If you have a business, you know that it is becoming more and more vital for your store or office to be found in online, especially in Google searches. We recently met with a Google representative who gave us the low-down on Google Business Photos, which can give your company a distinct edge, both in experience for the prospective customer as well as in your online searchability. (Hint: If this program is being promoted by Google, you can bet that it is a factor in search.)

So, what are Google Business Photos? They are a series of panoramic images of the inside (and often outside) of your store, office or premises that create a 360-degree interactive online tour. Online visitors can “step inside” and take a look around.  This tour is hosted by Google and appears on Google searches, Google maps and Google+ Local business listings. As a business owner, you have full rights to all of the images.  You can  also embed the tours on your website(s) and social media.

The types of businesses that have been participating in Google Business Photos vary. Participants so far have included restaurants, retail shops, athletic clubs, car dealerships, office headquarters (such as the local office of a major home cleaning franchise), spas and hair salons, medical practices. They’ve even created tours of limousines for a limo company, an outdoor dog park and a campground. Business Photos can enhance the listing of many types of businesses; it’s not limited to retails shops.

To get started, you need to make an appointment with a Google-certified photographer (not just any photographer can do this for you- contact us and we can put you in touch with a Google representative at no charge). You will discuss pricing with the photographer, but it’s usually much less expensive than you might think because right now Google is not charging to upload the photos from your photo session.  The photographer will work with you to plan the tour and emphasize any special areas in your store, restaurant or office. Sessions often last an hour or more as hundreds of photos are taken and then uploaded to Google.  Once Google does its thing with the photos, they are available under a new “See Inside” window below the map of Google search results.

Businesses who participate in Google Business Photos have seen an increase in unique impressions, and many are seeing a link between the launch of their photo tours on Google and an increase in walk-in traffic and/or inquiries.  We haven’t seen data released by Google, but again, if Google is promoting it, being an early adopter is probably a smart move.

The majority of consumers search for local businesses online.  These photo tours are a great way to showcase your unique qualities, decor, products, experience, etc.  Think of it as a fun and fascinating way to invite customers inside your business before they get there.

If you’d like to participate in the Google Business Photos program, contact us.  We’ll connect you with a Google representative (at no charge to you).

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