Google Photos for Businesses; Is it worth it?
Although the Google Business Photos program has been around for quite some time now, it has not been embraced with lots of enthusiasm by the business community. There has been a fear that it is just gimmicky. Others say that there are factor that are more important for ranking than a bunch of cool pictures. However, we all know that Google doesn´t launch this kind of ambitious programs for naught.
But what is it?
It is pretty much like Google Street View where a camera takes panoramic pictures of the streets and then stitches them together for users to have a totally immersive view of the outside world without having to be physically there. The difference is that you are no longer limited to look at the storefront of a business. You can now actually “walk into” the venue that requests a photo shoot.
In the case of Google Photos for businesses, there is no special car doing the shooting. To get a cool 360° photo shoot of the insides of your business, you must hire a trusted photographer. That means that not everyone is able to submit these professionally taken photos.
What are the benefits for businesses?
We talked to our friends at 360° Enable, an interactive virtual marketing agency trusted by Google, and they told us that they have been doing 360° photo shoots for a while now and have seen positive results.
Having images of your business displayed right on the search page results gives customers a better sense of how your business looks like, its decoration and general layout. It works great for businesses that want to show off, or feel there might be a possible barrier to entry, or that there is something special about it, but the general public won´t really get it until they see it.
What´s in for Business Owners?
The guys at 360°Enable guarantee high-quality still photographs stitched together for a totally immersive and navigable 360-view.
What´s more, as the business owner, you have total control over these pictures and can even embed the images on your website and social media pages.
Having a photo session is not yet a definite factor for Google Rankings. According to some, it is more like a trust factor for potential customers. Indeed, it increases trust as Google users get to actually see that yours is a real business with real people and not an empty lot that claims to offer dubious services, as it often happens. It is now possible to walk into a restaurant, office or store from the comfort of your desk.
There are people who have been trying to correlate the fact of adopting Google Photos with higher rankings. It is true that there is no solid evidence that Business Photos can give you a boost in rankings. However, this article reflects that sites that ranked high in local searches, have also adopted Google Business Photos as a way to retain their dominance.
Some might not find this too convincing. Nevertheless, Google is known for siding with those who care about their customers. Besides, we know how even flooring can influence people to buy our products, don´t we?
The fact that Google is offering a product that enables clients to make comparisons using their own eyes before committing to visit your store, means that they are at least taking it into account as a ranking factor.
Is it hard to get a Google Certified Photographer?
There is no short answer to this. Although there are lots of people getting their Google Certification every day, the demand has got really high. But there are other factors to take into account before hiring a photographer to perform a 360° Google photos session.
It takes a while to stitch the pictures together, but not as long as many would have you believe. Make sure you hire a person who knows what he is doing and will do it on time. You do not want to plan a marketing campaign with pictures that won´t be ready for the launch date.
You should also make sure the photographer understands what you want to focus on as a business. Having one working closely with a digital marketing or SEO agency would be ideal. As SEO specialists, we encourage our clients to work only with an agency that also knows how to combine your pictures with an effective and professional SEO campaign.