Google Local Guides is a cool way of helping your local community AND learning more about what Google looks for in their business listings. I joined a few years ago and really enjoy adding my voice to the general concensus.

What is Google Local Guides?

Google Local Guides is a membership program that uses crowdsourcing to gain information for their listings. The program is free to join, and they occasionally add incentives for participation. Google does this to gain more information for their mapping services.

How do I join?

The program is free to join, and the easiest way to do so is to be logged into your Gmail account then go here and register.

How do I participate?

Review stuff. Review your local gas station, your local chain restaurant, your local plumber. Just go on and give them stars and a good, honest review. I usually give good reviews, unless their service is notably bad (like the restaurant I dined in last night; ugh!). Photos are good as well. Photos that give others an idea of what to expect; so for a restaurant, I take photos of the interior, the salad bar (if there is one), the stage (ditto), the meals we had, the view, the parking, etc. Anything that others (or I) would like to know about, I try to photograph and add.

You can also help with editing info, or changing it. Google occasionally asks specific info (is this location easily seen from a main road? is there free parking?) and you can suggest changes in basic info. BUT please note that this is a double-edged sword: while info you submit can be helpful to others in your community, it can also be changed on YOUR listing, so make sure you look at your listing occasionally to make sure this hasn’t happened without your knowledge.

Are there incentives for me participating?

Yes, but no. There are occasionally incentives (three months of a newpaper subscription, movie tickets, etc.) but in general, no. At this point, it’s more of the fun of helping local businesses. Every now and then they send you a small item for your participation, but I wouldn’t count on it.

(You can earn “badges” and “levels”, but at this point that’s it. Always subject to change, of course; this is Google!)

What is the value for my business?

By joining Local Guides, you learn more about Google My Business listings, which should help you manage your own listing. How might you learn? To write a review, you usually have to look up the business; by seeing what others have on their listing, you learn to adjust your listing. So for example, if a restaurant is called Pari Indian Restaurant, you know immediately that it’s a restaurant serving Indian food. But if your grooming business’s listing is Bob’s Beagle, you can use the restaurant’s idea to change your listing to Bob’s Beagle Pet Grooming.

A warning

Google My Business listings are good things, for businesses and for Google (more eyes to stay on their platform). But there are a few things you should be aware of. The biggest of which was mentioned above: your listing can be changed if an edit is suggested and enough of the community agrees with it. In other words, you (the listing owner) are not necessarily TOLD that your info will change. So you should keep an eye on your listing, checking it every now and then.

Also, remember that Local Guides is based on community trust, and all photos and reviews are overseen by Google. So with that being said,

  1. Don’t review your own business; it looks spammy.
  2. Don’t pay or otherwise incent others to review you. Google will find out and it won’t go well.
  3. Stay away from placing a bad review on competitors’ listings. Again, Google will find out and you don’t want that. If you feel someone has placed a fake review on your page, this article lists how to request that Google remove it.

Bottom Line

Participation in the Google Local Guides program is a great way to help your community, and by extension, your business. You see tons of Google Business Listings, and are asked questions about those businesses. By seeing those, you’ll learn how to edit or update your listing to get the most traffic.

To request a custom review of your Google My Business listing, which will include a list of new tools you should take advantage of, please email me or call or text me.