Google Local Guides are the power users on Google Maps. They enhance the online local experience for other searchers by writing online reviews, sharing images, answering questions, and correcting or editing numerous entries on Google Maps. In other words, they can be a huge boon for your local listing management strategy.
This is because Google is widely known as the leader when it comes to local search as well as a major contributor to your local SEO efforts. Customer review data shows that Google alone holds 57.5% of all online reviews. Those in the Local Guides program not only ensure that Google keeps its commanding lead in online reviews; they also work to be an authoritative source on Maps, which makes them a valuable asset for any business looking to make their mark online.
How Do People Become Google Local Guides?
The process for becoming a Google Local Guide is as simple as visiting the Local Guides site and clicking the “Get Started” button at the top of the screen. After making sure you’re signed in to your Google account you’ll need to select your city and check the boxes confirming three things:
- That you are 18 years old or older (or the specified age requirement for your country)
- Read and agree to the Local Guides program rules
- Agree to receive emails from the program
Once you check the boxes, you can press the “Sign Up” and wait for Google to confirm your entry into the program.
Aside from the age limit, there are two other pieces of criteria for anyone who wants to be a Local Guide. The program is only available where Google Maps is present. As it stands, Google says that Maps is available in “40 countries and languages.” The other criteria is that Local Guides are only for individuals, not businesses. This ensures that contributions from Local Guides are true to the experience and prevents potential manipulation of the submitted information by any brand.
How Google Local Guides Contribute to Listings
Specific actions by a Local Guide on Maps are rewarded with points such as leaving a review, adding a missing place, or answering questions. Google provided a chart below that breaks down the Local Guides point distribution.
The number of points a user accumulates determines their Local Guide level, of which there are 10. At level 4 (250 cumulative points), the user will have a Local Guides badge next to their name on Maps. Google also offers rewards and perks for those who climb the ranks. Details are unclear, but Google says it offers “early access to Google features and special perks from partners.”
Many people also seem to ask, “are Google Local Guides paid for their services?” As far as we can tell, the program is voluntary and the rewards listed above are the only things Local Guides can get from Google.
How To Get Google Local Guides to Your Business
It’s difficult to spot a Local Guide in person unless you recognize their face based on their profile image from Google. The only way to get eventual recognition from a Local Guide is to treat all your customers like one.
This starts with a Google My Business listing that has accurate information and is up-to-date, which can be achieved with local SEO software. To help increase online visibility even before a Local Guide visits your locations, you should be proactive and engaging whether it’s through asking for reviews or learning how to respond to negative reviews.
Having a dedicated plan for review response and generation not only helps boost customer retention numbers; it can also pave the way for an organic customer acquisition experience. The social proof provided by your satisfied customers through their online reviews attracts even more people to your brand and eventually Local Guides will take notice and want the experience themselves.
The Power of Google Local Guides
In short, having a Google Local Guide interact with your listing can positively impact your brand. It shows that one of Google’s highly trusted sources took time to give your brand a shot, which can raise your online reputation within your industry.
However, this hinges on the fact that your brand meets the virtual and physical expectations that you set. Providing the correct online information coupled with a top-notch experience at any location makes a Local Guide happy, which means more customers and a chance to further improve the customer experience.