It started a few months ago, with a simple Google Hangout with my friend and former colleague Chad Russell:
“Are you a local guide yet?”
Which was followed by his prompt reply of:
“Stop what you’re doing and sign up for Local Guides right now: https://www.google.com/local/guides/“
Little did I realize that by clicking on that link and signing up that it would influence my perspective on Google and its impact on location-based businesses. Since that day in May, I have been constantly contributing information to Google and in turn have become a Level 5 Local Guide (the highest level available).
I had had no prior knowledge of Google Local Guides, and when I clicked on the link I discovered its primary focus was to help others discover local businesses while being compensated by Google in return. As a Local SEO Strategist at my current job, this spiked my interest and I found that I had already been contributing to Google, as I had previously acquired 26 points. Immediately, I explored the options on how to acquire more points, so that I could reach the benefits of Level 5.
I quickly discovered that Local Guides had five individual categories where I could earn points. Upon further investigation, I learned that I could earn one point per business per category. I blindly started contributing, but as time has passed I feel as if I have learned how to become a more effective Local Guide for Google and as a result I have outlined what I have learned about each of the categories and helpful ideas on how to contribute below:
Depending on how detailed you wish to be, will depend on how complicated this category is. I, myself, like to be rather detailed with specifics. I go as far as to break down my reviews into five categories: Overview, Location, Price, Product/Service, and Employees and give each of these categories a score. The scores are then averaged from each of the brokendown categories and from there an overall score is given.
Places With Photos
Taking photos is probably one of simplest contributions that can be done to earn a point as a local guide. Keep in mind that you can take several photos of a business, but in the end it will only count as one whole point per business. I like to take a few photos as they are reviewing the photos in the Local Knowledge Graph. I typically try to take a photo of the exterior of the business, because sometimes the Google street view photos don’t always give the businesses the best representation. I also like to take a few photos inside, so people can know what to expect when they go in.
Places with Answers
Just like the places with photos, places with answers is a rather simple point and just like the photos, only one point is given per business, even if several questions are answered. There are a variety of questions asked, and they’re typically centered around the type of business. For example, if you visited a restaurant it may ask if they have good dessert options. The answers are limited to multiple choice and typically are answered with a yes, no, or not sure. Other general questions are asked as well such as if the business has restrooms or even handicap access.
Adding a place is probably one of the most complicated categories, especially if your community doesn’t frequently produce new businesses. Another factor to consider is the competition of other Local Guides, if they beat you to the punch, then you will obviously miss out on that point. Out of all the points I have obtained this category is the most lacking.
Sometimes information isn’t entered accurately into Google. For this reason, Google gives Local Guides an opportunity to earn a point to ensure that the information is accurate. Some of the information that can be edited with the Suggest an Edit include the Business Name, Address, Hours, Website, and Category. Sometimes I make simple changes just for an easy point. For example, I review the address and if it is missing a minimal detail such as a West or East or something like that, I just throw it in. I also will sometimes edit the name of the Business Name if it includes a few words that aren’t quite part of the business name. An example would be Little Caesars Pizza, the actual logo does not include Pizza anywhere in its title.
Ever since that fateful day that my friend Chad introduced me to Google Local Guides, I’ve been actively working at “leveling up” and as of date currently sit at 607 points at the highest level available. If you think about it, it is actually rather genius of Google to obtain all kinds of information about local businesses through user interaction based on a reward system. Because of my activeness in my contributions as a Local Guide, I have been able to influence others to contribute and my hope is that this article has both influenced and educated you as well.