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Feel like your business isn’t getting enough reviews on Google? Well, that should change soon. Or at least Google hopes so.

According to tech media company TechCrunch, the search engine giant has quietly launched a new program that will encourage more local business reviews and ratings on its own reviews platform, Google+ Local. The program – called Google City Experts – is designed to reward Google+ users who have written at least 50 high-quality reviews on the site, and who will continue to produce new reviews for Google+ Local and Google Maps at the rate of at least 5 a month.

(Check out: “Google Overhauls Maps, Introduces New Rating System for Businesses”)

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City Experts will bring together Google+’s most active users who write reviews and upload photos of local places. Right now, it’s being offered only in select cities: Austin, Birmingham (UK), Bristol (UK), Chicago, Edinburgh, London, New York, Portland (OR), Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco and Sydney. (More will be added soon.)

Under the program, these city experts will get to be part of an exclusive community, which means they’ll get access to “fun, exclusive events in local areas,” “free custom swag” (or Google-branded freebies), and “special online recognition.” According to TechCrunch, they will also be “alerted to local contests and events they can get involved in.” Additionally, city experts will get to meet their peers as part of an exclusive Google+ community that discusses new tips and tricks for using Google+ Local and Google Maps.

So how does Google determine whether or not a review is “high-quality”?

  • Review posts have to be well-written, and should include photos of the places being reviewed.
  • Reviews must be at least 3-4 sentences long.
  • Reviews should be helpful and balanced – written to inform, instead of to merely criticize a business or shower it with fake/exaggerated praise. So obviously, writing “Chicken nuggitz be crispy like you never seen, this place is BAWLIN’ yo” for your local Wendy’s isn’t going to cut it.

Google City Experts is geared towards improving the quantity and quality of reviews on Google Maps and Google+ Local. The launch of the program coincides with the company’s recent efforts to improve its local business search platform: modifying the old Google Places to Google+ Local, announcing a new Google+ Dashboard (for managing and tracking Google reviews), unveiling interactive Carousel results for local business searches, and revamping Google Maps in a way that can compete with other local business discovery services like Yelp and Foursquare.

Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

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