Google Maps has become a quintessential part of our daily commute. Many rely on it to navigate familiar and unfamiliar parts of our cities and towns and discover the local neighborhood. Whether it is to know when a shop opens, whether the restaurant serves vegan food, or whether the government office is wheelchair-accessible, we use Google Maps for uses beyond just turn-by-turn navigation. And for that, we have to thank the Google Local Guides program. But what is it, and how do you sign up for it? In this article, we tell you all you need to know about the Google Local Guides program, how it affects the quality of Google Maps, and how you can become a Google Local Guide.
Google Local Guides is a global community of volunteers contributing their experiences to Google Maps. This helps build information about the local neighborhood from people on the ground, effectively crowdsourcing the service globally.
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What are Google Local Guides?
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority
Google Local Guides are people like you and me who use Google Maps frequently. What makes them unique is that they also voluntarily contribute to it. These contributions include reviews, photos, answers to questions, fact-checks, and more. They even add and edit location information on Google Maps, often becoming the first source of information for a local neighborhood.
Google Local Guides is thus best described as a global community of explorers that have been hugely influential in the success of Google Maps as a community resource beyond just turn-by-turn navigation. They are why many of us open Google Maps to discover new things around us. They help millions worldwide discover new places by voluntarily sharing their knowledge of hyperlocal experiences.
Google essentially crowdsourced the data it used to build Google Maps, attracting more users, some of whom contribute back through the Google Local Guides program to feed this feedback and development cycle. Small contributions by individuals add up on the global level to give us Google Maps the product that it now is.
How does Google’s Local Guide program work?
Google’s Local Guide program works by gamifying the feedback process on Google Maps.
Whenever you visit a place, Google Maps will prompt you for feedback about that place. This feedback can be reviews, photos, and other contributions. Most of these contributions earn you points, and the amount varies depending on the type of contribution.
These points accumulate over time, increasing your Local Guide level. Past a particular stage, you start reaping some benefits, such as exclusive badges to showcase your contribution level and even special rewards such as pins from Google, discount vouchers, and early access to new Google features.
How many points does each contribution earn?
Here’s how many points you earn with each contribution:
- One point for every rating, answer, or fact that is checked.
- Three points for every photo tag or Q&A response.
- Five points for every photo added, edit made, and description added.
- Seven points for every video added.
- 10 points for every review and eligible list published. 10 bonus points for reviews that are more than 200 characters long.
- 15 points for every place or road added to the map.
The numbers may appear tiny, but they add up over time as the points do not expire. However, points may decrease if the content violates Google’s content policy. They may also reduce if the business has permanently closed down and removed from Google Maps, removing your contributions in the process.
How many points are needed for Local Guides levels?
As you accumulate points, you reach higher levels for Local Guides:
- Level 1: Zero points
- Level 2: 15 points
- Level 3: 75 points
- Level 4: 250 points
- Level 5: 500 points
- Level 6: 1,500 points
- Level 7: 5,000 points
- Level 8: 15,000 points
- Level 9: 50,000 points
- Level 10: 100,000 points
Local Guides level 4 and above receive a badge corresponding to their level, which is displayed in Google Maps as a reward for their continued contributions.
How to become a Local Guide on Google?
If the Local Guide program sounds lovely to you, here’s how you can become a local guide:
- Install Google Maps on your phone.
- Open the app and sign in with your preferred Google account.
- Click on the Contribute icon in the bottom bar to begin contributing.
And that is it. You are now a Local Guide.
The program is available in over 40 countries where Google Maps operates. Note that this program is for individuals and not for businesses.
The Contribute page has a few starting points for you. You can edit the map, add a place, write a review, or add a photo. It will also display some prompts, like showing places you have recently visited and asking you to rate or review them. You can also answer simple yes and no questions, to begin with.
If you want to really up your Local Guides game, we suggest thoroughly exploring your local area, preferably on foot. Walk around where you live and help populate details for local businesses, tourist attractions, utility services, public transit stops, and more. Click photos of name boards and business entrances, snap videos of approach roads, and get in the habit of penning down your honest opinions and experiences.
Remember, Local Guides is a community-driven experience, and people acting in bad faith will eventually be drowned out by honest reviews and suggestions from the community, so don’t try to be dishonest. Google does take action against Local Guides that violate its policies, so be honest with your feedback and criticism, and do not try to achieve any personal agendas through the program.
No, Google Local Guide points cannot be redeemed in any way. There is no monetary value behind these points either.
You cannot convert Google Maps points to money. There is no monetary value in the points earned through the Local Guide program.
No. Google does not pay Local Guides, nor do they earn any money for their contributions. Google Local Guides is a volunteer-driver program.
Local Guides may receive early access to Google features and special rewards from partners from time to time. However, these benefits are relatively rare and reserved for the higher contribution tiers. They also vary across regions. Google does give Local Guides a special digital badge within Google Maps to honor their contributions.