Many of us mainly use Google Maps for navigation, as part of our smartphone's GPS. And maybe to "Street View" our house or find weird/creepy sights. However, Google Maps can also offer valuable information about local businesses, markets, restaurants, bars, the lot. Here's how to improve this information, by becoming a Google Local Guide.
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How to sign up as a Google Local Guide
Local guides are a group of Google Maps users that fill-in the information for local businesses, leave reviews, upload photographs, correct mistakes, and answer questions.
To sign up as a local guide, we just need to visit: https://www.google.com/local/guides/index.html and click on "Join Now."
The only prerequisite is that we have a Google account. It is the same account we use for Gmail, YouTube, Adsense, Adwords, or any other Google service we might be using. If we don't have an account, we can create it on the spot.
As soon as we sign in, Google will ask to know our location automatically. This is optional; we can very well block it.
To sign up as a local guide, we must enter our current city, confirm we are 18 years or older, and agree to receive email updates about the Local Guides community.
Receiving the emails is not optional, we can't proceed without agreeing to it.
OK, I am a local guide. Now, what?
Having signed up as a local guide, we get access to our personal dashboard. We begin as Level 1, with zero points. By contributing to Google maps, we gain extra points and go up levels, up to level 5.
There are up to five ways to earn points for every local business on Google Maps.
We can upload pictures for a business.
We can write reviews. We need to write a full review, just leaving a rating won't count for getting a point.
We can add new businesses or existing companies that weren't on Google Maps...
...fix any wrong information...
...and answer any questions.
Each of the above will award us one point, which means we can get up to five points per business, provided that all five options are available. Although, for multiple photos or multiple answers, we still get one point.
To coordinate our actions, we can visit the "Your contributions" option on the Google Maps menu.
There, we will get suggestions for local businesses to review, based on our Location History. We will even find places we visited on a trip.
Of course, to get these suggestions, we must have a mobile internet plan active on our smartphone when we visited them, as proof that we indeed were there.
You should note that the points aren't awarded real-time, they might take up to 24 hours to appear.
What's in it for me?
Depending on the points we accrue, we will change level.
Each level comes with some benefits, which we can see on our dashboard.
In a previous version of this guide, a level 4 local guide would get 1TB on their Google Drive for free, for two years.
In July 2016 this 1TB was reduced to 100GB.
Unfortunately, this has also been removed, and level 4 local guides don't get any extra Google Drive space.
Apart from these benefits, we mainly get the satisfaction of improving Google Maps for our fellow man. And that's a reward of its own.
Will you improve Google Maps as a Local Guide?
Are you interested in improving Google Maps as a local guide? Would you like to see more incentives for participating? Leave us a comment.
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