You’ve probably noticed 360 photographs when navigating online. From Google to Facebook, they’re popping up frequently. You can easily navigate a 360 photo sphere by swiping your finger on your phone or with your mouse on a computer screen. And if you’re hardcore, you can don a virtual reality headset and really feel a part of a photo. As an avid photographer with an early adopter teenage son, I was anticipating the launch of the Samsung Gear 360 last Spring. So, when I could get my hands on a Gear 360 in late July before the US launch, I jumped at the chance. Camera in hand (or more frequently on a selfie stick!), my son and I drove all over taking photos of various Marin and San Francisco locations and hiking trails to earn my Google Street View Trusted Photographer badge. Since earning it, I have taken photos locally, regionally and internationally, whenever I travel, inside and outside. I really learned the intricacies of the camera when I was on a trip to Israel in September. While touring, I frequently held it aloft to get better views of the historic sites, so much so that the others in my group knew to look for it when lost. I’ve taken the camera to hundreds of locations and snapped in excess of 2,000 photos, many of which I posted publicly to various Google My Business and Google Places pages. I still find it unbelievable that my Google photos have over 1.5 million views. In my experience as a Google Trusted Photographer and part of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, I’ve learned quite a lot about the importance of using photographs to enhance a business’ listing on Google and optimizing their online presence with updated information.
Here’s why you should take notice of 360 photography and consider adding some for your business:
- Google rewards businesses that post 360 photo spheres with higher rankings. They’ve come out and said that they favor businesses with 360 photos. In fact, 360 photos are usually at the beginning of the list of photos on Google, bolstering the effectiveness of photo spheres.
Consumers are using mapping searches and are more likely to visit. According to a study commissioned by Google, 44% of people are using mapping products when searching for a business, and 41% of these searches result in an on-site visit. It’s not a surprise that Google calls your Google business listing “your most visible asset”. I recently posted a few 360 photos for my local pet shop that does zero marketing. In the two months since I posted it, the top photo, of the exterior has over 660 views. See, as long as the photo shows relevant content, such as the inside of a showroom or a representation of someone’s products, it further validates the business to both Google and to the customer. In this case, we know that searches have returned at least this many results for the business either organically or for a term such as “pet shop mill valley ca”.
Photo spheres are particularly good at showing the feel of a space in a way that a flat photo cannot. By its nature you get the benefit of a wide angle view that is typically only available with an expensive lens. If you’re in the building trades like most of my clients are, then you know what I mean. The photos I’ve posted for a showroom client really give a prospective customer a feel of the quality and variety of the products they sell.
- 360 photos are just cool! I believe that you gain a certain (and varied!) amount of street cred for having them posted to your business. You’re demonstrating to a prospective customer or client that you’re “with it” and not stuck in the 20th century. If you’ve taken the time to put 360 photos on your Google business listing, then you’re likely to be on top of other trends as well.
- BONUS – Update regularly. Just as Google and the search engines want to see your website updated regularly, they also want to see photos added periodically. I read recently that dripping out 360 spheres over time is more advantageous than posting several at once. I’ve started to do that with my clients so that Google knows they’re still relevant in search.
At minimum, claim your Google My Business listing and post some photos taken inside your business or with photos that represent your work. Just doing that is an important step in the right direction.
If you’d like to learn more about 360 photography for your business, feel free to reach out to me. I’ve got packages that include photos, editing and optimizing your listings.