On first glance, it would seem that chair renters and booth renters aren’t allowed to have their own Google+ Business Pages.
In this episode we take a look at Google’s eligibility criteria and show that, with very few exceptions, independent contractors are indeed eligible for their own business page.
So let me get this out of the way. I’m sorry, for missing the last couple weeks. It happens. I have no idea how all these other podcasters who podcast and run a business, where podcasting isn’t their business, how they do it when it gets busy.
I’m a one-man gang around here. I do have some folks that help me get a few things done. But for the most part, I do most of the heavy lifting, myself.
When it gets a little hairy, something’s got to give. Well, in this case, it’s always the podcast.
The Plan Going Forward
I tell you what I’m going to do, just as an etiquette piece going forward. There are going to be times in the future where I’m just going to have to miss. Sometimes I don’t know it until Sunday evening when it’s just not coming together. When I’m starting to mash stuff together and the episode is just sounding like poo.
I just can’t do that to you. When I get to that situation, I’m simply going to put a placeholder in and tell you, “Hey! Sorry, dog. I can’t do it.”
In the future I’ll throw something in the feed if only to let you know that I’m still here. I’m just a little busy offline.
I will do that because it’s an etiquette piece and I got to respect your time. If you’re listening for me, I want to make sure that you know that I do appreciate you. As I used to say back in the day and I usually mention about this time, you could be throwing your attention anywhere in the world right now. Anywhere at all but you’re throwing it at me. You know I appreciate it. In the future, I’ll do a better job of not abusing the privilege.
The Supporting Cast
It wasn’t his fault. I just like poking fun at him because he’s one of my long time listeners.
These are the folks that keep me straight from time to time and besides, it’s fun.
Aside from Eric up there in the Minneapolis area, I’ve got Niza down in Phoenix and Monica out in Chico, California.
I’ve got peeps all over the place.
Whenever I throw something out there, every now and then they reach out and try and get me right so that I can do right by you. I do appreciate them, definitely.
If you’re a short time listener, stick around. I might say something that you find interesting.
I may say something that you want to comment on. If that be the case, well, you know how to get ahold of me. Sherpa@ihelpsalons.com. Let’s conversate. We will have a good old time.
The Soup du Jour
All right. The question from Eric that got me to push calls to action, clean off the plate this week has to do with who is eligible for a Google+ Local Page.
Specifically, are chair renters eligible for a Google+ Local Page? Now, when you sent me the question, I immediately started thinking.
“Hey! Before I even check, it’s too important. Whether you’re actually eligible or not, go get one.
I’m not sure whether or not you really fully understand. If you don’t, let me take some time to make sure that you’re fully conversed in the power of a Google+ business page and why it’s a no-brainer to have one.
5 Things a Google+ Business Page Can Do
When it comes to being found online by folks who don’t know you, not having a Google+ business page, don’t do it. Oh, my goodness. Let me just run down a handful of the things. Five things that I could think of off the top of my head without even working too hard as to what a Google+ business page does for you.
It Puts You On the Map!
The first thing that jumps into my head and this is the biggie, is it puts you on the map. Google’s map. Now, you’re on the map anyway because just like every other directory site, if you exist and someone somehow categorizes you, you’ll have a listing on there.
It’s just going to be a little dot and it’s just going to have an address or something like that. Nothing major. If you have a Google+ business page, suddenly when someone looks you up on the map, not only does it show a little spot, it has the name of your business. Greater amongst equals. When it comes to marketing, you can’t go wrong with that.
The Google 7-Pack
In addition to being on the map, getting a Google+ page is how you get into the Google 7-pack. If you’re not quite sure what the Google 7-pack is, let me school you. If you’re on a desktop and you type in any kind of generic search that’s location-based, i.e. you type in “hair salon”, you type in “esthetician”, you type in “nails” and then you put the town next to it … For instance, “hair salon Las Vegas.” What you’re going to get in the Google results page is a page that at the time, you have 7 businesses right next to the map and the little depiction of where those businesses happen to be on the map. Those 7 businesses are the Google 7-pack. That space is prime real estate. It shows up above the Google organic search. A lot of people don’t even make it to the organic search. They stop at the Google 7-pack and just start clicking there.
