As a business owner, you know reviews and fresh content are essential to your success.
Suppose you’re passionate about promoting your business. In that case, you likely spend a lot of time creating new blog articles, crafting social media posts, or developing video content to keep your audience engaged.
But there’s another, more passive promotion method that can help grow your business and boost your local search results: Google Local Guides.
Launched in 2015, Google Local Guides—also known as Google Guides—took over where Google Cities left off. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the closest comparison is the Yelp! Elite Squad.
Google Guides allows users to add reviews and other content in exchange for various perks ranging from storage space to clothing.
Since its launch, the Google Guides community has proved hugely popular. There are 120 million local guides, spanning 24,000 cities and towns.
There are several potential benefits of Google Guides for your business and its online visibility.
Let’s take a closer look at the Guides system.
What Are Google Guides?
The idea behind Google Guides is simple. It uses user-generated content (UGC) to enrich the information available on Google Maps.
The survey revealed that profiles with more images receive increased clicks, queries, and inquiries for directions.
Let’s look at the stats. Businesses with over one hundred images received:
520% more calls than average
2,717% more direction requests
1,065% more website clicks
In addition, the research suggests several search benefits from image-rich Google My Business profiles.
Businesses with more than 100 images received:
960% more search views
3459% more map reviews
1038% more direct searches
Although Google Guides and Google My Business are different products, they’re closely correlated, with both providing information for Google Maps.
This insight means the more detailed information about your business on Google Maps, the higher the likelihood consumers will find you online—and offline.
The Ability to Keep Your Profile Updated and Accurate
As we explained at the start, Google awards points for editing listings.
Making sure your details are updated is imperative because inaccurate information such as out-of-date phone numbers or an old address reduces the likelihood a customer will find your business offline.
Besides editing listings for errors, Google Guides can correct omissions. This added detail is essential in attracting new customers.
Statistics from Google show that 67% of your listing visitors would not feel the needto conduct further research if the profile includes essential information such as:
The same study shows that 41% of users who come across an incomplete profile would continue with their research and leave the business’s profile, possibly depriving the business of an opportunity to gain a new customer.
High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.
Additionally, research from Moz confirms the importance of online reviews to SEO. Their 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors report found reviews account for15% of local ranking factors.
Dealing With Negative Reviews
No matter how dedicated you are or how well you run your business, getting a negative review at some point is almost inevitable. It can hurt you personally, and you may be concerned that it can harm your professional reputation.
Let’s try to put this fear to rest.
Despite what you may think,your business needs negative reviews. Negative reviews allow consumers to make informed decisions. They also enable buyers to understand what could go wrong during a transaction, helping manage their expectations.
Instead of worrying about potential low reviews, your best approach is to positively and objectively respond to reviews.
Does the reviewer have a valid point?
Is it an issue you can address to make the experience better for the next customer?
All that said, there’s one type of negative comment that may concern you more than any other: the fake review.
Unfortunately, getting unwarranted negative feedback removed from Google Guides isn’t as easy as it could be. If the review violates Google’s terms, it will likely be removed.
But there’s no reporting option for fake reviews.
The best option may be to approach a Google Guides moderator. However, that doesn’t solve the problem of potential reputational damage over fake reviews.
Business owners can expect to, but this process is often time-consuming and frustrating for business owners who’ve experienced it.
How to Get Google Guides to Engage with You
You now know the benefits of Google Guides for your business. But how do you get them to find you and engage with you?
If you want to get more actively involved, that’s an option.
Here’s how to approach it.
Take Part in Meetups
Businesses are welcome to partner with local guides for meetups, and even offer special discounts to them. Getting to know local guides is an excellent way for your business to engage with them and build relationships.
However, you’ll want to make sure that your company and the Guide adhere to Google policies. This means:
Local Guides mustn’t accept sponsorship in return for a positive review
Guides can’t accept payment for hosting the meetup
if your business sponsors the meetup or provides goods or services, Google Guides must clarify this in their meetup descriptions.
Begin a conversation with your shoppers about reviews.
Make leaving feedback easy.
Share positive reviews.
Respond to online feedback.
Google Guides can help you attract new interest in your business. But you may be unaware of the potential advantages of being profiled by local guides.
Businesses with an increased amount of user-generated content (UGC) stand to benefit from increased consumer confidence in their brand, enhanced trust from Google and potentially improved local search rankings.
As a result, your business may experience an increased number of queries, enhanced visibility for your goods and services, and more visits to your offline store.
Do you have experience with Google Guides? Feel free to comment below.