You may notice a few new search result features on Google lately when looking up local businesses and restaurants. Google Street Views for Business now takes you inside the establishment to get a lay of the land and a Vancouver company is helping to make that possible.
Alex Duffield of InControl Solutions is one of many photographers around the world that is trusted by Google to capture these images for their listings. “They launched [Street Views for Business] officially in May of this year, with ‘certified photographers‘ after doing tests in selects cities in the US the year before,” Alex told me. “I heard about the program through a contact at Nodal Ninja, a company that makes the special camera rotators that are used.”
Alex applied for the program and was approved. So far he’s shot tours for over 120 attractions and was the second highest performing photographer for North America this past September. He also has a certified staff member in Whistler.
So just how does it work? How does a business get their virtual tour image to show up on Google? You can start by checking out the Google Business Photos information page and selecting a photographer. Alex says businesses then pay them directly and they make it happen.
“It is a one time fee to cover our time in shooting the location, uploading and moderating the tour on Googles servers and publishing. Moderating is basically making sure all faces and license plates are blurred, positioning the tour correctly on google maps, and making sure each point in our tour is linked correctly and at the right distance form each other so that when the user navigates the tour, the arrows point correctly and the tour flows well.”
Examples: Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar, CinCin, Flying Beaver Bar & Grill, Yaletown Brewing Company.
Alex’s company provides clients with the final copies of the photos and they remain property of the business, allowing them to use the images as they like once the tour is published. The business licences the images to Google to use online as well as the photographer (Alex) to use in marketing efforts. They shoot fisheye shots and non-fisheye, stitched and non-stitched, 360 degree photos, and more. Photos without any effect are used on the business’ Google+ local page.
“As far as benefits to the business, apart from the obvious in giving user the ability to virtually come in and look around an establishment, there are several perks that help enhance the online presence and format on how the company will be seen in search results.” Alex says that having a tour provides a ‘look inside’ image to company listings in Google search results, Google Maps, and on local businesses pages.
To find a Google Trusted Photographer businesses can search Google’s directory for one in their area. There are currently six in Vancouver with Alex listed as one of three Top Performers. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for more information.