If you’re in the Google 7-pack and you’re in organic search, man, that’s a double whammy on the front page. We’re done talking about organic. We’re still just talking about the Google 7-pack. That’s high visibility on the first page of a search on Google. Since Google is still the 800 pound gorilla in the corner when it comes to search, you’d be silly not to be there or be given a shot to be there. To get into the 7-pack, that takes a little bit of elbow grease. It can be done. Google has some criteria as to how you get in there and they’re not sharing it. With a little bit of ingenuity and some stick-to-it-tivety, you can get into the 7-pack, especially if you know somebody. By the way, if you know any sherpas out there, you know somebody. I think we call that a plug. We already said that the 7-pack, the map, 2 benefits of having a Google+ page.
In addition to that, your Google+ page is where you hang Google reviews. Now, you know I feel some kind of way about Yelp, right?
Well, the other bunch of folks who do review so that if you don’t want to use Yelp is Google. Google+. That’s right. Lets put it this way. Yelp is for Yelpers.
Just about everyone has a Google account, a Gmail account. If you don’t, it’s so easy to get one. More importantly, if you go to Whitespark.ca, which is one of my favorite places to send people, you actually can get a handout that generates a how-to-leave-me-a-review thing, that’s geared towards Google+. There’s too much goodness there. There’s too much goodness there. That’s 3 things right off the bat. One, you got the reviews. Two, you got the 7-pack. Three, better visibility in the Google map itself.
Google Mobile Optimized Webpage
Did I mention the webpage that you get? You do. It’s this really cool page that shows up on your cellphone. Now, you know that most searches that happen on Google nowadays are mobile searches. People on the move, looking around.
Oh, by the way, let me backtrack a little bit. I mentioned just a few seconds ago, that you getting a Google 7-pack on the desktop. I didn’t even mention what it looks like on the mobile. When you’re doing that same generic search, hair salon/Las Vegas or whatever town you live in and you look at it on your mobile device, it’s even more prominent of who you are.
You get to see all that wonderfulness right then and there. Right in front of you before you even get to the organic stuff. It’s about visibility. It’s about visibility. I don’t want to start that rant because I’m planning on ranting about that just a little bit later.
It’s just too ridiculously opportunistic to not set yourself up to be in the running here. The fact that your presence on the Google 7-pack is so big that you show up on the map and the way you show up on the map, the fact that all of a sudden, now you have a place to put Google reviews. Because some people aren’t into Yelp.
I know every now and then you get a little upset about Yelp reviews disappearing or being hidden or something like that.
You get your own special webpage. Have you ever looked at it? If you haven’t looked at it, look at it now. Well, not now. Listen to me now. When you get a chance, take a look at it. It shows where you happen to be on the map. It shows your phone number. It shows your hours. It’s even got a click-to-call so folks can get ahold of you. When I say the hours, it’ll say, “Open now” or “Closed now” depending on what your hours are. It’s just too darn handy. Wow. I’ll tell you what. They don’t even pay me and I’m definitely pumping this up. Then again, I’m not really selling them. I’m selling why you should be doing this.
The Local Search Ranking Factors
There’s one other thing that’s kind of important as to why you need to have a Google+ page. That’s a little small thing called a local search ranking factors.
The folks over Moz, they crank that puppy out every year. All the search poindexters, the folks who’ve specialized in search all year long, get together and compare ou seen? What things work? What things don’t work? One of the things that does work, has worked and will work is local citations. Specifically, structured local citations.
I’m going to make the assumption that chances are, you’re showing up in different directories other than Google. Well, if you don’t have a Google+ page and you’re showing up in a bunch of different places then you’re missing out on the biggest most important structured citation of all. That would be Google itself. I’m not even going to get into the social side of the house. I’m just not. That’s a whole other ballgame.
