‘Reaching a million views’ is a phrase mostly heard on platforms such as YouTube and social media channels like Facebook. Did you know that on Google Maps you can still get these crazy numbers only associated with mega YouTube stars like PewDiePie?
Whether you love to share your travelling experience, work in tourism and hospitality industry or you are a marketing professional; this article will provide some insights on my journey to reaching 10 million views on Google Maps.
A quick reminder: unlike other Google properties where you can generate revenue through AdSense, with Google Maps you can register for a local guides program to get exclusive perks such as local guide’s badges, early access to Google features and much more.
Why did I become a Local Guide?
The main challenge I faced during the early stages of my career as a digital marketer was getting accurate information about local businesses on search engines. The search engine results pages (SERP) were dominated by international companies covering local content or worse, foreign competitors outranking local counterparts. As such, I was inspired to learn more about how to optimize local content performance on search engines – the process is known as local search engine optimization (SEO).
During my tenure at Blue Mountain Inn and its sister hotels working as a Marketing Officer, I was intrigued by the idea of leveraging organic digital marketing channels to promote places of interest in the Mountain Kingdom. It became quite clear that the majority of local attractions (businesses) in Lesotho were facing serious challenges of securing top rankings on search engines. First of all, digital marketing was unheard of, and most of them did not have marketing budgets for content marketing and search engine optimization.
About a Google Local Guide
Google Local Guide is a program designed to give users around the globe an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of Google Maps with the sharing of local knowledge and experience about the places they visit.
As a local guide, you can contribute to Google Maps with the following:
Reviews & Ratings – You want to help local businesses get discovered on Google? Then, reviews are a great way to help them – provide an insightful experience of your travelling experience. Your review can detail the description of the place you visited with tips and recommendations. These reviews are most available for service-based businesses such as hotels, local attractions, and the like.
Share Photos – Take photos of your immersive experience to tell the story of your adventure. Follow the best practices when taking your shots: make sure they are in focus, use natural light, and capture the whole subject.
Add/Edit a Place – The best listing on the platform consists of the correct geographical coordinates, physical addresses, contact details, photos and an in-depth description of the place. When adding a business, focus on location data accuracy, website optimization, timely and informative content.
Answer the Questions & Fact Check– Provide the answers to other users about the places you visited, and verify the information submitted before they are published.
Tips for becoming a successful Local Guide
Learn more about SEO
According to MOZ’s State of Local SEO report 2020, search queries about local businesses account for almost half of Google’s two trillion searches per year. Because higher rankings equate to higher conversion rates, the competition to rank higher is getting increasingly fierce. They are many factors affecting search rankings like proximity of searcher to the place of business, on-page SEO elements, organic user behaviour and much more. Implementing SEO is an integrated endeavour demanding strategy, analysis and technical expertise and tools at every step of the way, and local businesses must invest accordingly.
Register for Google Local Guide Program
Remember, when you are a registered local guide, you earn points for your contributions, and you unlock badges and special perks as you climb to higher levels.
Find Reliable Sources before adding a Place
Most of the places I added on Google Maps either had a website or had a listing with some governing body. For example, if you want information about tourism establishments in Lesotho; go to visitlesotho.travel and Lesotho Hotels Hospitality Association website to find reliable information. If you are lucky and the establishment has an up-to-date website, that would be a more desirable option.
Share personal experiences
Nothing is more captivating than providing a first-hand experience of the place. The nuanced perspectives and takes will resonate with other users around the world looking for places to visit.
With the ever-changing local algorithm and increasing competition for local search queries, this field is quite fascinating, and more local businesses must allocate their marketing budgets to see a return on investments.