Google local guides are a great way to find local businesses and services. It makes things easier for both locals and newcomers quickly get a handle on what’s available in a specific area.
On the surface, it seems like a great way to help others discover new places, but many people are unaware of a dark side of Google local guides.
This article reveals everything you should know.
Let’s dig a little deeper:
What is Google Local Guide?
Google local guides are community explorers who used to contribute information such as reviews, photos, add or edit places, answer questions, and check facts on Google maps.
In other words, you can see them as community volunteers who help others discover new places and businesses.
Anyone can take advantage of the information that Google local guide provides to get precise knowledge of a place. It allows them to get into what they are looking for without much effort.
Since Google map is available in more than 40 countries and languages, anyone can be a local guide and start contributing information that they know better. As a reward for their contribution, members of the community earn points and rewards such as special badges, storage on Google Drive, and early access to Google’s products and features etc.
Now that we know what Google local guide is and what they do, let’s get more insights about this platform in the following section.
How Does Local Guides Improve the Business Visibility?
For businesses, having a strong presence on Google Maps is essential for attracting customers, and having accurate and up-to-date information is critical to the success of the business. This is where Local Guides can help.
Here are some ways that Local Guides can help businesses:
Provide up-to-date information: Local Guides can update the information on a business’s Google Maps listing, such as the hours of operation, contact information, and website URL. This ensures that potential customers have access to the most current information about the business.
Improve the business’s online reputation: Local Guides can leave reviews and ratings for the business on Google Maps. Positive reviews can help attract new customers and improve the business’s overall reputation.
Increase visibility on Google Maps: Local Guides can add photos of the business to their Google Maps listing, which can help make the listing more attractive and increase its visibility to potential customers.
Provide feedback: Local Guides can provide feedback to business owners about their listing on Google Maps, such as suggestions for improving their listing or correcting inaccuracies.
Engage with the local community: Local Guides are often active members of their local community, and can help businesses connect with potential customers in the area.
Benefits of Being a Google Local Guide
To make this program more interactive, Google designed a 10-level point-based reward system for the contributors. It also provides special badges to contributors based on their contributions.
For instance, at 250 points, you will be promoted to level 4, and Google will show the local guides badge beside your name on maps.
However, you aren’t going to make extra cash by contributing info about places on Google maps. And there is no physical reward that Google offers to those virtual guides.
You can take it as a passion for helping people find places like restaurants, coffee shops, and stores by marking their location on Google.
To keep contributors encouraged, Google introduces new levels and badges over time and offers benefits such as:
- Early access to new Google products and features
- Connect with other Local Guides
- Ability to boost local businesses’ online presence
- Access to Google Drive storage
Dark Side of Google Local Guides
Being a Google local guide contributor doesn’t have any demerits, but it does have some dark sides that you should know about.
Although they aren’t any major ones, still, to sum it up, some are listed here:
Exploitation of Users’ Data
Google can use the information that local guides provide about themselves and their location for commercial purposes without consent.
Compromised Integrity of Information
Sometimes local guides can provide inaccurate or biased information and reviews to mislead consumers and potentially affect the reputation of the business.
Lack of Accountability
There is a lack of accountability for the information shared by local guides meaning that false or misleading information can remain unquestionable.
Limited Compensation for Contributors
Although they offer some parks and recognition for the contributors, more is needed for the time and effort required to be a part of the program.
Providing information about their location and sharing activities could expose local guides to privacy concerns.
How do You Protect Your Brand from Fake Google reviews?
As a business owner, it can be frustrating to receive fake or fraudulent Google reviews. Not only do they skew your overall rating, but they can also misrepresent your business and damage your reputation. Here are some ways to protect your brand from fake Google reviews:
Respond promptly to all reviews: Whether positive or negative, it’s essential to respond to all reviews promptly. Responding shows that you care about your customers’ feedback, and it can also help identify fake reviews. Fake reviews often lack specific details or mention things that didn’t happen. Responding to the review can help you verify its authenticity.
Flag fraudulent reviews: Google provides a feature for businesses to flag reviews they believe are fraudulent. If you believe a review is fake, you can flag it as such. Google will then investigate the review and remove it if it violates their guidelines.
Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews: The best way to counteract fake reviews is to have genuine positive reviews. Encourage your satisfied customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business page. Make it easy for them by providing a direct link or by asking them to leave a review at the end of their transaction.
Monitor your reviews: Keep an eye on your reviews regularly. If you notice a sudden spike in negative reviews, it may be a sign of a fake review attack. Respond to these reviews promptly and flag any that you believe are fraudulent.
Take legal action: If the fake review is particularly damaging or malicious, you may want to consider taking legal action. Consult with a lawyer to see what your options are.
While being a Google local guide has some benefits, it is also important to be aware of the potential drawbacks of this program. Before you decide to join the program, it is important to consider the dark sides of Google’s local guide.
In the above discussion, we have illustrated the program’s drawbacks to help you make an informed decision. By shining a light on these issues, we encourage a more responsible and transparent system that benefits users and local businesses.
Do Google Local Guides get Anything?
Local guides get points and receive rewards for their contribution. Currently, there are 10 levels, and Google offers a variety of rewards, such as Google Drive storage, early access to Google products and new features, etc., to local guides.
Why are Local Guides Removed?
Google guides can be removed for a variety of reasons; for instance,
- Violating Google’s community guidelines
- When you participate in local guides as a business
- Posting duplicate reviews or photos
- Providing inaccurate or misleading information
- When you aren’t contributing as a local guide for an extended period
Who is the Highest Google Local Guide?
Someone can be the highest Google guide by reaching 100,000 points or level 10.
Can You Stop Being a Local Guide on Google?
If you want to exit the program or stop being a local guide on google, you can do it from the local guide opt-out page.