Google Local Guides provide reviews, share photos, edit business information and check facts on Google Maps. Joining this program is quick and simple – in just minutes you could be earning points and benefits for your contributions to make Google Maps an even better resource for business data! Learn how you can become one of them now to help make the world of business information a better place!
Local search is more important than ever right now, with 46% of Google searches conducted specifically to locate local information. There is ample proof of this statement from numerous statistics which support it, such as 46% of all Google searches conducted for this purpose.
Uncontested evidence points towards user-generated content’s rapid rise, with data showing its role as a fundamental resource in decision-making processes.
Google Local Guides have become an indispensable component of review management strategies online.
Before discussing Google Local Guides in detail, let’s briefly reflect upon their importance in terms of customer journey and online user psychology. User-generated content plays an integral role in this concept as well.
Salesforce research indicated that user-generated content was showing promise by 2016, as pages featuring it experienced significant performance benefits such as an upsurge in time spent on site, 50% increase in engagement rates, 73% more email click-through and an overall 10% boost to conversions.
After four years, the Bazaar Voice 2020 Shopper Experience Index conclusively shows that more and more brands are encouraging customers to advocate and sell on their behalf. According to this index, customers now control product pages via user-generated content instead of traditional image carousels; consumer product ratings, reviews, images uploaded by consumers and question-answer sessions play an integral role in purchase decisions.
At its core, people trust other people. Consumers – particularly Millennial and subsequent generations – often distrust advertising and brand-generated content; in fact 84% of Millennial consider traditional marketing distasteful; making peers their go-to source of advice when searching for anything from restaurants and hotels to contractors or vets.
The Experience Index’s findings substantiate this idea; their findings show a 159% increase in revenue from visitors who interact with reviews. Research also provides empirical proof of reviews’ significant effect on online sales; even just 10% more user reviews led to over 5% more bookings in travel!
Over the past decade, our research has tracked this trend closely. Year after year we find that most (over 8 out of 10 last year) read online reviews for local businesses; 89% of 35-54 year-olds trust these reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
What is the Relationship Between UGC and Google Local Guides
So what exactly is its relation with Google Local Guides? UGC plays a fundamental role in supporting its functionality.
Google defines Guides as people who generate user-generated content such as reviews, photos, answers questions and edit places in Google Maps to share information with millions of others around the globe. Millions rely on this user-generated information from guides to make their decisions on where and what to do next.
Google Local Guides have become indispensable local influencers, helping shape which local businesses become popular thanks to consumers’ natural inclination towards trusting information from peers over brands.
Google Maps’ Local Guides program is closely intertwined with its Business Profile system; as such, points and rewards for Guides depend on contributions they make to Google Maps. As a local business, take note of this as it could impact how customers perceive you!
Why Use Google Local Guides?
Google describes its Local Guides as a community. Members of this community include consumers from their area who rate local businesses, take photos, share experiences with others and leave reviews; answer any queries related to said businesses; add locations not currently listed on Maps; as well as check facts.
Participation is rewarded with points, badges and perks – clearly an indicator that Google appreciates our work as Guides act as fact-checkers and researchers in real time, searching out, noting down and uploading local business info in real-time to improve Maps accuracy compared to rival offerings – making their contribution integral to its operation and longevity. Participation drives Maps ecosystem ecosystem.
Note that Guides’ actions don’t exclusively fall to those registered for Google Local Guide. Even without signing up as one, many of the same functions can still be accomplished: leaving impartial reviews via Google Reviews or uploading images directly of a business for inclusion on local search and Google My Business profiles can all help create positive interactions within a community. You could also pose questions, suggest edits to local business listings and answer Google questions such as whether a location is wheelchair accessible by clicking’share the latest info link’ within local search results.
Google Local Guide contributions will be tied to gamification; as you share more, your rewards and points increase accordingly.
How Can I Join Google Local Guide Program?
Joining the Google Local Guide program is very straightforward, taking only minutes to sign up!
Log into your Google account, and navigate to the Local Guides signup page. With location turned on on your device, your town should already be per-filled for you – otherwise just add it yourself, confirm you’re over 18, and agree to receive emails.
Once registered, you are now ready to start contributing your reviews to Google Maps. Your dashboard will feature a welcome video as well as the option for leaving reviews of locations you find interesting – search and click “Contribute” button on each to start earning points, badges and rewards!
Once you have added the name of the local business you wish to review, Google will present a series of questions pertinent to that type of establishment.
When reviewing a hotel, for example, you will be asked for an overall star rating as well as details about the type of trip (business, vacation, solo traveler or with others) you took. In addition, individual star ratings for rooms, locations and services can also be assigned individually, plus images can be uploaded.
