It’s now possible for the public to tour your business without ever setting foot inside.
Using its Street View technology, Google now offers 360-degree, interactive virtual tours of restaurants, shops, gyms and more in cities across the country. The feature is called Google Business Photos and its images appear in Google searches, and on Google Maps and Google+ Local.
To take advantage of this service, you’ll (obviously) need photos of your biz− and they can only be taken by a Google-certified professional. Thankfully Google maintains a list of Trusted Photographers broken down by locale.
Mark Carper, owner of Firefly Photoramics, is not only a Trusted Photographer; Google has also designated him as a Top Performer in Columbus. In fact, he’s photographed seven local businesses: Tigertree, Columbus Eyeworks, Wine On High Bar & Retail, Park Street Tavern, High Street Tattoo, Ursus, and the Salons at High and Hubbard.
So who better to ask about the Business Photos process, right? Check out our interview with Carper.
The Metropreneur: After a business owner has agreed to have you take photos for Google Business Photos, what happens next?
Mark Carper: Once a business owner agrees to a photo shoot, we schedule a time to come. The owner will sign a short agreement stating they retain the rights to the photos, among other things. Some owners prefer the one- to two- hour photo shoot before or after hours, as to keep the tour empty of customers. It’s all the same to Google since any faces or license plates are blurred in the publishing process. Once the photo session is complete, the tour is edited and published. Tours can be live on Google as soon as the next day.
[M]: What do you charge business owners for photos?
MC: As a Google independent contractor, we are free to price at our discretion. Our rates range from $300 to $700 depending on location size. The price includes the virtual tour plus 10 to 15 “point of interest” shots of the business. It is a one-time payment for the shoot with no monthly subscription of any kind. Not bad for permanent advertising on the world’s most popular search engine!
[M]: Do you think more businesses will have Business Photos in the future?
MC: Most definitely. Whether you’re a retail store wanting to showcase merchandise, a dentist office wanting to promote your cleanliness, or a hotel looking to show off your best suite, Google Business Photos is the perfect way to enhance a customer’s online experience.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
MC: There are a few bonus perks to having a virtual tour on Google. One of them is the option to easily embed the tour on your website. Google makes this as simple as clicking the link button −the little chain at the top left of the tour− and copying the provided HTML code. You also have the option of seasonal reshoots. This is perfect if the business has seasonal merchandise or has just remodelled. We offer these at half the original price.
For answers to frequently asked questions, click here.