Google’s “Local Guides” Encourage Yelp-Like Reviews on Mobile

In the latest update to the Google Maps app is “Local Guides,” a feature that is similar to “Yelp Elite.”

In this program, Google will reward users (“Guides”) for their quality reviews. For example, if a user writes more than 50 quality reviews, they will have access to a private Google+ community and get invites to exclusive events in select cities. And if a user provides more than 200 reviews, they will be eligible to be featured on the “Local Guides” official Google+, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. “Guides” may also be able to host special meetups, as well as moderate Google+ communities.

Google introduced “Local Guides” a month ago via a Google+ post. But according to reports, now the feature has been introduced to the Google Maps app as well.

In a similar program, Yelp rewards it users for their reviews with special badges, invites to parties, and other gifts as well through “Yelp Elite.” But in comparison, “Local Guides” seems to be more accessible to the public, as users can sign up to participate in the program as long as they have a valid Google+ account.

Joe Gizzi, strategy director at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM), thinks that compared to “Yelp Elite,” Google’s “Local Guides” program is a valuable addition to the space, as it can leverage a few Google-specific opportunities such as Google+ and Hangouts.

“The rewards program definitely positions Google to be competitive with other reviewer programs such as Yelp Elite or even Foursquare’s Experts. Google likely hopes this will boost local coverage, photography, and video for businesses globally,” Gizzi says. “What’s interesting is that the burden is on the user to host local events as a value-add. Businesses are prohibited from offering benefits to the community, though many might find value in early access to their openings or menus.”

According to Gizzi, developers may also be able to pull reviews into mobile shopping apps for search purposes. “The hope is that this rewards program will boost not only the volume but also the quality of reviews to ensure utility and reach of the service overall,” he notes.

Previously, Google ran a similar program called “City Experts,” whose members will be automatically transitioned to “Local Guides.”

As of press time, Google hadn’t responded to Search Engine Watch‘s request for further comment.

Image via Shutterstock.

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