7 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Google Virtual Tour
If you're considering adding content for brand marketing and advertising, there are some sound reasons to consider a Google virtual tour.
The virtual map of the world is growing faster than ever. The technology to virtually visit places on the earth, now fits in our pockets and is free from Google. How people search, discover, and engage online is becoming intertwined with virtual reality technology. Here’s how it can work to your benefit.
First, let's quickly answer, for those that don't know - What is a Google Virtual Tour exactly?
A Google virtual tour is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of images by a Street View Trusted pro or agency.
In this case the 360 images are produced, then added to your Google My Business listing as an interconnected virtual walking tour. The new virtual tour is now visible along with your other location information, so searchers can get a better sense of what it's like to visit.
Google offers all businesses, small and large alike, a free place to showcase themselves called a Google My Business listing or a GMB for short. Establishing a GMB is super helpful, but what you do to optimize this listing is crucial to whether or not you even appear when products or services you offer are searched. For more, check out our blog on Google My Business Listing Success.
Ok, now that you know the what and where, we can get to the 7 reasons your business needs a Google Virtual Tour
Increased quality content for your listing improves interaction
A well optimized listing means one filled with content beyond just the business name and basic info. The more high-quality professional content and interaction the better for your ranking and engagement outlook.
On your GMB listing you have several ways to add content like:
Your website - add your link so people can get there in one click
Posts - similar to social media updates and offers
Photos - interior and exterior + identity, at work or team
Customer Reviews - you can respond to Google reviews adding a layer of interaction and transparency.
Videos - yes, you can even upload video now :)
360 Photos - or a Street View Trusted Google Virtual Tour
Let's pretend for a second you have a restaurant and you want to make sure your customers are able to find you on Google.
You would definitely want some great photos of your storefront, food and the inside of the dining area atmosphere. But if you had the 360 virtual tour as well, the attraction, interaction and time spent could all DOUBLE.
People WILL spend time walking around your place virtually versus just skimming over still pictures and details. The difference is that it gives a real look of your business and well, honestly, it's just kind of fun to do!
As your prospects tour your restaurant business virtually, the views are interpreted by Google as positive organic interaction with your listing. This helps with higher ranking on Google. So, doubling-down on the type of photo content you are allowed on Google should be a no-brainer.
To most people the virtual world still packs a major wow factor. Any customer looking at your listing will genuinely enjoy the experience. Plus, it lets your customer know that you are up to date with current technology and will likely be around to serve them for a while.
Shows instantly what can be hard to describe
So, your location has beautiful fixtures, great art and amazing wall treatments with plenty of warm space. How do you describe that instantly without saying a word? - With 360 photos of course!
The Google virtual tour will allow your customer to instantly experience the atmosphere and feel of your location with their own eyes. A trick that makes their brain feel like they've already been there.
They can walk around to different sections of the venue and quickly decide to visit. Professionally produced tours are done in such high-quality format that you can zoom in and see everything they need to get a clear idea of what a business is all about.
Up-to-date Street View of your storefront allows customers to find you easily after being picked on Google and Google Maps
For example, we've seen a street view picture on a business’ listing that was taken by the Google Maps car before the building was even built. When a customer looked at it on Google Maps to get there, it was only a photo showing an empty patch of land.
This can be confusing to a valuable prospect trying to identify your business. Also, if you are in a location where you took over a prior used location, chances are that the Google street car passed by when that company was set up and not your company. Showing their signage or even flaws that you may have fixed or changed or completely renovated over.
This is what the thumbnail looks like on Google Maps app
When you add any outside 360 pictures, it can replace the thumbnail picture of the most current Google Street View tour taken by the Google Maps Car of that address.
The Google Maps car may only drive by once per year or less often in rural areas, so this can resolved by getting a tour.
When your tour is captured, most professional Google virtual tour producers will start with a point or two of the storefront as the beginning of the tour. If taken close enough to a Street View point, this image usually becomes the new thumbnail of the listing on Google Maps. This helps your customer get an accurate look of your storefront when navigating to your location.
New way to attract and interact with your customers
Virtual reality may become a tangible force in our daily lives. More and more the virtual world is being developed to help us do all kinds of things - travel, education, even medical technology.
Google and Facebook are pouring billions of dollars into development of hardware and applications to prepare for the next generation of user demands. The future holds many uses for virtual reality but one available right now is a tool specifically to engage with customers.
A Google virtual tour of your business will allow your customers to experience your location. Most smartphones today will allow you to see virtual images without using special glasses or a virtual reality headset. Any customer with a smartphone can interact with your space easily.
This gets them to interact with listing in a way that wasn't available before.
See a count of how many views you get
Another great feature in your Google My Business listing is the ability to track how many times your photos are clicked on and looked at.
When you claim your Google My Business listing, you get access to your GMB Dashboard. Here you can manage your listing and also see how many views you've gotten of your photos. You'll also see stats for how many impressions, clicks to website, calls or clicks for directions.
These are all great indicators of how many people are engaging with your listing and taking action. Movinstills can provide graphs of how the tours has been performing throughout the year with a link or a file with the top three performing images
Your Google Virtual Tour can be used in other places
A Google Virtual Tour of your business can be embedded and shared in other places outside Google as well.
You can add it to your website easily just like a YouTube video. Just copy and paste the embed code into a website block and it will appear in just about any context you'd like.
Some businesses like to use different parts of the tour on different pages. Like an events facility showing off a private hall on a page about private events. Or an apartment complex showing of the gym and pool on a page about the amenities.
It can also be posted on social media that has 360 support, like Facebook. As we all know social media is a great way to stay in touch with people interested in the products and services. Use 360 content as a way to get them into your store virtually and then physically.
Another tip if you have an email list, you can re-engage with your past clients by sending a link to your new virtual tour.
It lasts forever- if you want
Google will host it indefinitely and it will remain on Google until you delete it! The cost of photography and production is relatively inexpensive and would be a one-time fee to get processed and published to Google--then it lives there forever. You can't beat a deal like that, when most virtual tour sites have hosting fees to keep your website online.
These are just a few ways to optimize your Google My Business listing in order to get you ranked higher on Google. These tours can be vital to getting traffic to your business online and are recommended highly by Google themselves.
There are limited companies that do this service and they have to be a Trusted Google Partner in order to have access to publishing to your virtual tour to Google.
Annalisa Banello aka Movinstills is Trusted Google Photographer Partner company that has been active in Greater London since the beginning of the Google Business Photos program in 2012 and has been linked with international agencies in the pursuit of providing commercial photography and Virtual Tours on Google.
With over 65% of all searches on the internet happening on Google, creating an optimized Google My Business listing complete with a Google virtual tour should be top priority for any business owner.