Living in a city with a high volume of tourist traffic, I’ve come to learn a lot about the area just by eavesdropping here and there. For instance, I recently passed by a lanyard-wearing, fanny pack toting tour group the other day and I overheard the tour guide say that nearly 2,000,000 tourists visit the city every year. I also know that the rooftop bar with the best view doesn’t serve the best drinks, and that if you’re going to buy a sweetgrass basket, it’s best to skip up the road and dicker with a local vendor, rather than pay full price in the market.
It’s a fact of life that we learn a lot about an area based on what we’ve heard others say about it. In fact, when was the last time you set foot in a business without reading up on it first? Google knows you do this, and thus, last year, launched its Local Guides initiative.
What are Local Guides, Anyway?
What exactly is the Local Guides program? Essentially it replaced the City Experts Program nearly one year ago. Happy anniversary, Local Guides!
The program allows people to become expert reviewers after completing just five reviews of local establishments. Reviewers are encouraged to be unbiased, and provide constructive feedback to local businesses, rather than slamming them with criticism, even if they have a bad experience. Reviewers can also upload photos and edit location information.
In return, reviewers are offered benefits on a multi-tiered level. They may score an invite to a local event, get free swag, or free food.
The program is a bit like Yelp’s Elite Squad, with one exception being that Yelp isn’t concerned with a minimum number of reviews.
How Local Guides Affect Your Local SEO
What is the one thing that any business owner wants regarding his or her online presence? That’s right, everyone wants to be number one in a Google search. Thanks to Local Guides, that’s entirely possible for you.
Think about it. What is the first thing you do when you head out on the town in search of seafood? Do you simply perform a Google search for “seafood?” Not likely. Rather, you want the best seafood, and that’s what you’ll enter into your search, along with the location. The first couple of restaurants that pop up are the ones you pay the most attention to.
Now, imagine your restaurant receives several reviews that describe your fare as “the best seafood in New Hampshire.” You can certainly see how this would be good for your local SEO.
Ultimately, you want happy customers to be your biggest promoters.
How can you make the most of Local Guides? Here are a few tips:
- Make sure Google has the right address for your business
- Be mindful of your customer service — treat every customer as if they are a Local Guide
- Remember that negative reviews have a negative impact on SEO
- Check for duplicate entries of your business in online directories
Remember, Local Guides wield a great deal of power over your local SEO. They have the ability to create a buzz about your business, drive more traffic to your site and your door, and ultimately affect the purchasing power of potential customers.