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What is Google's Local Guides Program?

Google encourages user participation to return better and more accurate local search results

October 26, 2016

Early in 2015, Google rolled out the “Local Guides” program in an update to Google Maps that many believe is an attempt to compete with Yelp. The Google Local Guides Program allows users to engage in adding information about local businesses and in turn earn points and various other benefits. These benefits include things like access to an enclusive monthly email newsletter, the opportunity to join hangouts with other reviewers and to host and attend special meet-ups, the ability to moderate Local Guides Google+ communities, additional Google Drive storage and an annual mystery thank you gift!
 
There are five ways/actions that allow you to earn Local Guides points: these include uploading a photo, sharing reviews, adding new places, suggesting edits, and answering questions from other members. Local Guides participants also receive a special badge on their profile, and at the highest level – after completing 200 reviews or more – they could be featured on Google’s Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.
 
If you use Yelp, you will notice that that Google Local Guides benefits sound familiar, because Yelp’s Elite Squad members also receive special badges, invites to parties, and various gifts. However, unlike Yelp, it appears that anyone who meets the requirements in terms of number of reviews will be given Google’s profile badge and moved up through the various levels as their participation increases. On it's face, Google’s program appears to be more open than Yelp’s Elites because anyone can choose to log on and access a calendar of local meet-ups, can join in and can even submit events. So while Local Guide's membership may seem a little bit less exclusive than Yelp's Elite Squad the barriers to entry are less and as such it may attract more folks to try it and, ultimately, stick with it.

Another issue that Local Guides helps to tackle is the issue of valid Google reviews. Often times Google's review section is used to voice a complaint or grievenace with a business, and a company's star-rating is not always an accurate representation of the business's products or services. It is clear that Google is trying to correct for this issue with Local Guides. By encouraging more people to leave reviews in order to earn points and benefits, business reviews they are becoming more neutral and useful than they were in the past. 

Who Can be a Local Guide

Anyone can sign up to be a Local Guide - you simply select to "join now" on the program page and you will be directed to a sign-up page that is linked to your existing Google account. The program rules state, among many other things, that in order to participate in the Program as a Local Guide, you must:
  • Have a valid Google account
    Be at least 18 years of age and
  • Have signed up to participate in the Program

It also says that organizations, brands, and businesses are not eligible for the program.
 

Local Guide Tips

As a Local Guide, participants are placed into levels based on participation, and each level provides access to different and better benefits.There are certainly some tips and tricks to working the Local Guides Program but generally speaking your level is based on how much local content you contribute to Google including:
  • Writing high quality reviews. A review is considered to be “High Quality” when it adheres to the Google review guidelines described in the help center. Some of the tips for writing high quality reviews include:  be informative and insightful, be authentic and keep it real, be respectful, keep your social and political views out of your reviews, and write with style – as in use correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc. When it comes to seeking reviews, Google asks for fair, balanced and constructive feedback so that business owners can legitimately use the review to improve their services and products
  • Adding photos to listings, but only relevant ones - no selfies allowed!
  • Adding new or currently unlisted businesses. Google actively encourages users to go out and explore in order to add places not yet on their maps
  • Suggesting edits and correcting wrong information. This is useful for when a business moves or has incorrect info in their listing
Generally speaking, Google wants you to add value and to include details - good or bad - that help to give people a real sense of the business. These details can influence consumer's decisions and can make or break a business.

Here at Denver Website Designs we pride ourselves on delivering a better product and customer service experience than anyone in Colorado and we are always striving to bring you relevant, trending information that you can use right now. Give Google Local Guides program a try and let us know what you think. If you need assistance with your business’ digital marketing strategy or other digital marketing services, give us a call at 303-498-9000.
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