It’s no secret that online reviews are an essential part of every local SEO strategy, but did you know that who writes your Google business reviews will be a search ranking factor as well? That’s right, as Google continues to grow their Local Guides platform, you will see increasing similarities to a community like Yelp. Local Guides are described as a community where people can share favorites spots in their city and find new friends, all while accumulating special benefits along the way. Going forward this looks to be Google’s answer to fake reviews, which cause local spam listings that infuriate many business owners.

Why Local Guides Matter?

Local SEO has been dealing with spam, especially when it comes to Google business listings. Fake reviews have been partly to blame for how dishonest business owners are trying to manipulate Google’s local search algorithm. The hope is that Local Guides will help to combat this mockery of the system. While that statement may seem to be a little over the top, this is great news for business owners who play by the rules. Remember where your business ranks in the local listings can be the difference in your overall sales at the end of the year.

With the move towards Local Guides, Google is hoping that this crowd sourcing approach will improve the accuracy of Google Maps. For example, every year thousands of businesses close their doors, yet their Google business listings stay live. While you can understand why this would be the last thing on a business owner’s mind as they are going out of business, the reality is that it’s hurting the accuracy of Google Maps. This is where Google Local guides can help out. As they visit local businesses in each of their cities, they can help contribute the most up-to-date information about each place they visit.

Each Local Guide will be able to contribute information like images and reviews to each location. They also will be able to provide info like updated hours of operation, if a business has moved or closed for good. If you are someone who has gone to a business location only to find out it’s not open, then you know what that frustrating moment feels like.

Check out this video below to learn more about Google Local guides.


How Will This Help Google Business Reviews

It is common practice now for most people to check out the reviews of a business before trying it for the first time. Say you are looking for a Brazilian steakhouse in Washington DC and you stumble across a listing for Fogo de Chão and want to make sure it’s worth your money and time. Most people will go straight to the review section, to see what people are saying. As you read through each one, there are certain reviews that stand out and make you wonder if they are fake or real.

The advantage of Local Guides is that users will have to truly engage and be an active member to increase their value as a guide. There are many incentives along the way to keep Local Guides engaged in this platform, but hopefully most importantly will be each users reputation, that he or she has the power to share new places with someone else.

As local SEO continues to evolve, the Google algorithm will start to place more value on a review from a level 4 Local Guide instead of someone leaving a review for the first time as a level 1 member. Hopefully this provides some hope for local businesses out there that are competing with dishonest businesses that are pay for fake reviews. For more information on how to get reviews for your business, send us a message or call us at (202) 683-6881.

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