Google Local Guide Perks, Benefits and setbacks
Google Local Guides are reviewers that have listed themselves with Google to help build their User generated content. These guides write reviews, share photos and add or edit business information such as location on Google Maps.
Anyone over the age of 18 can join Google’s Local Guide program. Learn how to become a Google Local Guide and use the perks offered by Google.
It is hardly a debate that local search is more dominant than ever right now. There are infinite statistics that support this statement. An astonishing 86% of people rely on the internet to find a local business. Out of which 46% of all Google searches are made with the intent to find a local business.
Have you ever bought a product off of Amazon without checking its reviews and ratings first? I presume the answer is a big NO. It is out of question that User Generated (UGC) Content is a crucial make or break factor for businesses these days. Reviews are a critical tool in any purchase and decision making process.
Google Local Guides have now become what they were intended to be when Google started the program.
Right before jumping into Google Local Guides, let’s understand the intent with which Google started the program. It has more to do with user buying patterns, and human psyche than you can imagine, the whole concept of Local Guides depends on it.
Back in 2016 user generated content started to gain traction. It was reported that businesses with UGC relished a spectrum of performance benefits, including a 90% increase in time spent on the website, a staggering 50% increase in engagement rate, and a 10% improvement in conversions.
Now let’s jump to the year 2020, where reports have concluded that more brands are permitting their customers to “recommend and trade on their behalf”. BazaarVoice listed an experience index that exhibits significant control of products by consumers. They are heavily influencing product pages, user images are replacing traditional images. Product ratings, reviews, customers’ pictures, descriptions, etc all heavily influence consumer purchase decisions.
Personally speaking, as a millennial and noticing fellow millennial consumers, we hold reviews and user generated content in very high regard. The generation from millennials onwards has a massive distrust towards advertising and traditional brand generated content.
We see our peers as the most trusted source of information for product recommendations and reviews for everything from car dealerships to choosing a doctor for our beloved pet.
The Relationship Between Google Local Guides and User Generated Content
Now let us get back to focus on Google Local Guides and its relevance with user-generated content and its impact on consumer purchasing behavior. They are both interrelated.
Google says, “Local Guides is a global community of explorers who write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and check facts on Google Maps. Millions of people rely on contributions like yours to decide where to go and what to do”. Everything a Google Local Guide does is create UGC for their website, specifically Google Maps.
So these Local Guides in today’s lingo are local influencers who help people find local businesses, recognize which are popular businesses, and realize which local businesses are better than generic brands. Google maps are closely related to Google Local Guides, Google offers rewards and points for Guides.
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Why Become a Google Local Guide?
To be honest, there is no monetary gain from becoming a Local Guide for Google, it’s just for the pleasure of sharing experiences and information that someone becomes a Google Local Guide.
People put up information because they like sharing the best places, restaurants, doctors, plumbers, and services of their city with their city mates. But don’t worry it is not without any benefits that someone becomes a guide.
To begin with, Google gives you points for every review, photo, etc that you upload. These points earn you badges that bring you benefits such as you get Google features before they are launched for the general population.
To unlock these badges and points do the following:
- Rate a local business by giving it stars
- Review and local business ( be honest)
- Click pictures of the place and upload them
- You can also add videos if it is something that a photo can’t capture
- There are questions on Google Maps related to places, answer them if you have visited the place.
- Edit info – if a location is wrong of a restaurant in Google you can put the pin in the correct place or if the store timing is wrong you can edit that too.
The points system is as listed below by Google.
10 points per review
Review with more than 200 characters
10 bonus points per review
1 point per rating
5 points per photo
3 points per tag
7 points per video
1 point per answer
Respond to Q&As
3 points per response
5 points per edit
15 points per place added
15 points per road added
1 point per fact checked
Eligible list published
10 points per published list
Description (in list)
5 points per description added
These points then add up to give Local Guides their badges mentioned below
Do SEO and Google Local Guides Have a Connection?
Anyone signing up on Google Local Guides to improve and boost their local presence will be disappointed to know that it will help you make edits easily. All the edits are checked by Google before they are approved and put up on Google Maps. Not only are there no SEO benefits for the business there are plenty of disadvantages for local businesses.
Many Local Guides main focus is earning points and badges this leads to making invalid and purposeless contributions, which is not useful for Maps users as the information is not giving out any specifications of the business or an honest review of the business. They simply add comments to add points to their profile to rank higher.
Greg Griffod of SearchLabs in an interview said that Local Guides are a signal of spam for most users. He looks at non-Guide reviews as more authentic and trustworthy, because they don’t have a motive behind it and literally want to share their experience of a place with someone else.
Though Google has policies to fend off Guide scammers post false reviews to obtain benefits from Google or for their own business. Google’s content policy states that contributors have to be precise in representing the location whereas inappropriate reviews which include fake and spammy content can all be detected by Google’s system. Violation of the policy leads to the removal of content and losing points for that content.
Google prioritizes reviews from Google Local Guides in Google My Business. Google doesn’t allow business owners to review their own business. Google is soon adding a feature where reviews can be upvoted to allow honest and useful reviews to be on top.
Join the Google Local Guide Program Today!
Follow these easy steps to become a Local Guide and earn points and benefits.
- Log into your Google and go to the Local Guide Sign up page – If your location is on, on your device, you will see that Google displays the city you are in. YOu have to be above 18 to be a Google Local Guide.
- Now that you are signed up and ready to go, you can make comments, reviews, and add pictures on Google Maps. On your dashboard, you can see a video that teaches you how to navigate as a Local Guide. You will also get an option to write your first review.
- Next, you can search for places that you want to review and start adding “contributions” to them which will earn you points and badges.
- Once you enter a business’s name that you want to review, Google shows you a series of questions based on the type of business.
- Apart from Google Local Guide, you can make contributions directly on Google Maps. Not only that you can fact check other comments and make changes to wrong information.
To sum it up
Google Local Guides are an integral part of the maps as a whole system. They offer their knowledge, write reviews, add missing places, fact-check information, and share photos and videos with users. It is a fun system to get access to Google’s exclusive features and apps and a reward.
That said, SEO and Google Local Guide are not at all compatible. Any attempts made to make it work will be futile. Including Google Local Guide in an SEO strategy is absurd and will achieve no results whatsoever.
About the Author
My name’s Semil Shah, and I pride myself on being the last digital marketer that you’ll ever need. Having worked internationally across agile and disruptive teams from San Fransico to London, I can help you take what you are doing in digital to a whole next level.