At the beginning of this year Google expanded on their Street View service that they introduced in 2007 to include interior views of businesses in those areas, giving people the opportunity to virtually explore a location before deciding whether or not to physically visit it.
The look is very similar to Street View, giving you a 360-degree panoramic view of the location using a wide angle lens. You can also shift the view along to virtually explore venues in their entirety.
A New Face For Your Business:
This service provides an almost unprecedented opportunity for customers to get an intimate and realistic view of businesses they want to visit, free from trick photography and inaccurate representations.
It can be particularly effective for restaurants, conference centres and other events centres where the location’s aesthetic is considered to be the primary drawing point.
For instance, a couple getting married and looking for a venue could quickly review dozens of potential locations that they would normally have to visit personally.
Getting In On It
Unlike Street View, that uses cars outfitted with special cameras that drive around, the service works by contacting an independent Google approved photographer and arranging for them come to your establishment. The prices vary as they are at the photographers discretion. From Google’s side though, adding your location to Business Photos is completely free. In fact, they’re even offering a $100 Google Ads coupon as incentive.
Any photographer can apply to be approved.
As the service is still somewhat new, there are only approved photographers in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, and the UK. As such, the service is currently only offered there. It’s growing rapidly though and seeing as South Africa was the first African country to get Street View, don’t expect too long a wait before it’s available here too.
Reduced Privacy Concerns
This new service is completely voluntary so it should also be free of the privacy issues that have dogged Google Street View internationally over the years (It’s actually illegal in Germany now.) The main problem being the possibility that the wrong type of people can review locations of interest or national security without being noticed or disturbed.
As with with Street View, there were also indecency concerns about inappropriate pictures finding their way online, ranging from the somewhat explicit to gross invasions of privacy. However as the photos can only be submitted by the owner and approved by Google, there shouldn’t be any illicit photos.
As with Google Street View, the faces bystander in the pictures taken of these location are blurred out or removed completely.
There’s more value to Business photos than just being on Google Maps and Places. The virtual tour can be placed on your very own web-page so you get the opportunity to add an incredibly novel and technologically advanced piece of content to your site that can effectively differentiate you from your competition.
It’s also an SEO opportunity as your link is placed on the Google Places site, and increases your chance of showing up in local results. Also, as this is also a geographic solution that has people looking over a map rather than search results, you can possibly circumvent many of the barriers to people finding your site, as is the case with rankings.