The Google Local Guide program features a global community of users that companies can engage with to support their marketing activities, build brand reputation, manage online reviews and ratings, and improve online search visibility and exposure.
While the impact of Local Guides on brand reputation management strategy is largely dependent on the quality and quantity of the contributions from the Guides, businesses can respond to these contributions and leverage the program to enhance their online presence and manage their reputation.
What is the Google Local Guide Program?
The Google Local Guides program is a community-driven initiative by Google that encourages users to contribute information about local businesses, places, and attractions. Participating users are called Local Guides, and they share their knowledge and customer experiences by writing reviews, adding pictures and videos, updating information found on business listings, and answering questions about various locations on Google Maps.
Local Guides earn points for their contributions, which they can accumulate and use to unlock different levels within the program. Each level comes with various Local Guide benefits and perks, such as early access to new Google features, exclusive events, and special promotions or discounts.
The Google Local Guide program is designed to improve the accuracy and completeness of local business information on Google Maps, all while fostering a sense of community among users who are passionate about sharing their insights about and experiences of the places they visit.
By participating in the Local Guides program, users help enhance the overall quality of information available on Google Maps, making it more useful and reliable for people seeking details about businesses, landmarks, and other points of interest in different locations around the world.
How Do Customers Become a Local Guide?
Anyone with a Google account can become a Local Guide. To start making contributions, users simply have to download the Google Maps app on a mobile device or access it through a Web browser. To join the program, users can follow these steps:
- Open Google Maps and sign in with your Google account.
- Tap on the three horizontal lines in the top-left corner to open the menu.
- Scroll down and select “Your contributions.” Tap on “Join Local Guides” and follow the instructions to sign up for the program.
- Alternatively, users can sign up by visiting https://maps.google.com/localguides/.
To earn points and enjoy Google Local Guide benefits, users can score a place with ratings, describe their experience with reviews, share photos and videos, respond to questions about certain places, submit edits to help update business information, add missing places, or verify information by checking facts.
The Local Guides program is for individuals, not businesses. Contributions from businesses or business pages will not count towards Local Guides levels or benefits.
Google Local Guide Benefits and Perks
Local Guides earn points for every contribution they make on Google Maps. The more points they accumulate, the higher their Local Guides level will be. Here is a list of the types of contributions that Google Local Guides can make, alongside the corresponding number of points per contribution.
- Review: 10 points per review
- Review: with more than 200 characters: 10 bonus points per review
- Rating: 1 point per rating
- Photo: 5 points per photo
- Photo tags: 3 points per tag
- Video: 7 points per video
- Caption (In photo update): 10 points per caption
- Answer: 1 point per answer
- Respond to Q&As: 3 points per response
- Edit: 5 points per edit
- Place added: 15 points per place added
- Road added: 15 points per road added
- Fact checked: One point per checked fact
Levels range from 1 to 10, and as users reach higher levels, they may unlock additional benefits. At Level 4, users will be able to unlock their first Local Guides badge, which helps their contributions to places get noticed.
Google Local Guide benefits and perks include early access to features and services on Google Maps, discounts on Google products, invitations to special events, parties, and meetups, eligibility to test new Google products and services before public release, and thank-you gifts for high-quality contributions to Google Maps. Some Local Guides even receive additional Google Drive storage as a perk.
How the Local Guide Program Contributes to Local Business Listings
Google Local Guides contribute to the accuracy and completeness of local business information on Google Maps, making it easier for others to find what they’re looking for, while also helping support businesses by enhancing their discoverability and search visibility.
In short, Local Guides help make Google Maps, an important business discovery platform, work better.
By actively participating in the Local Guides program, contributors play an important role in enhancing the quality of information available on Google Maps. This, in turn, benefits both businesses and users looking for reliable and accurate details about local establishments. The program relies on the efforts of Local Guides to keep local business listings (officially called Google Business Profiles) comprehensive and helpful.
