get that done for you. Knowledge, knowledge is power, not having the knowledge can cost you a lot of your money, pause and think, can you answer, how are you going to automate or optimize your marketing investment? How are you testing and iterating? How are you kind of evolving with the market and your objectives? And are you meeting those resources are so many tools that you can use to self serve and all those other kinds of Google trends and those kinds of resources that you have at your own hands. But sometimes it's hard to make sense of all of it. So that's where, who our partners kind of come into play. It's great to have a partnership that helps us ensure everyone is working together diligently and helping, you know, businesses grow with, uh, with those kinds of trends and changes.

Josh Smith (05:22):

I love that. You know, I remember when, back in the day when we had, uh, we first started engaging in conversations with becoming a Google partner, this is years ago, and it was always based around this, this performance excellence, right? Being able to be a best in class agency and, you know, reserving that premier partnership. And I remember when internally we had, one of our leaders was like, you know what, we're going to go do that. This is what we're going to do. We're going to set out to achieve this level of partnership. And then we went and we did it. And that's just one of the cool parts where the coolest successes that we see with being able to be a small mobile agency. But I think to your point for this, there are so many benefits. I like to call it the red phone into Google, right?

Josh Smith (05:59):

It's like we have that level of a connection where we're able to be on the forefront of all the technology advances take advantage of things before they really hit the market and mainstream. And so there's a lot of power to be able to offer to small, medium sized businesses, to be able to bring even more power into their marketing toolkit. So in terms of becoming a premier partner, it's not an easy process. And I think some people might think, oh, you just, you know, let's go call Google and become a partner. It's really not an easy process. Tell me a little bit about what's involved in becoming a premier partner and how that really benefits our call.

Tatiana Schafer (06:30):

Yeah. I can jump into that. And I'll also say that the VIP red carpet experience is what I call the partnership program. So it's a great, great place to be from a Google perspective, our partners are leading companies recognized for having the advanced Google ad skills expertise, just as you said to optimize campaigns and get you the results that you want. And our program also is constantly changing. And so this year specifically, I'm excited to share that we are launching updated requirements and benefits with a brand new 20, 21 Google partner program in batch. And it's actually rolling out now. Um, so in, in the coming weeks, so to give you a little bit of a sneak peek of what this is about, um, we've upgraded the program to bring a lot more transparency, exclusivity and visibility to you as a small business, when you're choosing a partner and this brand new partner badge has more advanced requirements for performance first and foremost.

Tatiana Schafer (07:32):

So as an example, the current badge only requires one user to be certified for Google ads, um, or to be a badge partner and be will as requiring that 50% of the account strategists at an agency need to be certified across all Google products being offered. So that's a lot more strips. It's a lot of testing. And as another example, we're requiring a minimum 70% optimization score as a benchmark for your campaign performance and going forward, come February, 2022, looking out Google, we'll be selecting the top 3%, only top 3%, the cream of the crop of partners to receive the premier badge. And most importantly, as I mentioned, we constantly want to thrive to do better. We will be evaluating partners on an ongoing basis to make sure that they continue meeting the requirements, as opposed to just how you have this badge. And now it's yours forever to keep no matter what happens. And kind of going back to your question in the beginning, Josh, about the day-to-day and what it's like to, to do my job. I've been working very closely with scorpion, specifically their leadership team, really, to ensure that we're not just meeting all of these structure elements that I mentioned, but that we're exceeding

Josh Smith (08:50):

Love that. And we're doing a good job, right? I just put you on the spot. Yes, yes. There it is. You heard it here. So there's a big thing. That's come out in the market over the past couple of years and it's been constantly innovated and that is a hot topic across the board. And that's the Google local service ads or LSAs or if we want to date ourselves a little bit, we'll call it the HSHS. Right. I remember those days. Um, so let's talk about LSAs and what we'll get through. I think a piece of this, and then I want to dive into in a follow-up episode a little bit more about some specifics on LSAs, but first off, give us a brief overview of the history and the background of search and how that kind of led us into the LSA world.

Tatiana Schafer (09:35):

Big question. So I'll try to answer very succinct place. Yes. One thing about Google and technology of our all is that changes the only constant we have. So succinctly we went from organic search results to paid search to now local services ads, which were actually launched back in 2015, just for verticals to now more than five years later, LSAs for short have really become a staple. So that's the history of search for UN 37.

Josh Smith (10:05):

I love that. The, uh, now let's talk about LSA specifically what our LSA is. Exactly.

Tatiana Schafer (10:10):

Yeah. LSA is make it easy for you as a local provider to connect with people who search on Google for the services that you offer. It is a lead generation based product charged on a cost per lead CPL. For short, you can advertise your services, get leads in the area that you choose all while tracking performance and staying in control of bookings. So customers searching for your services can see business information, read reviews, get in touch all directly with a map. And I always highlight it's important to keep in mind that LSAs are not a replacement for Google ads. They work in combination with your PPC as a complimentary ad product. So it's really important to consider your strategy overall. And again, that's where partners such as score band come in to really help you think through that.

