This morning there is a link in the Google My Business Guidelines that is all about working with 3rd parties. This page lists all of Google’s recommendations on how to know your are picking a good/reputable Local SEO company.
Here are a few of the items that I found especially helpful for business owners to take note of:
- Google admits that hiring an SEO company can add value to your business:
While Google My Business is free, third-parties often charge a fee to manage your listing. They can provide valuable services like keeping your listing up-to-date, providing you with customer insights, answering your questions, and responding to reviews.Yes, Google My Business is free and you would only want to hire an SEO company if they can add value to the way the listing appears by either trying to increase it’s ranking or overall presence. This should be measurable since ranking, activity on the listing, and activity to your website should increase as a result.
- Google suggests only working with one Local SEO company at a time. This is huge as I’ve often heard business owners think they get some type of benefit by hiring multiple vendors to work on the same listing. In the end it generally does more harm than good.
You may be tempted to divide your budget among multiple third-parties to see which one drives the best results, but keep in mind that it’s best to test them one at a time. Your business can only appear once on Google, so it’s difficult to test multiple third-parties at once.
- Google warns against companies that guarantee placement on Google. I honestly can’t believe this is still a problem in 2016 but unfortunately I still regularly run across companies that offer these types of “guarantees”.
It is not possible for third-parties to influence the order in which your business appears on Google Search or Maps.
- Google warns against people who claim to work for Google. We still see this as an issue all the time in the forums – businesses are convinced that Google is calling them and asking them to pay for some type of SEO service. Google offers some great advice to combat this – ask the person on the phone to email from their Google email address. I’m definitely using this strategy next time I hear about one of these.
If a third-party representative claims to be employed by Google, ask for their name and request that they email you from their @google.com (not @gmail.com) email address.
- Google warns against companies that threaten to remove your business from Google. This is still a very common myth in the Local SEO space. You cannot remove a listing from Google unless the business no longer exists. Removing a listing from the Google My Business dashboard simply unverifies it. What most businesses fail to realize is they do give a company permission to edit their listing when they give them access to the Google My Business account. It’s imperative that the SEO company makes the business owner the owner of the listing and not just a manager.
Third-parties can’t remove your business from Google or access your listing without your explicit permission.
Is there anything you think Google missed in the article? Check out the full Help Center article here.