It is recently touted that the Google Local Guides program is losing its effectiveness due to misuse by some local contributors. But does this affect users who are actively contributing to the program? In case you’re new to Google Local Guide, this post will help you understand what it is and how you can be part of it and enjoy the perks, too.
What is a Google Local Guide?
A Google local guide is a user participating in a program of activities that rewards them for constantly contributing to Google Maps. Google Local Guides engage in review writing, photo sharing, adding missing or editing existing business information, and checking facts on Google Maps. The idea is centered around making Google Maps a very accurate source of information for both individuals and local businesses.
Anyone can join and become a contributor. Google, in a bid to encourage active participation and continuous uploading of useful info, rewards participants by offering them perks, points, and other non-cash benefits. Each contribution is reviewed for accuracy and updated in Google Maps. You can join anytime and start making contributions as a Google Local Guides and start earning points and based on your Google contributions. This information, when uploaded to Google Maps, helps people looking to patronize local businesses to get accurate information.
Google Local Guide Depends on User-Generated Content (UGC)
The importance or relevance of the Google Local Guides programs is built against the backdrop of the growing relevance of user-generated content. It is no doubt that user-generated content is gradually becoming a mainstay on the internet, and this is because people generally trust the information provided by past and existing customers/users over those publicized by the business itself.
As of 2016, it was reported that websites using user-generated content benefited from several performance benefits, such as a 90% growth in time spent on site, a 50% improvement in engagement rates, a 73% increase in email click-throughs, and a 10% boost in overall conversion rates. The fact that about 46% of all Google searches are targeted towards finding local information also lends to the importance of UGC today. Today, we see how user-generated content is being substituted for traditional image carousels. For instance, consumer product ratings, reviews, questions, answers, and images uploaded by other consumers can greatly influence purchase decisions.
All these are user-generated content. And in matters like this, people trust the genuine reviews of others of any business over the brand’s message to the public. For instance, when finding a restaurant or booking, most people trust the recommendations and reviews of other users than any advert put up by that business. According to findings by the Experience Index, there is a 159% increase in revenue from visitors who rely on reviews. Bright Local reveals that 8-10 people read online reviews before making a purchase and another 89% of people aged 35-54 years rely on online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.
This is where the intersection of Google Local Guides and User-Generated Content becomes very obvious. Considering that Google Local Guides are users who write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit missing/wrong information, and check facts on Google Maps, it is clear how the Google Local Guide program relies heavily on UGC. Millions of people around the world rely on information uploaded by other users to get direction and make informed purchase decisions.
The information supplied by Google Local Guides is essentially what makes Google Maps as accurate as it is, making it a very important solution to Google. Acting as local influencers, Local Guides can strategically shape the impression of local shoppers of any business, especially as they get rewards and perks for their contributions.
The Benefits of Becoming a Google Local Guide
Google rewards participation with points, badges, and perks. The duty of the guides is to rate local businesses, take photos, share their experiences, leave reviews, answer questions, add places not already listed on Maps, and check facts based on their direct interactions with those businesses.
This program uses these local guides as foot soldiers to keep Google Maps updated, accurate, and more superior to other rival products. Even users who are not registered as local guides can share reviews and upload information from their direct knowledge of any business they interact with. Do keep in mind that you cannot review your business, even if you are a registered local guide. Local guides are typically local consumers, so their reviews or contributions will appear on the Google My Business profile of companies that are reviewed.
To benefit from the Google Local Guide program, you’ll need to make the following contributions:
● Rate/review a local business
● Share photos
● Upload videos
● Ask or answer questions about a place you have visited on Maps
● Answer questions asked on Google Maps
● Edit information
● Add a missing place on Maps
● Check facts for accuracy
As a local contributor, benefiting from Google’s Local Guide Program has a gamification dimension. This means that the more you contribute, the more perks and points you earn. For instance, you’ll earn 10 points whenever you review a local business. If your review is more thorough, exceeding 200 characters, you’ll get 10 additional bonus points. If you add a photo, you’ll earn 5 more points, and so on like that. For badges, you’ll need to attain certain levels.
When you reach level four, you’ll receive a badge. You must have earned up to 250 points. The highest badge is reserved for level 10, and it requires 100,000 points. Note also that Google can remove your contributions and deduct the points you earned if you violate Maps policies (post pointless or misleading information).
How to Join
● Sign in to your Google account, go to the Local Guides signup page to sign up by following a few easy steps.
● You can begin to make contributions to Google Maps. There’s usually a welcome video on your dashboard. You can now search for the place or business you wish to review. Click the ‘Contribute’ button to start.
● Google will ask you a series of questions after you’ve added the name of the local business you wish to review. These questions are usually based on the type of business you’re reviewing.
● You can also now begin to make contributions directly to Google Maps, fact check, verify, and edit the information that other users have submitted about businesses near to you.
Can being a Google Local Guide help with SEO?
Unfortunately, being a Google Local Guide does not improve your SEO rankings. The best you’ll get as a contributor are the points and perks. So, if you intend to join so you can leverage the opportunity to improve your local SEO, you need to explore other practical alternatives like creating and optimizing your Google My Business profile.
Google Local Guides help to keep Google Maps updated and accurate by providing reviews, adding missing places, verifying and editing incorrect information, and uploading images and videos about those places/businesses. Local consumers and tourists can then use this insight from Maps to make informed purchase decisions.
Users who share information as Google Local Guides receive rewards from Google in the form of points, badges, and perks as they contribute. Also, there is no SEO reward for being a Google Local Guide and you cannot review your own business.