Josh Smith (10:56):

I love that now. Why do they matter specifically? Let's tie it to home services for home service professionals, HVAC, plumbing, contractors, electricians, why are they so important

Tatiana Schafer (11:06):

Match made and have it? So it's like the best product out there. I think some of the more important ones are one you show up on search local services, ads appear above Google search results so that the ads are more likely to stand out. Um, the ad placement features two to three providers on top of Google's search engine results, page SERP for short, you also only pay for the results that you get. You pay only for the leads related to your businesses and the services that you're offering. You're getting leads and you're booking your local jobs and you can connect with potential customers who are searching for your services. Again, giving you the leads, who are also more likely to book. And then last but not least, I like to say that you can pause your ads at any time, giving you even more opportunity to manage your workload you're spending, which of course for a small business is very important.

Josh Smith (11:56):

Yeah. Awesome. So some important key factors, I think when it comes to LSAs, um, there's, there's obviously how it performs, how it operate, how you set it up once you get it up and running and then the different continuous factors that feed how they perform. And I know one of the strong distinctions that we see from an agency perspective between LSAs and, uh, ad-words specifically are paid search, typical paid search advertising is the level of control that you have obviously with paid search. There's more control. There's more projections you can have versus how Google has intended the local services ads to operate. So when it comes to local service ads, what are some of the important things that business owners should know about? LSAs

Tatiana Schafer (12:36):

Yeah, I'll highlight again, you only pay for the leads related to your business or the services you offer. So pricing in this case is based on a cost per lead with two options, either set max per lead or maximize leads. And the right bid really will vary based on the competitiveness of each local market. And of course the more saturated markets, it may be more difficult to guarantee a certain volume of leads. Since many providers are out there bidding the max that they can. And personally, I think that it's both an advantage and a limitation because we're really trying to keep this product. LSA is very SMB friendly, but Yon this, I think it's important to also highlight that there is an algorithm, right? It's Google.

Tatiana Schafer (13:19):

So I'll demystify as much as I can, kind of what really goes into it as it is a question that I personally get a lot, they're all items that we always highlight. The first is your a verification status. And whether you obtained a Google badge of trust, your review score, and the number of reviews that you have, which is something that as a provider, you can manage your responsiveness to customer inquiries or busts. So respond to many phone calls and requests as you can, of course your business hours, your information, um, whether or not we've received any serious or repeated complaints about your business. And as I said, these are all things that you can manage more than go into the algorithm of where you show up. And then there are a few things that you don't have as much ability to manage. The first is actually the context of the person search and what they're really looking for, which includes everything from the actual search terms to the time of day. Um, thinking about all the factors that go into this, for example, you might have all of the items that I mentioned above, but you may not be ranking as high as you want to because the person is searching for a specific job type that you don't offer within your category. And then secondly, it's your proximity to the potential customers, locations, maybe providers that are closer, or we can hire

Josh Smith (14:33):

Yeah, awesome takeaways and just get things for business owners to focus on in general. Cause they always feed the customer experience and it's ultimately all the things that I've always found to be true about Google and everything that you guys roll out is it's always based on the best experience for the searcher and the customer as a whole. So having that trust factor with the businesses that we're referring through the local service ads is a powerful piece. So making sure you're a trusted business is powerful. So last piece, I want to kind of tie this up with a nice bow is that wonderful Google guaranteed badge that everybody wants to take from the LSAs and slap on their website. Explain that to me, the Google guarantee badge, what is it and how does it function? How do you get it? When does it remove itself?

Tatiana Schafer (15:14):

Yeah, I just mentioned it actually. So it's a great, great follow-up question. Um, put simply a Google badge of trust, lets your customers know that your business is trustworthy, has been vetted by Google. So in other words, satisfaction's backed by Google since you've passed Google screening and qualifications and for professional services verticals like, wow, there's also a Google screen badge and stuff.

Vanessa Villa (15:39):

Uh, yeah. So I mean the Google guarantee badge, like you said, it's like a nice little stamp that Google gives you when you've done all the qualifications and gone through and make sure that you're a legit business and you know, things like that. So it definitely sets you apart from all the rest of like the ads that you see, there's nothing that is backed by a Google guarantee. So this is definitely something that separates you or at least the listing that you have from those that you might see on the, on the original third page of engine pages though, it's actually very, very nice for those providers that have it.

Josh Smith (16:10):

Awesome. Well, this has been super helpful, super insightful, always a pleasure to have you Vanessa, on the sharpest tool podcast and Tatiana, it is great to have you on for your first episode. We're going to do a round two where we dive deeper into LSAs. So I hope you at home will stick around or if you're in your truck, you'll stick around for round two. It's coming out. Tatiana, Vanessa, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it for everybody listening, wherever you might be listening at. Definitely hit that like button to give that subscribe button a nice little tap so you can continue to get more of this awesome content. And from all of us here at the sharpest tool, we'll talk to you soon.

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