I have just finished a great article surrounding Google’s Business Photo’s program. Philip Rozek, guru of local search argues quite convincingly that hiring a trusted Google business photographer could add authenticity to your local places listing and therefore improve your ranking. See the post here.
For those of you who are not sure exactly what the Business Photo’s program is, it allows businesses to have a 360 view of inside of their business premises (think Google street maps inside a building). It is great for restaurants, hotels, retail stores and other businesses where the layout could be an important factor for the visiting client. Not everyone is allowed to offer this service though and you must be an approved Google partner to do so.
According to Phil’s article it makes senses that hiring a Google approved photographer to take pictures of your building would have a great effect on the trust factor with the search engine. After all if the photographer has visited your premises, he can confirm the location actually exists.
“My takeaway: you can’t really put fake business info on your local listing if a Google-approved photographer crawls around in the guts of your business and sends the endoscopy photos to Google.”
Does Google Really Take It seriously?
The most surprising thing for me is firstly Google doesn’t market this. Seriously, how many of you have heard about it in the first place? Not many I am guessing. Yet it is a great tool that adds great benefit for local businesses. Most local businesses have signed up to Google places yet no seems to know this inside view even exists.
After talking to many Google Business approved photographers, they find it extremely frustrating but not nearly as frustrating as the lack of support. The process is simple. The photographer visits your premises, takes photos in a seamless motion and then uploads it to Google proprietary software for the pictures to appear to be a 360* view of the premises. (I have simplified the process here. I am not suggesting for one minute photography is easy!!!). However, Google is extremely fussy about what they accept and most photographers have given it up as a fruitless task. Any queries seem to go unanswered.
Correcting An Error
I get contacted quite a lot by Google Approved photographer having issues with listing errors. For example, say you take the time to hire a Google Approved photographer, allow him to take photos of your premises, pay him for the service and then Google your business name or (keyword phrase) with great anticipation only to see the wrong listing come up. Instead of seeing all your great reviews, your stunning pictures and swanky new inside view, you see a listing with no reviews and no pictures, a blank canvas. This is quite a common occurrence with businesses. They sometimes have had multiple accounts created and are unable to close them down, as the person who set up the listing has left and taken the login in details with them.
For example I once had a call for a friend of mine who is actually a Google trusted photographer. A local hotel had two listings. One with about 8 reviews, photos and the new inside view service and one listing without anything at all. Just an address and a brief description. They didn’t have the access details to close the rogue listing, and worst of all if you Googled their name or any keyword related to the business it showed the wrong listing. I reported the error to Google using the “Report an error” button and after a while got a frustrating email back saying the issue had been fixed, when actually nothing had been done! Looking at the listing now it seems to have been rectified, however, the reporting tool doesn’t seem to be supported very well.
My own experiences of Google’s Business Photo’s Program is that this isn’t a priority for Google and if it does influence rankings then why does Google continue to show the wrong details for multiple listings. If the correct listing with pictures, reviews and Google’s Business Photo’s has more trust then why does an incorrect bare listing take priority?.
Would love to know your experiences of Google’s Business Photo’s. Please feel free to share your experiences below.