Colan Nielsen

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Hi All,

I don't think this has ever been discussed here and I've been thinking about it a lot lately.....

I have come to realize that having a strong understanding of Google Places and everything that defines it is one thing. After a certain amount of time, all of the lingo and guidelines become second nature. But, I find that trying to teach it to someone else is a whole new ballgame.

How do you teach Google Places to new staff members, apprentices....etc? What do you find are the best methods to teach people who are new to the game?

Do you have training manuals that you keep updated? Do you use video? Or is it one of those things that can only be learned after long hours of first hand observation and practice?
 

Eric Rohrback

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I think this is more of a hands on thing that the only way to truly learn is by getting them in the game. I started by making sure they have a good understanding of the guidelines and have feeds to keep up with updates. I tell them every week that they need to spend at least 15 minutes per day skimming through the Google forums and this forum to keep up with changes. That's a minimum requirement. I've also taken screenshots of local dashboards and dummied it up with incorrect stuff to see if they could spot how to fix problems. Pretty simple, all you need is a screengrab program and paint. Little things like making them realize how to set up a SAB, the proper way to list categories, etc.. etc...

That's how I usually start with training. Gotta teach the basics before you throw them into some more complex stuff. I've been told the quizzes (Google local listing dashboard screenshots) with fake/not-real listings are helpful starting out.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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Interesting topic Colan, and one that hasn't been discussed here before.

Well, I would like to say that the documents from Linda's On-Site Organic Hooks course are good for training, as it's basically a fully comprehensive instruction booklet that we get. So, I've already started to use them in training.

Other than that, in terms of keeping "up-to-date" with SEO changes (this could be a topic in itself), I'd say it's important to have an RSS feed manager (like Google Reader) with some essential blogs/websites like Search Engine Land, and to watch it like a hawk. We all know that this stuff changes every day, and it's essential to have systems for monitoring the changing environment.

Finally, I'd like to point out the "classic" Learn SEO Guide, although I realise it's general and doesen't particularly cover Local:

http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo

It's still a great holistic look at what SEO is, and this can lead to looking more at Local.
 

Colan Nielsen

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I've also taken screenshots of local dashboards and dummied it up with incorrect stuff to see if they could spot how to fix problems. Pretty simple, all you need is a screengrab program and paint. Little things like making them realize how to set up a SAB, the proper way to list categories, etc.. etc...

That's a great idea. I agree, conducting these types of activities or "tests" would make a great learning exercise. I might just run with that idea :)

I think quizzes in general are a great way to make information "stick" and it also creates great discussion that allows for deeper, more complex concepts to emerge.
 

Phil Rozek

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Great topic, Colan. I 100% agree with what Nick and EsR said.

My two cents:

To me, just as important as reading and digesting local SEO ?news? is to make sure the person (client, employee, etc.) racks up some first-hand experience and isn?t afraid to mess up a few times. It?s like with skiing: if you don?t fall down occasionally, you?re not learning and getting better.

One thing I?ve found to be exceedingly helpful is to repurpose. For instance, if someone emails me a really good question, I not only file away the question away in a ?mail bag,? but I also save my response. I?ll usually draw on that response next time someone asks me the same question or a similar one. Another way I ?recycle? is to send people whom I?m training real-life examples of the work I?ve done. I?ll send them local SEO audits I?ve done. If we?ve talked on the phone, a lot of times I?ll jot down notes on what we covered ? and of course save those notes. I guess it?s not so much ?repurposing? as simply not reinventing the wheel every time you get a question or want to illustrate a point.
 

Colan Nielsen

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I created a 3-page "quiz" for our team and it went over really well. It covered everything from duplicates to category do's and don'ts to service area business guidelines.

I sent it out to the team, and we went over it on the following weeks meeting. It created some great discussion and was actually one of the best weekly meetings we've had in a while, IMO.

I was inspired to create the quiz by the comments on this thread as well as Phil's post - Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Google Places Quality Guidelines? | LocalVisibilitySystem.com

Thanks guys.
 

Phil Rozek

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That?s really smart, Colan. Flattered that my quiz was the ?inspiration? :)

I?d be really interested in seeing what you?ve got (I?m a sucker for quizzes), though I know it?s probably a top-secret in-house memo.
 

Colan Nielsen

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I have no problem sharing it Phil. I wonder if Linda would be interested in adding a "Test Your Google+ Local Knowledge" section, I could add it there for all the members to take.

Maybe it could be a section of the forum that could be added to all the time with new tests on different subjects. Could be fun, and turn into a great resource on the forum.

Let's see what Linda thinks :)
 

Linda Buquet

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Linda LOVES it!

And so generous of you to share Colan. I think it?s a brilliant training tool. And you are so bright, by sharing it we can all contribute and it will maybe enrich it for your own use and is a WIN/WIN for all!

However a lot of issues go into creating a new forum section. Not just the work but that fact it takes up precious real estate on the home page which pushes other content down. PLUS you can't devote a whole forum section to a topic that only has 1 - 3 posts. So need to build up enough of these to justify it.

Soooo let's just start with a post. If it takes off and there is lots of play, I'll make it a sticky. If we get to the point where we have 4 - 5 good ones, then I can create a new forum for them.

How does that sound???
 

Linda Buquet

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Sounds good but not sure you need to send to me. Totally have faith in you just posting it. Unless you want to just brainstorm it 1st or get my feedback.

If so post in the private TC forum so you can get the formatting etc. the way you want it and then I can see it, then you can just move it to the right live forum.

This will be great! Thanks Colan!
 