Because of its impact on search, you having that page, just search itself, where you’ll show up in the organic search results, because of your visibility being enhanced in the Google 7-pack, on the map itself, because you can all of a sudden receive Google reviews, because all that goodness, it’s a no-brainer why you should have a Google+ page. Whether you actually think you’re supposed to have one, world according to Sherpa, woe be unto you if you are a stylistic and you looked at what Google says is eligible to ineligibles that said, “No, no. I guess I am just not eligible. I shall go do something else.” Now, I know that’s an exaggeration but that better not be the case. If you’re a stylistic and you look in the mirror, that’s your whole staff, you know that cliché I love throwing out there. You’re the smallest business in the world. You’re an army of one. You’re competing with every other salon, every other stylistic in your area. You better go get yourself a Google+ page.
If you’re hesitating even just a little bit and you’re thinking, “Maybe not,” let us say that this ought to be one of those situations where it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission. Besides, Google is a business. They didn’t throw those guidelines up there just to throw a turd in your pool. They threw those guidelines up there because they’re trying to manage their product. You remember how our conversation about Google, you’re either product or you’re customer. The easiest way to figure out which of those 2 you are, are you paying them money? If you’re not paying them money, guess what. You’re product. They’re just trying to manage the product. They’re trying to do a thing. They want their product to look a certain way. I know it’s hard because I do the same thing. In our role as their product, it’s not that hard to meet their requirements for being able to get this Google+ page. Lets take a look at their eligibility criteria and find out who gets one and who doesn’t get one.
Now, if you go to the Google My Business help page, if you take a look at the basic guidelines, this says, “Eligible businesses. In order to qualify for a local Google+ page, a business must make in person contact with customers during its stated hours. Keep thinking of that in terms of us being their product. Their product is what’s on the map. They’re trying to be ridiculously useful even though we get some benefit out of the things that they’re doing, they’re not doing it for us. They’re doing it for them because they want folks on their platform instead of on Yahoo!’s platform, Bing’s platform or on Rubber Duck platform or whoever else is out there. It’s in their best interest to make sure that if you’re on the map, you’re an actual physical business. That is, you’re not an internet business and those hours aren’t fake hours.
Whether you’re open 5 days a week, or just 2 days a week, it doesn’t matter as long as during the hours that you say that you’re open, someone can walk through the door, talk to you, sit in the chair. That’s really what Google is looking for. Think about that. Does that describe you? Does that describe your situation? Now, I know there’s some of you out there. I don’t know why this is, who are a little slow on the getting into the salon on those days where you don’t necessarily have someone lined up. That would be a problem but that’s a you thing on how efficient you are at business or whether or not you really enjoy going out of business. That’s a you thing. The point is, can someone come though the door, come to an address, go through the door and see you in your business at a certain time? If the answer is yes, then you meet the eligible businesses criteria.
Now, where it gets interesting is when we start talking about the ineligible businesses. Now, there’s 3 criteria. The first 2, they really don’t matter. They’re negligible and they definitely don’t apply. It’s that third one that gives people a little mental constipation. Lets take a look at that. It says, “For ineligible businesses, an ongoing service, class or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent.” It says, further, “please coordinate with your host to have your information displayed on the page for their business within their introduction field.” Now, the part that gives people pause is the part that says, you don’t own or don’t have the authority to represent. Me, personally, I have no issue with that whatsoever. Because first of all, most salon owners don’t own the building, do they? No. They’re usually renting from somebody or leasing from somebody or something like that. It’s theirs to control but okay, got it.
