Local Marketing

The Google Local Guide program: Does it help your rankings?

Are Google Maps Local Guides a good thing for local businesses, or are they poorly incentivized?

Quick Summary
  • The Google Local Guide program gets people to contribute to Google Maps and Google Business Profiles with photos, reviews and up-to-date information.
  • There’s a points system which entitles Local Guides to benefits, which some say incentivizes users to post reviews without properly thinking them through.
  • Semrush’s Listing Management positions your business both for higher rankings and a better user experience, which helps you attract good reviews from Google Local Guides.

What is the Google Local Guide program?

Google Local Guides is an incentive program that encourages people to contribute useful information and reviews to Google Business Profiles.

There are currently more than 150 million Google Maps Local Guides posting reviews, adding photos, answering questions, and suggesting updates.

Users earn points for their contributions, which unlock different levels, benefits and recognition within the Google Local Guides community.

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Google Maps Local Guides can also participate in community forums, attend Google-hosted events, and even get early access to new Google features and products.

Get noticed: Google Local Guides are potential ambassadors for your local business, so you want to make the best possible impression. Get your Google Business Profile up to scratch with Semrush’s Listing Management tool, the all-in-one local SEO tool for higher rankings and better reviews.

How does Google Local Guides work?

Consumer-generated reviews and content help users work out which businesses are worth their money and who they can trust; the Google Local Guide program is really just a bit of recognition for people that take the time to make local search more useful.

Making a contribution to the Google Maps ecosystem is pretty straightforward, whether you have a Google Local Guides profile or not. All you need to do is open the Google Maps app and click on the “Contribute” button.

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But if you want your activity to start racking up points and benefits on the Google Local Guide platform, you’ll need to sign up.

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Once you’ve selected your city and agreed to the terms, you’ll start earning points for every contribution you make.

Can you earn money as a Google Maps Local Guide?

The more a Google Maps Guide contributes to the platform, the more rewards they can earn, but this never involves cash.

In fact, any cash or discount incentive encouraging people to leave you a Google review is frowned upon, and can possibly result in penalties. And it’s the Google Local Guide community that are the most likely to report you for it.

Instead, the program works best as a community of contributors who love discovering new places and sharing their opinions. Sometimes they even meet up in the real world at special get-togethers.

Google Maps Guides are rewarded with a different number of points for each action they take:

  • Post a review = 10 points
  • Post a review over 200 characters = 20 points
  • Leave a star rating = 1 point per rating
  • Upload a photo = 5 points per photo
  • Add a photo tag = 5 points per tag
  • Upload a video = 7 points per video
  • Respond to Q&As = 3 points per response
  • Make an edit - 5 points per edit
  • Add a place = 15 points per place
  • Add a road = 15 points per road
  • Check a fact = 1 point per fact
  • Publish a list of places = 10 points per list
  • Add a description to a list = 5 points per description

Once a user reaches level 4, they unlock their first Local Guide badge, which appears next to their profile on reviews.

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Level 10 is the top tier for users that have earned 100,000+ points.

Some Google Maps Local Guides may receive other special perks from Google, but the search engine offers no clear indication as to what those benefits might be.

Does the Google Local Guide program help with local SEO?

Semrush’s 2021 Local SEO Rankings Study revealed that the quantity of reviews matters just as much as the average star rating, if not more.

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So it stands to reason that Google Maps Guides actively boosting the number of reviews for local businesses can only be a good thing for those looking to improve their rankings.

However, with Google Local Guides incentivized to post as many reviews as possible, there’s an argument that some submit just to boost their own levels, rather than sharing useful feedback with the community.

If you’ve received a review that doesn't seem genuine, look into the Local Guide’s profile and check for unusual behavior like posting the same thing on multiple GBPs. If you suspect the reviewer isn’t the real deal, you can report them to Google through the search engine’s Help Center .

But Google Local Users are encouraged to submit specific reviews and high-quality images, risking removal from the program if they engage in any spammy behavior.

Negative reviews for otherwise popular businesses don’t happen that often, and it’s better to focus on drowning them out with positive reviews through a strong review generation campaign.

Five stars: Overall, the Google Local Guide program is a positive thing as the vast majority of users are only reviewing businesses they have genuinely interacted with. Reviews are great for your local SEO, but you’ll need to stay on top of getting back to them all. Use Semrush’s Listing Management to consolidate your client testimonials into one handy interface and thank them all more efficiently.

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How to get Google Local Guides’ attention with Semrush’s Listing Management

Google Local Guides are going to have a much easier time contributing to your Google Maps presence if your business has a strong online presence.

So to benefit from the Google Local Guide program, you’re going to want to do everything you can to rank well and make a great first impression. Fortunately, helping you do that is something Semrush’s Listing Management excels at.

Boost your rankings

Google Local Guides are likely looking for the best in local businesses, and those are the ones that tend to come out top in Google’s local pack and in Maps.

But to build an effective strategy to improve your local rankings, you’re going to need a clear view of where you stand currently, as well as what your competitors are up to.

Semrush’s Listing Management helps you make all the right moves to boost your rankings, from effortless listings distribution to review management–and it tracks your positions in cool visualizations too!
The Heatmap feature of Semrush’s Listing Management tool

Reply to all your reviews

If you want to make a good impression with a Google Maps Guide who has taken the time to review your business, it’s important that you get back to them with a polite reply.

But with reviews coming in from multiple platforms, it can get a bit complicated to keep track of them all and respond in a timely manner.

Bring your reviews into one handy interface with Semrush’s Listing Management, which even allows you to respond to Facebook and Google reviews without having to leave the tool.
The interface for replying to both Google Business Profile and Facebook reviews in Semrush’s Listing Management tool

Track your average star rating

Attracting Google Local Guides to your business should lead to more reviews–and better quality ones at that.

But if you do get negative reviews, it’s important to take any feedback on board and see if it can be used to improve operations and reduce the risk of a poor rating in the future.

Track how well your business is doing on its journey to the number one spot with the Review Progress feature of Semrush’s Listing Management, which simplifies your data into one attractive graphic.
Review Progress as shown in Semrush’s Listing Management tool

Make sure they can find you

Incorrect information in your Google Business Profile, or any other business listing for that matter, is likely to knock stars off any rating from a Google Local Guide.

If a Google Local Guide ends up at the wrong address or can’t get through on the phone, they’ll have had a pretty poor experience before they’ve even made contact.

Make sure all your listings are showing up correctly, with up-to-date information and zero inconsistencies. Semrush’s Listing Management monitors the web for errors like this, letting you suppress them fast.
Possible duplicates ready to be suppressed in Semrush’s Listing Management tool
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