Google Maps is a useful platform for business owners and consumers. People use this service to identify places that have the services they need. For business owners, it’s another platform where they can advertise their goods and services to the population. To make Google Maps more useful and accurate, Google has the Google Local Guides program which has more than 120 million members in 24,000 locations globally.
Though most users won’t notice Google’s Local Guide Program, the members improve the service by providing reviews, images, and other content about local businesses and places. Google recently announced a test plan where Google Local Guides can interact more directly with people on Google Maps.
In a post announcing the program, Google stated, “People in Bangkok, Delhi, London, Mexico City, New York, Osaka, San Francisco, São Paulo, and Tokyo will soon see top Local Guides featured in the For You tab of the Google Maps app. When you follow one of these Local Guides, their recommendations will be surfaced to you in Google Maps, so you can get inspired with ideas of things to do and places to go.”
By making these recommendations easier to find, Google is making its Google Local Guides team more effective and useful for consumers. In the past, the review and recommendations were there, but they were harder to locate.
Here are two examples from Google on how the program works traditionally, “If you’re in Bangalore, Melvin John is a Local Guide whose reviews and recommendations will guide you through the city’s microbrewery scene. And if you’ve used Google Maps in Tokyo, Ayaka Ohkawa’s popular photography has probably helped you explore the city’s landmarks, cuisine, and culture.”
These are valuable features for people using Google Maps to navigate a new city or to help someone discover something new in their own backyard. By placing the recommendations from in center on the Google Maps app, the work from the Google Local Guide team can lead to more foot traffic and sales for local small business owners.
The way the system is set up adds more social elements to Google Maps. Users will be able to follow specific Local Guides and the user will see content from that guide in the “For You” section. When users follow a Local Guide, they’ll see that person’s recommendations. It’s somewhat like the local business follow feature in Google My Business and the lesser-known follow Lists feature in Maps, which can be found in the “Your Places” section of Google Maps.
While this feature is extremely useful for consumers, it’s not clear how business owners could use this feature to improve their exposure on Google Maps. There doesn’t seem to be any way for a business to request a review that will be used by Google Local Guides. Until Google provides business owners with a way to interact with reviewers, the best thing to do is to continue making good products and maintain good customer service. These guides are always looking for new places to try, so it’s only a matter of time before they reach your establishment.
For more recent news about changes and updates to Google, read this article on Google’s plan to test speed badges for websites on Google Chrome.