Then, it just comes down to the spaces within. Well, if you’re in any kind of a mall, again, it’s the same situation. You have the same address but you’re in Suite this, Suite that, Suite whatever, etc. Most mega salons or salons with booth renters especially, here’s where chair renters run into a little issue. We got a couple mega salons here in the Valley, Las Vegas. They’ll have a suite that has several different rooms that aren’t numbered or anything. That kind of gives the folks over at Google a little anxiety. For instance, you’ll have Suite 190. In with Suite 190, there’ll be 7 different rooms. None of which have any numbers on them or anything like that. That’s just the way that particular salon has to be set up. Well, it doesn’t take anything to simply designate Suite 190a, Suite190b, Suite 190c, etc. Then, you’ve satisfied that question so that when someone wants to find your location, they can. Well, if you’re in a salon that has chairs that are laid out, it’s just a matter of identifying which chair is which.
Now, do you really have to sit there and break out the masking tape and put it on the floor? Probably not. However, it doesn’t take all kinds of acrobatics to simply designate and say, “This is my space.” When you put your location up there, you’ll be good to go. It’s as simple as that. Make sure that you can identify where you happen to be so if someone walks through the door, they can find your space. So that you’re differentiated from the people to your left and right. I’m told and I have read that every now and then, the folks at Google make a manual check. I am as skeptical as you can possibly be. I will put it this way, if you’re coming to Vegas, I’m willing to bet that manual check is not what you’re here for. Chances are, they’re not going out to Pocatello, Idaho or someplace like that just to do a manual check. I could be wrong but it doesn’t matter.
Identify your location down to a gnat’s behind and you should be fine. That’s what I’m saying. Okay. Now, the other part of that ineligible business thing says that you don’t have the authority to represent the building. Well, if your business is Hair by Tanya, Nails by Cynthia, Skin by Colette, you’re not representing the salon. You’re representing your business. If you’re taking care of your own book, in charge of your own hours, in charge of all of your marketing and none of your marketing is for the salon, it’s for your business, then you’re right there in the wheel house. You are what we’re talking about. Then, it’s just a case of understanding what you as a product mean to Google. You’re in a physical location and a physical time and people can get to you. That’s it in a nutshell. Now, I mentioned that there are some chair renters that I can think of where this doesn’t apply.
We’ve got at least one salon that I know of here in the Valley, that they are set up slightly differently. Even though there are independents in the building, they still act, look, smell and taste like commissioned hair stylists. It’s kind of weird. I don’t understand it but I know it exists. As long as I know that exists that just tells me that there’s so many different configurations of the salon owner to independent relationship. Just take a look at understanding what Google is looking for in your business. That you’re not representing the salon. There are some arrangements where an independent can’t hang out their own shingle. When you go into that salon, you’re going into that salon. That’s what you’re going in for, regardless of who’s chair you sit in. There are some situations that are like that. Maybe you can come and go as you please, sit in when you want to or something like that but you can’t advertise for yourself.
Okay, well, if that’s the case then you’re in that 1% that it doesn’t matter to you anyway because you put yourself in that situation. Maybe there’s some fringes that you’re getting from the salon owner that the trade off for you not being able to get a Google+ page. Hey, I’m not judging because I don’t know. You do what you do and make sure it makes sense for you. You look at the pros and cons and you just let your better judgement be your guide. For the vast majority of folks out there who are standing behind the chair. As long as you’re representing yourself, you’re running your own business, the building is not the major consideration. It’s how you’re running your business and can someone come in off the street and get to you and sit in your chair directly? I think that’s the biggest thing you need to pay attention to.
One last thing before I roll out of here because I’m rolling long right now as I can see, is when you’re getting a Google+ page, one of the things that shows up as kind of a roadblock is verification. Now, Google. Has 3 ways of verifying. The most popular and the one they use the most is a postcard verification. Lot of times, if you’re occupying somebody else’s space, you’re not allowed to get mail. If you can’t get mail, how are you going to do the verification? Well, there is automatic verification that’s kind of like a unicorn wearing tights that I’ve heard about. You’ll never see it so don’t worry about it. I’ve also heard about phone verification and such like that. Okay, you’re going to end up doing that because you’re going to have to do the manual verification thing. You can’t immediately call them. You can’t. You’ve got to try to do the postcard thing and then run into some issues.
