Google Now Uses Points to Increase Reviews: What You Need to Know

Google has been making changes left and right when it comes to Google+ and Google Maps, and now their local review system, called Local Guides, is following suit. According to the official announcement, the Local Guides program will now allow you to share your favorite local places—essentially reviews—with others directly on a Google Map. When you sign up, you earn points based on everything that you contribute. The points unlock new products, contests, events, bonus Drive storage, and more, so you have incentive to share and then earn these points. It’s really as simple as that.

A Deeper Looking Into the Local Guides New Point System

So what exactly can you “contribute” besides reviews? You can write reviews, upload photos, update any business local information, answer questions, add a new place on the map, and more. Which of these things you choose to contribute will determine how many points you earn. Below explains what you earn based on your points:

  • Level 1 (0-4 points): Enter exclusive contests, such as new Google devices. Answering questions, fixing information, adding new places, and sharing reviews are all 1 point.
  • Level 2 (5-49 points): You will get early access to new Google products/ features.
  • Level 3 (50-199 points): Show up in the Google Maps app with an official Local Guides badge.
  • Level 4 (200-499 points): Receive a free 1 TB upgrade of your Drive storage.
  • Level 5 (500+ points): You will become eligible to apply to attend our inaugural summit in 2016 where you can network, check out the Google campus, and get the latest information about Google Maps. More details to come.

According to a Search Engine Land article, Google created a program a while ago that was created to “accelerate the acquisition of high-quality local business reviews.” In January the name was finalized as Local Guides, and now that Google is shifting away from Google+ it seems that their new points system opens up opportunities for more than just reviews.

How to Get Started With the Local Guides Point System

To get started earning points, you sign up on the official website here, make sure your Google Maps app is up to date, and then track your progress on the new Contributions tab. Below is a screenshot that shows the Contributions tab and then a screenshot that shows how it works:

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.25.51 PM

Once you click that tab, below shows what your dashboard will look like on Google Maps. I’m looking at the “Review” tab:

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.27.08 PM

As you can see, you have your points, your level, and suggestions for places to contribute (called your to-do list) all in that Contributions tab. When you share photos, you can also see your view counts change, so it’s nice to see how a photo can make a difference.

What It Means to You

In the end from a company perspective, the new point system is just another way to encourage customers to review your business. If your audience doesn’t know about the new system, it’s your job to help use that to entice people to not only review, but also add photos. You should still work to improve your engagement and review numbers, which you can learn more about here, but you can use this point system to help your case.
Once again, you can learn more on the official Local Guides website.
What do you think about the new points system for Local Guides? Do you have any plans to use the points system to improve your review and engagement rates for local traffic? Let us know your ideas in the comments below.

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