February 9, 2015

Google's Local Guides Feature Lets Reviewers Level Up!

By Megan G.

“Everyone’s a critic” is a statement that has been validated by the Internet.  Anybody from anywhere can manage a review blog or put their two cents into sites like Google Maps and Yelp.  The liberated voice of the people can be a blessing and a curse, especially when it comes to online interactions.  You get a blend of nice, productive input along with a ton of uncalled for rant-fests.

When it comes to other online business reviews, it can be tough to winnow the culture connoisseurs from nasty, one-star trolls.  Luckily, Google has implemented a new program that attaches a badge of credibility to its reviewer community.

Local Guides:  A Competitor for Yelp’s Elite Squads

The most recent Google Maps update on the Android platform comes with a program called Local Guides, a reboot of Google’s City Experts.  The program invites you to “help others and support businesses by writing local reviews on Google.”  Google is indeed one of the champions of local business owners, and the new Local Guides can help improve small business visibility in a positive way.

Local Guides directly competes with Yelp’s Elite program.  It has some similar features, but spiced up with a distinct Google flavor.  As the company is dedicated to providing relevant information to the world, Local Guides not only offers an opportunity for businesses to shine in their local communities, but also to become relevant around the world.  The official Google program encourages participants to “celebrate places near and far from home” and “connect with a global community of explorers.”  Local Guides combines the local and the global in a way that only Google can.   

City Experts Evolved:  Local Guides’ Level System 

That’s right, my fellow nerds!  Google is now giving you the chance to level up!  Unlike Yelp’s Elites, who must be chosen specifically by Yelp, Local Guides allows anyone to become a member through an easy-as-pie signup process.

Local Guides’ member benefits become available immediately at Level 1, which I’ve deemed the “Initiate” phase.  You gain access to the Local Guides newsletter, which informs users about program features, the latest news, and member-only contests.  See?  You’re already part of the cool crowd without a single review, and can start to learn the ins and outs of how to be the best Local Guide possible.  More authority and benefits will come.  You just have to earn them!

After 5 reviews, you ascend to Level 2, the “Suave Schmoozer” phase and can join Google+ Hangouts with veteran reviewers and aspiring “tastemakers” like yourself.  If you’re eager to meet your fellows in person, you can schedule meet-ups and have them promoted by the Local Guides program.  You’re also eligible to test new Google products and features before the public.

Level 3, the “Very Important Person” stage, is the milestone that grants your profile the Local Guides badge at 50+ reviews.  You can join Guides’ private Google+ community, and even apply to moderate it.  In certain cities, official Local Guides are invited to exclusive events.

Finally, at a whopping 200+ reviews, users reach Level 4—the “I’m Kind of a Big Deal” stage.  In addition to all the other benefits achieved thus far, you can now be featured on the Local Guides’ social media pages:  Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and more!  You also receive a yearly thank you gift for “consistent, high quality contributions to Google Maps.”

Google Maps Reviews:  Quality versus Quantity

Other writers who’ve reported on Local guides have noticed the lack of any obvious weeding-out system for bad reviews, saying that quantity overpowers quality for the program.  I’m inclined to disagree, as quality content is the most important factor in terms of Google’s ranking system.  Judging from their advancements in web search algorithms and the human approach they take Right to be Forgotten user requests, I don’t doubt that Google will develop both technical and non-technical ways to sift through these reviews.

Local Guides provides a highly social experience for users on the Google+ platform and a more credible resource for online reviews on Google Maps.  It promotes mass participation with a fun and productive level up system.  In accordance with the theme of Google’s search engine, anyone can join the high ranks by their own hard work, and not solely from the discernment of “elite” moderators.

Have you signed up for Local Guides?  What do you think of the program?  How will this effect Google Maps and Google+ user interactions? Let us know what you think in the comments! 


  1. Replies
    1. Good morning, Anu!

      We're so glad you liked this post! Have you tried Local Guides for yourself, yet?

      Thanks for the comment,

      The Tek Team

  2. When a consumer is looking for a business or service in their local area, the internet is the method most ... SEO CompanyDallas SEONEW YorkSEO Expert. Marketing 1on1.com Dallas

    1. Hello again, Jorg!

      The Internet is certainly the most-used method in terms of consumers searching for services in the local community and beyond. Google's Local Guides program helps to connect people on both a local and global scale via Google+ Hangouts and Communities. It is an undeniably helpful tool for business owners to connect to consumers on a personal level.

      Thank you for your contribution!

      The Tek Team