What is Google Helpous?
Google Helpouts is a new service offered by Google designed to match experts and those seeking their advice. The best way to understand it is to watch the promo’ video:
So if you want to learn a new language, the theory is that you can log on to Helpouts, search for experts and sign up for a Helpout.
How does Google make money from Helpouts?
Experts set their hourly rate and Google takes a massive 20% of that as a commission.
How does payment work?
When you sign up for a helpout you pay by credit card and the expert must have a Google Wallet account to accept the payment.
Couldn’t I just find an expert online and meet him/her on Skype?
Of course you could and you would save the 20% fee which Google charges the provider who in turn will pass this onto you!
So why would anyone use Helpouts?
If you research online, you may find that a so-called expert is in fact a bluffer. Google’s claim to check and vet every provider is a bit disingenuous; do they have an in-house handyman specialist that asks the handyman expert how to fix a leaking tap before they will let him register as an expert? They do claim that they contact every expert before allowing them live on the site but one would have to question the value of this. However, Google offers all users of Helpouts a 100% money-back guarantee which offers great peace of mind. In addition, over time, experts will build up a history. Presumably those with poor reviews will be pushed to the bottom of the list and those with consistently high reviews will be pushed to the top. Those seeking expertise will be able to check the reviews of previous customers. Over time, the good providers will become easy to identify. For example, one would be pretty confident that the expert below is a high quality person based on previous reviews and so a bad experience is very unlikely.
I’m an expert, how can I give Helpouts?
Simply sign up here: https://helpouts.google.com/pwelcome I believe that a Google rep’ will be in touch to vet you and if you pass, you can go live on the site!
Will this “take off”?
It’s hard to say at this point. It almost depends on how badly Google wants it to. For example, if Google decided to push Helpout results to the top of the search engine results page when people searched for phrases like “learn Spanish” or “how to fix a leaking tap” etc, then it certainly would receive vast traffic. Of course, experts could even bid on their keywords and send the traffic to their Helpouts page. Google would love this as it makes money helping the expert win new business and once won, Google takes 20% on an ongoing basis! If I did use Helpouts, I would ask the expert can we do the remaining sessions on Skype and ask him to reduce his hourly rate by 20%. I can’t imagine many people would be foolish enough to keep coming back to session after session paying Google 20% each time when Skype provides a free alternative. So, for ongoing training, I can’t see it being used. Where I see value is in one-off tasks like setting up email accounts on mobile phones, making a PC run more quickly etc. A company such as DPFOC could set up a team of IT experts offering IT Helpouts at $15/hr for example. We would use Google as if we get lots of good reviews, then we can leverage these to win more clients and so we’d be happy to pay 20%. However, this would be dependent on Google actually pushing traffic to this site by, among other things, promoting it in search results as described above.
I think this will be around to stay as Google does add value as a trusted market maker between experts and would-be students. How big it becomes depends on how aggressively Google pushes it. Regardless of whether it goes well or not, one has to admire the entrepreneurial zest that still burns within such a large business. The temptation to rest on its laurels and count the cash generated from paid search is one that Google is resisting fiercely and initiatives like this show that the search giant is continually looking to improve the Internet…….and charge 20% in the process!