Become a Local Guide
As a business owner reviews from customers can be a curse or a blessing depending on your outlook. Whatever your personal view of the reviews you get there is no doubt that a) they are here to stay and b) they are getting increasingly important in terms of building trust with customers and in ranking factors for search.
Google has recently introduced an incentive scheme to encourage more views to be included on the Google My Business listing. More on that shortly but I want to revisit why its important from the customer perspective.
It has been known for some time that Google itself places great stock in customer reviews particularly those entered onto a business Google My Business listing.
The Importance of Google Reviews
A local search for a restaurant returns 7 suggestions in the 7-pack information panel some of which catch the eye more than the others. For me at least there are several candidates here based on the star rating which is based on the average review score. The one example that even though it has 4 reviews virtually disappears from the results amongst those gold stars. Which would you click on?
Well you don’t even have to click on any of the links to get further information.Just hover over the one you fancy and out will pop more information.
I always love it when the one that’s in the top position is the one with a See Inside Google Maps Business View tour. Purely coincidental or maybe not. Its not the first time that this happens. But I digress.
Look at the extra information and you can see it is dominated by information useful to someone thinking of booking a meal. Notice the map for directions, the tours -inside and outside, but also previews of the reviews left for the business.
So here’s the thing- The more information I can see and get here will undoubtedly influence whether I choose that business over any other in the 7 pack. How likely am I to do more searching?
Think that the target market is increasingly people using mobiles and tablets and will within a short time make contact with the business (over 80% within an hour of making the search) so its unlikely they will search too much more.
So Google wants reviews of your business. It is updating its algorithm to take account of what people say and adding that to search results, maps and affecting your web ranking. So it’s keen for you to ask customers for reviews. And now it is encouraging people to become Local Guides or in other words prolific reviewers.
So what are Local Guides Google describes them as “with Local Guides, you join a global community of explorers who write local reviews on Google. As you write more reviews, you access more levels of benefits available only to Local Guides. Millions of people rely on reviews like yours to decide where to go and what to do, so you help others by writing local reviews on Google”
Ans as you write more reviews you progress through levels unlocking benefits as you go.
There are a number of rules that reviewers need to be aware of and business owners themselves can join the programme but must not violate the rules. Soliciting reviews for a particular business or self-promotion (through discounts, etc.) to Local Guides in any capacity is prohibited, including but not limited to online and offline Local Guides community activities, events, and forums. Individuals found to be violating this prohibition may be expelled from Local Guides.
In conclusion it is clear that reviews are becoming even more important and we can provide advice on how to handle reviews, bot positive and negative. But this is not something you can ignore for much longer. because be sure of this your customers and competitors won’t be.