The internet has revolutionized the way we access information and navigate our surroundings. One of the most significant developments in this area is Google Maps, a web mapping service that provides detailed geographical information, directions, and street-level imagery worldwide. To improve the quality and accuracy of its data, Google introduced the Local Guide Program, an initiative designed to encourage users to contribute their knowledge and expertise to Google Maps. This article will explore the Local Guide Program, its benefits, how it works, and how you can get involved to make a difference in your community.
A Brief History of Google Local Guides
In 2013, Google launched the Google City Experts program, an early attempt to encourage users to contribute reviews and photos to Google Maps. However, this program was limited in scope, focusing only on a few major cities and having a high threshold for participation. Recognizing the potential for a more inclusive and accessible initiative, Google rebranded the program as Google Local Guides in 2015.
Today, the Local Guide Program boasts a global community of over 100 million individuals who share their local knowledge and experiences to improve Google Maps. By answering questions, uploading photos, and posting reviews, these individuals help others navigate and discover local businesses and attractions.
Understanding the Local Guide Program
The primary purpose of the Local Guide Program is to enhance the quality and scope of information available on Google Maps. Much of the data on Google Maps is sourced from business owners through services like Google My Business, but user contributions like reviews, photos, and answers to questions are equally valuable. Google encourages participation in the Local Guide Program through a system of rewards and gamification.
Earning Points and Levels
Local Guides earn points for every contribution they make to Google Maps, with different actions earning varying amounts of points. As users accumulate points, they advance through the Local Guide levels, with each level granting access to new perks and recognition.
Reaching Level 4, for example, awards a badge that appears next to the user’s profile picture on their reviews and photos, while achieving Level 10 signifies that the user has earned over 100,000 points. This progression system encourages continued participation and improvement within the Local Guide community.
How to Earn Points in the Local Guide Program
There are several ways to earn points within the Local Guide Program, with each action designed to improve the quality and accuracy of Google Maps data.
One Point Actions
- Assign a star rating to a local business
- Answer questions and verify facts about a business
Three Point Actions
- Respond to user inquiries about a location
Five Point Actions
- Upload a photo
- Edit a place’s information
Seven Point Actions
- Share a video (up to 30 seconds in length)
Ten Point Actions
- Write a review (bonus points awarded for reviews over 200 characters)
Fifteen Point Actions
- Add missing places or roads
By participating in these activities, Local Guides contribute valuable information to Google Maps, helping users make informed decisions about where to visit and spend their time.
Rewards and Incentives for Local Guides
Initially, the Local Guide Program offered tangible rewards such as Google products, beta service access, and invites to exclusive events. However, the focus has shifted towards gamified incentives like points, badges, and achievements, as well as early access to new Google features.
Although tangible rewards may still be awarded for higher levels, the primary motivation for participation in the Local Guide Program is the satisfaction of contributing to one’s community and helping local businesses gain visibility on Google Maps. By enhancing a business’s profile with user-generated content like reviews, photos, and videos, Local Guides can boost the local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of these businesses, making them more visible in Google search results and ultimately benefiting the local economy.
Becoming a Local Guide: How to Sign Up
If you’re interested in joining the Local Guide Program and contributing to the improvement of Google Maps, the process is straightforward and accessible to anyone with a Google account.
- Signing Up Through a Browser
- Visit the Google Maps Local Guide page
- Click “Get started”
- Enter your city of residence and agree to the program rules
- Select “Become a Local Guide”
Signing Up Through the Google Maps App
- Open the Google Maps app
- Tap the profile icon in the upper-right corner
- Select “Your profile” from the pop-up menu
- Scroll down and tap “Contribute”
Congratulations, you are now a member of the Local Guide Program! To connect with other Local Guides and gain inspiration for your contributions, visit the Local Guides Connect website. For tips on becoming a Google Maps power user, check out our guide on Google Maps features and functionality.
The Local Guide Program is a testament to the power of community participation in enhancing the quality and accuracy of online information. By contributing their knowledge and expertise to Google Maps, Local Guides help users navigate their surroundings and discover the best that their communities have to offer. With its rewards system and gamification elements, the Local Guide Program encourages continued engagement and improvement, making it an invaluable resource for both Google Maps and its users.