Customers can now virtually stroll through your lobby or entrance with the help of Google’s virtual tours. As we mentioned in our previous post, branded search terms that match exactly with your Google Places listing will result in a SERP with a Places page preview including thumbnails of your photos and 360° virtual tours. No longer will someone have to take that next step and click into your page to view photos, tours, or reviews. Let’s use Riviera Palm Springs as an example, to demonstrate the SERP display and virtual tours. You can see the thumbnails in the SERP and once someone clicks on a thumbnail they are directed to the virtual tour.
We know it’s challenging for many businesses to balance their marketing budget and maintain current photography, a cool website, social media campaign, the list goes on and on. Google Photos and Virtual Tours are an economical and cool way for your business to receive added exposure on Google without the pain of an expensive photo shoot. At the moment, Google is still expanding their business photo shoot locations but right now are they available in select cities in the US and other countries. Below is an example of the Virtual Tour that is created by Google.
You simply have to apply for a Google photo shoot of your business. We encourage you to fill out the short application even if you aren’t in one of the current select cities, so we can show Google where they should go next.
Photo shoots can be overwhelming and sometimes things go awry, but hopefully with proper planning it will go smoothly and result in a beautiful product.
Here are some general suggestions in the hopes that your shoot will be stress-free:
- Schedule the shoot when you expect to have little or no traffic through the areas you have selected for the shoot
- Alert any clients/guests that may be present during the shoot
- Inspect each area of the shoot – make sure everything is displayed perfectly in that area and in any peripheral spaces such as the patio outside which is seen in the background of the photo
- Assign a liaison to be present with the photographer. He/She can assist the photographer with any questions or needs, as well as talk to any guests or customers that weren’t aware of the shoot
- Inform your staff of the shoot so they can double-check their areas pre-shoot and they can be prepared to answer questions from customers and guests.
Remember that you want this to be the very best representation of your property and a realistic one too. It can look like you’re trying too hard if you add bouquets of flowers or new items to the areas that aren’t normally there. This is encouraged for an advertising photo shoot for use in your website and collateral materials; however with virtual tours and photos from a third-party such as Google it is more journalistic in nature.
If you aren’t lucky enough to be in one of the major cities that Google has selected to qualify for their business photo shoots, you can always add your own photos to your Google Places listing. This will enhance the relevancy of your listing and add those lovely little thumbnails to your listing in branded searches. SEO is an important part of your marketing strategy and these little details come together to help your business succeed in a virtual world.