Google Local Guide: Implications on Reputation Management
The type and quality of contributions that Local Guides make can work in your favor and support your online reputation management strategy. Here are some of the ways the Local Guide program impacts the reputation of businesses, no matter the size and category.
Detailed Reviews and Ratings
Positive reviews written by Local Guides can help enhance your brand reputation, while negative feedback can drive away potential customers.
Interestingly, Local Guides’ reviews and ratings tend to show up at the top of listings because the content is usually longer and includes photos and videos; they also contribute to the overall star rating displayed prominently on Google Business Profiles and Maps listings, which can influence potential customers’ decisions.
Online Search Visibility and Exposure
Google Business Profiles with a steady stream of positive reviews and a substantial amount of information provided by Local Guides may see an increase in visibility on Google Maps and other Google services. This improved visibility can attract more potential customers.
Moreover, businesses that attract active participation from Local Guides may experience higher levels of user engagement on Google Maps. Detailed reviews, helpful information, and updated details about a business can encourage users to interact more with the Business Profile to ask questions, get directions, book an appointment, and more.
Brand Trust and Credibility
Content generated by Local Guides can also contribute to your brand credibility and trustworthiness. Users often rely on reviews from real customers to make informed decisions about where to go and what services to use. By having user-generated content published by Local Guides on your Google Business Profile (instead of promotional brand content), you can inspire greater consumer trust and confidence.
Local SEO Impact
Whether it’s a review, a set of photos and videos, answers to Q&As, or image captions, content generated by Local Guides can positively impact your business locations’ search engine optimization (SEO) performance. If your Google Business Profile features more detailed and positive content from Local Guides, you may be able to rank higher in local search results.
Brands that actively engage with the Local Guides community may foster a sense of community support. This engagement can lead to more positive interactions with customers and potentially create brand advocates within the Local Guides community.
Customer Experience Management
While positive reviews can be beneficial, negative reviews from Local Guides can also provide valuable customer feedback for companies as they try to identify areas for improvement. Responding to reviews, especially constructive criticism, can show that a business is proactive in addressing customer concerns. More importantly, unsolicited feedback shared by vocal customers can serve as a valuable source of insight into how to deliver better customer experiences.
How to Drive Google Local Guides to Your Business
Spotting a Google Local Guide in person is tricky unless you recognize their face from their profile photo. The key to getting recognition from a Local Guide is to treat all your customers like one, working to exceed their expectations and deliver great experiences.
Here are some keys to successfully engaging with Google Local Guides:
- Manage your Google Business Profile. Optimize your Business Profile with correct, complete, and up-to-date business information. At the top of the list of updated items should be the business name, address, operating hours, and phone number.
- Respond to reviews. Local Guides (and, in general, all of your customers) care about being responded to. In fact, according to InMoment research, 53% of customers expect a review response within 7 days. But as much as 63% say that they have never heard back from a business after leaving a review. Timely review responses can immediately improve consumer perception of your business.
- Don’t incentivize or buy reviews. Contributions from Local Guides as well as from your customers should happen organically. Don’t buy Google reviews or get into the practice of creating incentivized reviews just to capture more feedback. Both methods violate the Google review policy, and government agencies and regulators like the FTC are cracking down on companies using these methods by handing out massive financial penalties.
- Analyze Local Guides’ feedback for insights. Candid, authentic, detailed feedback from Local Guides can help your company achieve a more complete, accurate, and integrated picture of the customer experience. Text content found in reviews, in particular, holds rich information that you simply cannot ignore. Focus on how you can gather actionable insights from Local Guides’ reviews, as well as how you can address challenges based on the information available.
Drive Engagement with InMoment’s Reputation Management Software
Your company can gain a competitive edge by learning how to capitalize on content generated by the Google Local Guide program. With InMoment’s reputation management software, you can drive higher engagement levels with Local Guides, build a stronger brand reputation, achieve greater search visibility for your business locations, and leverage AI-powered technology to capture powerful customer experience insights — all from one powerful software platform.