In just a few short years online reviews of restaurants, local stores and other establishments have become an indispensable tool used by millions of consumers and businesses every day.  And until now, a handful of websites including Yelp, Yahoo Local and a few others have dominated the lead role.  This followed suit with specialty/dedicated websites like Angie's List, Trip Advisor and countless others.

It's understandable that Google appears to have stepped back to see how the experiment went. But as evidenced by their launch of enhanced Google Local Guides, it's clear that the concept of online business reviews won't be going away anytime soon.

What Makes Google Local Guides Different?

One of the first things you notice--and this does not take long--is that Google is taking a direct aim at Yelp.  Yelpers are not shy in embracing their title, and it's possible that Local Guides is hoping to entice the competition with new titles and enhanced review capabilities.  Let's review a few of the key features.

Love it, Hate It Indicator

On the review side, few things have changed, though Google has introduced a handful of new review-based features.  One such enhancement includes a Love it/Hate it meter, which allows you to rate your experience in slightly greater detail.  Whereas Yelp offers a five-star system, Google Local Guides operates on more of a 1-10 scale.

Point-earning System

The most significant change has come in the form of a new point-based system, which offers their "Local Guides" five distinct levels that are achieved based on activity.  It's a bit too complex for this short article, so we're not going to explain everything here.  But you can read about Local Guide Points to get a better idea of how the reward system is structured.

In short, each time you review a business, upload a photo, answer a question or any number of other actions, you're awarded points that accumulate.  Each tier of points-reached results in the unlocking of various Google features, including newsletters, early product views, enhanced Drive storage and user other perks.

If you'd like to learn more about Google Local Guides, or how to make sure that your business information is accurate and ready for an increased audience, give me a call for information.  I offer a full range of online marketing and website services, and can be reached at 585-478-2331.