Google may well be struggling to get local business reviews from its users. Unlike Yelp Google doesn’t have any sort of consumer community built around Maps/Google+ Local (people can dispute that). So, as I’ve written at Marketing Land, Google is launching a new “City Experts” program.
The program appears to be directly modeled on the Yelp Elite Squad. The idea is to build a corps of high-volume, high quality review creators for Google in various cities around the world.
Becoming a City Expert Google requires an archive of 50 “high quality” reviews (more on that below) and an ongoing minimum of 5 reviews per month. (I suspect some of the Yelp Elites might join and duplicate their reviews on Google. Will Yelp penalize them if that does happen?)
The Google Maps/Google+ Local cities soliciting City Experts are Austin, Birmingham (UK), Bristol (UK), Chicago, Edinburgh, London, New York, Portland (OR), Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco and Sydney. Google says it hope to add more places soon.
The following statement are from the City Experts FAQs page:
What do you mean by “high quality reviews?
A high quality review is usually three to four sentences long and contains specific, helpful and balanced information about a particular business.
What kind of benefits do Google City Experts receive?
Upon becoming a Google City Expert, you’ll receive an invitation to an exclusive Google+ Community, where you can meet fellow Experts in your city and discuss new tips and tricks for using Google+ Local and Google Maps. You’ll also receive monthly City Experts newsletters which will include a variety of offers, including free Google-branded items, online campaigns and contests and special event invites in your area.
The quality and minimum review requirements seem calculated to generate better and more reviews as well as build community and some loyalty around Google+ Local. Do you believe the program will “work” for Google in achieving these objectives?