Hiring a Google trusted photographer may just be perfect for your business. I am sure you're almost definitely familiar with the concept of Google Maps.
The system was first released in 2005. Eight years later, Google revealed that it had mapped 28 million miles of road in 194 countries.
Street View followed in 2007, meaning that local businesses could also be found with ease. Now, Google Street View has been expanded to include 360 virtual tours. You can set these up to help customers 'visit' your store without ever setting foot inside.
It's a brilliant opportunity for quick-thinking small and medium businesses to get ahead of the competition. Of course, they should do so with the help of a Google trusted photographer.
How Can a Google Trusted Photographer Benefit My Business?
Google reports that 44% of consumers use mapping products. Additionally, 41% of searches for specific places result in an on-site visit — sometimes even that same day.
Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest than those without.
By giving your customers a tour before they come to see you in person, you can help highlight what's special about your store. You can show them why they should choose to come to your store rather than visit a competitor in the area. Overall, it is great for your marketing strategy.
But how do you find a Google trusted photographer to help you do this?
Finding a Google Trusted Photographer is Easy
Google likes to make things as easy as possible for businesses that want to use their services.
So, it has set up a system for businesses to find a 360-degree photographer directly.
All you need to do is fill in the online form. Then, all the names and contact details (even cell phone numbers) will pop up for you. Many of the names will also be linked to an external site. That way, you can see the photographer's other 360-degree photo work.
It couldn't be more immediate. Still, who out of all these results should you pick?
Google's Rating System for Virtual Tour Photographers
When photographers sign up to produce 360-degree photos for Google Street View, they can qualify for what's known as a ‘Google Street View Trusted' badge.
Everybody who holds one of these badges is a Google trusted photographer. These are the people Google has specifically approved to participate in and produce its virtual tours.
This means that the photographer has published fifty approved 360-degree photos to earn the badge. This may not sound like a lot, but Google's requirement for approved photographs are actually very strict.
They require people to take high-quality photographs (using good equipment.) They also require no gaps, blank spots, or computer-generated ‘fills' in their work. Photographs must be sharp and well-thought-out with adequate detail. They need to maintain a Google-approved resolution and aspect ratio throughout.
So, work must be undertaken to a very high standard prior to approval and the badge being awarded.
It's only once a photographer is approved by Google that they may upload 360 virtual tours. Don't listen if they try to tell you otherwise. Only trust badge holders to do your 360-degree photography.
Even after approval, all photographers must follow Google's Sales and Branding Guidelines. This is to ensure the best practice and potential outcomes for their clients.
Check Out Their Portfolios and Prices
No talented photographer simply takes a photo and forgets about it. They want their material to be seen.
When searching for a Google trusted photographer, search for them and have a look at their portfolio of work.
You're looking for people who care about their work. That means no blurry stitching together of photographs, plenty of variety, and lots of clients.
You should also use Google Street View to go and check out their work as it stands on Google. See if they've done work for businesses similar to yours. Then, decide whether you think their photography would be a good fit for you too.
It's also a good idea to get in touch with their previous clients to see what working with them was like.
The photographer may also have business reviews listed on Google's review pages or elsewhere. Check these out to weed out any problematic photographers from your list.
Finally, check their quote against a few others. 360-degree photography is fairly new. It's also a very competitive area, as hundreds of photographers are seeking to make their mark.
Making Contact With a Google Trusted Photographer
A Google trusted photographer who you can truly trust will get back to you in a timely fashion. If they flake out on replying to emails, who's to say they won't flake out on your shoot?
Even if they have a trusted badge on their website, you do need to be careful. You can also verify their badge using Google's search functions.
You don't want to waste your money on a poor-quality shoot which will never get uploaded to Street View.
Before the shoot, make sure you fully understand and agree to its conditions. You need to understand who will own the photographs before and after they've been uploaded, and who has the right to use them.
Just because they're shots of your business, that, unfortunately, doesn't mean that they automatically belong to you.
Once the shoot is over, it'll take a few days for the tour to be uploaded to Google. You might want to ask your photographer to send the photos to you for approval first.
This way, you'll know that you're entirely happy with how your business is being represented online. You might want to ask them to come back to pick up on something that got missed the first time around.
You know your own business better than the photographer. They might have made a mistake and inadvertently passed over something important.
Want to Become a Google Trusted Photographer?
If you are interested, you can check out this blog post that explains how you can become a Google trusted photographer in just 7 days!
There are many benefits to taking your own 360 virtual tour images, especially if your business changes its aesthetic often. However, not everyone has the time to run a business and become a photographer in just a week!
If you are interested, Montreal 360 may just be your answer.
In Montreal? Try Us!
Montreal 360 Virtual Tour is a Google street view trusted business, undertaking 360-degree shoots in the city of Montreal and the surrounding area.
Our sessions take just between 30 minutes to a few hours (depending on your square footage), so our services won't disrupt your schedule.
Book an appointment now, and we can talk through what you'd like us to shoot, when, and where.