Now, I’ve run into the issue thing a couple of different times. Both times, it was with clients who changed locations, weren’t verified and had to get verified and they moved to a place that didn’t allow postcards. Both times, we ended up calling Google. When I say, calling Google, you do to their site and I’ll put a link in the show notes that you can get the page that shows you this. You end up saying, “Call me at this number.” Then, you have a conversation with their representative from Google. Now, what Google has to do at that point is they need to make a phone call to you. The thing that Google is looking for is for you to answer a business phone call. That’s the part that gets kind of interesting. Because if Google calls you and you say, “Hello? How you doing? What’s up?” That’s not the correct answer. That’s not what they’re looking for.
I’ve got one customer, when we went through this, who actually had a specific business phone. It was hardwired to the building and all that so that was easy. She answered the phone a specific way. The other one was doing the same thing I was doing. I actually had to tell them to call her so that I could talk to them on her behalf. It’s one of those weird things. I let her know that they were calling and she recognized it. She answered the phone properly as you would. Her voice mail is set up so that you would tell it’s a business phone. There’s a lot of folks who, however they run their business, run it shall we say in a somewhat of a nonchalant fashion. “Everybody do business with they know me so I just call up and they say, ‘Hello, how you doing?'” As opposed to, “Hair by Tanya, may I help you?” Something like that. When we’re talking about Google, that can be a little problem . How you’re going to get around that? That’s a you thing.
You’re going to have to either start answering the phone during business hours a specific way or realize that you may run into an issue when they’re trying to do a phone verification. An interesting work-around, one that I recommend on a regular basis is get yourself a Google Plus phone number. A Voice phone number. Excuse me. The reason I say that and I know it might be too late for some folks out there listening to me, I know. My bad. Is you can set a Google Voice phone number to do on the caller ID one of 2 things. You can either have it set up to flash your Google Voice phone number so you know that it’s a business phone call or a call coming into your business line. You can let it come in with the caller’s original caller ID phone number. If you have it set up for the first option, then no matter who it is, you know how to answer the phone. There’s workarounds there.
This is doable. You can have a Google+ page. Not a Google Brand page, a Google+ lOcal page. The one that comes with the [fringies 00:26:08]. Do not give up on this. Do not let what you think is not eligible or what you think is the rules stop you because it makes absolutely no sense for you to be the one that tells you, no. You go for it. Let Google tell you no. What’s the worst that can happen? A multi-billion dollar corporation who’d already telling you that you’re not eligible and you can’t have this benefit, suddenly tells you you have to stop using this benefit? Well, chances are that’s not going to happen. Like I said, for 99% of all stylistics out there, standing behind a chair, rocking the booth, you are eligible so go get that.
If you got any questions, need a little hand railing or something like that, you got yourself a Sherpa on speed dial. You know how to get a hold of me. (702)-582-6708. Do not sit there and [inaudible 00:27:02] over something as simple and as important as this. Call me, email me, get it done. If you got yourself a local geek and you don’t have your Google+ page, you need to be standing on their desk, looking at them going, “Hey, hey, hey! What’s wrong with you? Hook this up.” Too important. All right. Little long today but that’s what I wanted you to see. This is why call to action got pushed off the page because this is a big subject and too important. Too important. I think I’ve covered what I need to cover for today. You know how to get ahold of me if you got questions. My email works. Eric proved it. You feel free. All right, time for me to go.
This has been another episode of the ihelpsalons podcast, brought to you by me, your friendly neighborhood internet sherpa, and all the cool things we do over at eMicrobranding web hosting. In the words of the immortal, the chief rocker, Frankie Crocker, “May you live as long as you want, never want as long as you live. May you live to be 100. Me? One hundred minus a day so I’ll never know that nice people like you have passed away.” Go forth and do great things and get yourself a Google+ page. Do it! Do it! I’ll see you back here next week. Talk to you later. Bye!
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