Cleaner44

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Interesting topic Colan, and one that hasn't been discussed here before.

Well, I would like to say that the documents from Linda's On-Site Organic Hooks course are good for training, as it's basically a fully comprehensive instruction booklet that we get. So, I've already started to use them in training.

Other than that, in terms of keeping "up-to-date" with SEO changes (this could be a topic in itself), I'd say it's important to have an RSS feed manager (like Google Reader) with some essential blogs/websites like Search Engine Land, and to watch it like a hawk. We all know that this stuff changes every day, and it's essential to have systems for monitoring the changing environment.

Finally, I'd like to point out the "classic" Learn SEO Guide, although I realise it's general and doesen't particularly cover Local:

SEO: The Free Beginner?s Guide From SEOmoz

It's still a great holistic look at what SEO is, and this can lead to looking more at Local.

Thanks for the great idea Nick. Any chance you can post a list of RSS feeds that you follow?
 

Linda Buquet

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Well, I would like to say that the documents from Linda's On-Site Organic Hooks course are good for training, as it's basically a fully comprehensive instruction booklet that we get. So, I've already started to use them in training.

The other thing I've been stressing about my training lately? (because it keeps getting so booked I don't have room for additional staff to attend any more...)

If you use the MP3 recording of our session it's even better for training staff, than the live course would be. BECAUSE you can pause to expand on a topic, explain it your way and tell them more details about how you want that part handled for YOUR clients. OR stop anytime they have questions and answer them yourself. Because as you know in training there is SO much to cover that there is not much time for Qs.

PLUS with the MP3 you can break it down into bite more bite-sized chunks and do one hour at a time, so it's easier for staff to absorb.


So you being the experienced one - YOU power through the Advanced course, then use the recording to help you adjust training, more to your staff's needs. Also again, the course is very advanced and would not make perfect sense to a green newb. So you can explain the basics then fill in with the more advanced stuff in bite sized pieces from the recording.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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Thanks for the great idea Nick. Any chance you can post a list of RSS feeds that you follow?

Thanks for showing some interest and I'd be delighted to share with you. I cannot recommend RSS Feeds enough.

*Deep Breath*


- Adster Creative - Local
- BrightLocal.com - Local
- Catalyst eMarketing (Linda Buquet) - Local
- Elsue - Local
- Local Search Forum Community (RSS Feed/Posts) :D
- Local SEO Guide (Andrew Shotland) - Local
- LocalVisibilitySystem.com (Phil Rozek) - Local
- Matt Cutts - General SEO + Personal
- Mihmorandum (David Mihm) - Local
- Mike Blumenthal - Local
- NGS Marketing (Nyagoslav Zhekov) - Local
- Official Google Webmaster Central Blog
- Point Blank SEO - Link Building
- Rand's Blog (Rand Fishkin) Personal + General SEO
- Search Engine Land - General SEO
- SEO Igloo Blog (Miriam Ellis) - Local
- SEOMoz - General SEO
- Touch Point Digital Marketing - Local
- Small Business Online Coach (Matthew Hunt) - Local
- TVS Internet Marketing (Travis Van Slooten) - Local


Key:

General SEO
Local
Link Building
Personal

-------------------------

There is obviously a lot there. Even so, I do try to be picky with what I read, and I love reading all of the above sources!
 

Linda Buquet

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AWESOME Nick. Thanks for sharing and I LOVE the color coding.

That's too important of a post to have hiding in this one thread, so I'm going to copy to new thread too with appropriate title so we can all share and add to it.

Will wait til Monday to do it when there are more folks online to see it! :)
 

Phil Rozek

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@Colan

Awesome! It sounds like your quizzes will have a ?home away from home? on the forum, but you?re certainly welcome to do it as a guest post on my blog. (I?m thinking about doing another quiz post soon anyway?it?s been a while.)
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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@Linda: Thanks a lot! Yes, that's a great idea as I'm sure people would find it helpful to have some of these Blogs.

@Colan: Forgot to say that it would be awesome to see the "quiz" as it sounds like it's going to be a great resource for everyone. I'll have to subscribe to your blog (add to the list above) as well as it looks like you've got some interesting posts.
 

Nyagoslav

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Here is what I am doing:

Scenario 1: If the staff already has some knowledge and experience in local SEO:

- Make them sign up for the daily emails of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land and read everything directly related to SEO (this excludes things such as industry news, business and law news, affiliate marketing, etc).

- Make them add to Twitter: Mike Blumenthal, Phil Rozek, David Mihm, Linda Buquet (Catalyst Local) and read everything they share

- Make them sign up for the daily emails of the Google and Your Business forum

- Make them read, understand, and remember everything in the Local Search Ranking Factors

- Make them read and implement what is written in my Citation Building Guide

- Make them read and learn the Advanced Guide to SEO by Neil Patel (recently added)

- Practice, practice, practice

Scenario 2: If the staff doesn't have any or just very basic knowledge in SEO:

- All of the above mentioned + what is below

- Make them read every single article from my list of best articles of the year (depending on which year we are in), and ask them to summarize some of the most important ones

- Make them read and implement Phil's 12-Week Action Plan

- Make them read the SEO Beginner's Guide of SEOmoz

- Practice x10

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Did you notice a significant omission? Yep, the Google Places Quality Guidelines. Why? Because what is explained in the guidelines is so insufficient and obscure at times that if you just know the quality guidelines without understanding how they work in reality, you could very easily make mistakes. So I prefer to tell them to refer to the guidelines only after they consult with me if they are not sure about something.
 
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