You can now make contributions directly to Google Maps by going directly to Maps. By going there, you’ll be able to review information provided by other users about businesses nearby your location, fact check it and edit any incorrect or false reports submitted by others, and add edits if any incorrect or outdated details arise.
Google can also provide suggestions of places you should explore or review based on where you’ve been. By activating location history, they may even suggest potential destinations based on where you have been.
How can I unlock Google Local Guide points and badges?
Google Local Guides boasts an engaging gamification feature, rewarding Guides who make contributions through points and badges which they can exchange for rewards with Google partners. You must first make contributions to maps in order to begin collecting points; once active, activities such as increasing activity will help earn badges as rewards.
by rating local businesses with star ratings or giving reviews; reviewing them by giving ratings or reviews; sharing photos/video; answering any queries/providing answers about places visited through Maps or Local Search, posting an update/correction in local search or providing an answer via the information panel in local search; editing info relating to missing places ; providing/collecting facts regarding them (via local search panel); contributing facts/check facts etc
How do Google Local Guides benefit?
Every contribution you make through Google Local Guides program (like leaving reviews, uploading photos, answering queries or adding missing places) will earn you points. Reviewing local businesses will net 10 points; in-depth reviews over 200 characters earn 10 bonus points – upload photos for five additional points! And so on.
Just like in video games, the more points you earn equals higher levels reached.
Once you reach a certain level, you will earn a badge! As your contributions earn points and move through the levels, more badges become available; reaching level four with 250 points required requires receiving one, while reaching Level 10 requires earning 100,000. Any contributions removed due to breaking Maps policies will result in the deducted points from earning badges.
Google often mentions the benefits that participants in its Local Guides program can enjoy as an avid Google user, with early access to new Google features being among its core benefits. Google also says participants may receive special perks from partners; though no details have been given as to which ones might offer such offers or when.
Reddit thread, some Guides reported receiving gifts like socks, money off Udemy courses, phone cases free for two years from Google and 1TB of storage space from partners for two years – though others hadn’t experienced anything special from them. Others suspected partner perks may have been limited in order to discourage Maps fraud – something likely given the local search community’s frustration with Local Guides who exploit and misuse the system to earn points quickly.
Google indicates that badges recognize Guide contributions; therefore, those who take pride in sharing local knowledge may consider earning one as reward enough.
Can Being A Google Local Guide Affect SEO?
Unfortunately, being a Google Local Guide won’t do much for your local SEO presence; any notion that suggested edits to Google My Business profiles more easily as a Local Guide is just a myth – all edits must first go through an approval process before being visible on Maps or search results. Therefore joining this platform doesn’t provide any SEO benefits; in fact there could be serious adverse repercussions for local businesses wishing to join it.
Professional local search professionals often report that some Guides are overly focused on accruing points; rather than making contributions that benefit users and businesses equally, such as valid contributions on Maps users or fair deals with businesses, these Guides tend to make irrelevant remarks to boost their profile count for “contributions”.
Steady Demand’s Ben Fisher is an expert on Google My Business Product Guides in 2019. I recently spoke with him and he provided insight on their 2019 implementation:
Greg Gifford of SearchLab suggests that local Guides may actually be an indicator of spam for many consumers. According to him, non-Guide reviews tend to be more legitimate because they represent someone leaving reviews because they wanted to rather than spamming the system with reviews just to gain points.
Google has policies in place to prevent Guides from abusing its system to obtain false benefits for their own businesses. According to its content policy, all contributions must provide an accurate depiction of each location while “inappropriate reviews”, such as spam reviews or fake ones can be detected and removed if violated; should someone violate any aspect of Google Guide’s content policy their offending content will be removed as well as points deducted from their profile.
Google Local Guide reviews are given priority when it comes to display in Google My Business; however, as a business owner this should not affect you since Google does not permit business owners to review themselves.
As of the time this article is being written, Google seems to be testing a feature with Local Guides of Level 5 or above being asked for feedback regarding which business reviews they consider more beneficial than others.
Voting on reviews could prove advantageous to your business by helping to establish better review profiles! Vote now for reviews that you feel best represent what is needed and boost them up the ranking!
Google Local Guides play an integral role in Google Maps, offering reviews, editing incorrect data, adding missing locations and sharing images and videos that provide useful insight for local consumers and giving dedicated search users an enjoyable way to participate with the product.
However, signing up to Google Local Guides offers no SEO benefits or preferential edits or improved rankings; therefore it should not form part of any local search strategy or be relied upon when performing review management or creating your Google Business Profile. Still, keeping an eye on it during these efforts will ensure maximum returns on your efforts.