Two years ago, Google Business View came to Colorado. The tool, created by Google in 2010, allows photographers to use Google Maps technology to take high quality photos of office space. With a 360-degree panoramic image of an office, users can virtually walk through it just as they would with Google Street View.
The images appear when users search for your business and can easily be accessed via Google Maps or embedded on your website. This relatively new tech trend has been catching on with a variety of businesses, such as gyms and restaurants, but really shouldn’t be overlooked by technology startups.
Why it’s great for tech startups
For one, the high-quality images are a great way to show off your startup’s personality. Google is specifically staying away from corporate, religious or large chain establishments because they want the fresh, bright interiors so often used in technology startups. Innovative minds want to work in a creative space. With these images, you can show off your office's ping pong table, upbeat interior design and bike racks to potential hires before they even come in for an interview.
Two, it’s great for your SEO. Having a Google Place Page makes it easier for customers to find you, and when you add the panoramic views and point of interest images to your page, you’ll only rank higher. James McConnell, a Google Trusted Photographer for Business View Photo said: “If the company is focused on technology as an asset to that type of business, they know the importance of SEO and Google placement in search results. There is no better compliment than what we do.”
Plus, it’s a one-time effort marketing strategy: ”The marketing opportunity this thing has is a five to 10 year shelf life. I can’t think of one other marketing product the business can invest in and continue to use for five years,” McConnell said.
And the best thing about it is Google is footing most of the bill. Photoshoots do not require any sort of special equipment, lighting or setup, so you are free to stay open. Google even hosts the images on your Place Page for free. Keep in mind, these are high quality photos and depending on office size could include up to 200 images to create the 360-degree panoramic image, so hosting all that data costs a pretty penny. Instead, you pay a one-time fee of a couple hundred dollars to your local Coloradan photographer (here's 18 Google Trusted ones) for shooting the images and then stitching them together using the Google Maps technology.
Why you can trust the process
Google certifies only those photographers that meet their standards of quality for taking the feature pictures and panoramic pictures regardless of common small business office challenges such as low lighting and tight spaces. These photographers, known as Google Trusted Photographers, are independent contractors or businesses not employed by Google, agents of Google or affiliated with Google in any way. They are required to use the necessary (and expensive) camera equipment and are trained to use sophisticated image stitching, HDR, image matching and other technologies to produce the panoramic walkthroughs.
Photoshoots can exclude any areas of your business you don’t want to feature, and at any time you may request additional blurring. You can even request to have certain images taken down with the click of a button or have the images reshot by talking to your photographer. Ultimately, the contract is between Google, the Google Trusted Photographer and you. It’s about keeping up with technology and, more importantly, trying to stay ahead of it.
“Once I really saw what they were doing, I knew there was no question that this was a great thing," McConnell said. "It’s fantastic to be a part of it and absolutely changing the way businesses are seen.”