Google is both the most- and least-understanding of life in the trenches. Tim Frank (lead architect of the Google Partners Program) and Harry Kim (statistician) hosted a Q&A yesterday on “Recommendations To Achieve Partner Status.” Their #1 recommendation? Follow all the automated recommendations.
Company-level Partner accounts have a “Partner Rating” score based on “best practices campaign strength” which will partially determine position in Partner Search results. The way to manipulate your Partner Rating is to conform to all of Google’s best practices and accept all of their recommendations. You’ll get automated suggestions for raising your score which are meant to encourage you to encourage your client to accept the recommendations. They’ll even present you with links to canned presentation materials and literature to persuade both you and your client to do it Google’s way.
Frank and Kim’s approach to ranking agencies in the Partners Search feature based on the quality of their work and even revoking the status of remarkably bad SEMs is the best possible solution. The problem it addresses is that SEM hucksters tarnish absolutely everything they touch.
They confirmed that suggestions seen inside the Partners portal (the program’s home) are prioritized and you’ll only see the “Top 5″ displayed at any given time. The green progress bar gamifies your compliance with Google’s suggestions and the way to move this bar (and rank higher as an agency) is to do the five things that Google wants you to do the most. Once complete, the green bar should have gained a notch but you’re not done, because now the top five are gone and the following five have become the new top five. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
A common question addressed was whether seasonally active accounts impact the score given to an agency as a whole. The answer is yes they do, and probably negatively. The best solution? Get more accounts that are less seasonal. That’s not the most understanding answer in the world as it reveals that many Googlers have no idea what an undertaking it is to “get more clients.” One interesting quote regarding seasonal campaigns (I love the way it’s phrased): “Last-minute-ness is not interesting to the algorithm.” – Tim
There will be no badge for individuals. They say this is because advertisers go to them in search of agencies, not individuals. For individuals who want a badge, the response once again reveals how little Googlers understand about life down here on the surface: “Professionalize yourself.” Just create a business and then that business can get a badge. Go on. Leave this browser tab open so you can finish reading this after you’ve completed that recommendation.
The program’s structure obviously favors large and established agencies and Googlers only respond that if you don’t like how it impacts your small agency, then make your agency big and your problem is solved.
They added that another heavily-weighed input is the average quality score in your portfolio of accounts. Another answer to a question about Google’s strong-arming an agency whose client doesn’t want call extensions to use call extensions was: “You’ll never get penalized for doing that [not using call extensions].” (- Harry) But you would.
They care about how well you already serve your existing clients in order to predict how well you will serve the prospective clients they are presenting you to via the Partner Search feature. Let’s rephrase that: They care about how strictly you already follow their recommendations in order to predict how strictly you will follow their recommendations in the future.