Wouldn’t it be lovely to take a stroll down the busy business district without worrying about traffic, other people, and unfortunate weather conditions? If you could tour virtually instead of in person, think of how much easier it would be to make decisions! Luckily, Google My Business offers virtual tours so that your customers can get an interactive experience on your listing.
A virtual tour of your business lets potential customers explore it as if they were really there- something photos and videos cannot always provide. In this guide, I’ll go over how to add a virtual tour to Google My Business so you can see if it is the right choice for you.
What is a Virtual Tour?
According to Google, “360 tours let customers peek inside before they arrive, and boost your visibility online.”
A virtual tour is an interactive, three-dimensional experience that allows customers to explore your business through their Google My Business profile.
Customers use Google to find businesses, but they go through a process of elimination when doing so. They look at things like photos, location, reviews, and ratings to compare the top-ranking businesses and decide which one they want to choose.
When customers see that a business has a virtual tour on their Google My Business profile though, it changes everything. Instead of relying on photos and reviews alone, potential customers can take an entire “virtual walk” through your business before even stepping foot in it!
If you’re a business owner, chances are you understand by now that having a Google My Business profile is important. But what you may not realize is that the majority of profiles don’t have virtual tours!
Fortunately, Google reports that listings with photos and virtual tours are twice as likely to generate interest. So if you want your listing to stand out, be sure to add a virtual tour.
How to Add a Virtual Tour to Google My Business
If you’ve decided to add a virtual tour to your Google My Business profile, there are extra steps you’ll need to take. Unlike other changes you can make to your GMB profile, adding a virtual tour requires planning and specific equipment.
Google My Business offers two options for setting up a virtual tour:
- Hire a Street View-Trusted Photographer
- Create Your Own 360 Tour
Creating your own 360 tours using GMB professional gear is simple, effective, and easy to implement.
Get Professional Help
You can use Google’s professional search function to find a virtual tour guide. This tool lets you type in your city and state to see a list of guides that have been approved by Google.
What’s great about this feature is that it provides the agency name, contact email address, and phone number all together! So instead of having to fill out a form, you can directly reach out to them.
Create Your Own 360 Tour
You’ll need special equipment to create your own 360 tour, which you can find at Google’s 360 shop. Prices for the equipment vary depending on quality and budget–the INSTA360 PRO2 costs $4999 while the INSTA360 ONE only costs 164 dollars.
While it’s probable that you can find equipment corresponding to your budget, the quality of your virtual tour will differ based on whatever item you end up purchasing. Also, I highly recommend investigating best practices for creating virtual tours so that you generate a tour that most accurately reflects your business. This is one significant advantage of working with a professional–you’ll be confident knowing that they will get your virtual tour done correctly and ensure optimal representation of your company.
Google’s Virtual Tour Guidelines
If you’re looking to create your own virtual tour, there are some Google guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind. In particular, blurry images and the following content is not allowed:
- Intellectual Property Violations
- Sexually Explicit Content
- Illegal, Dangerous, or Violent Content
- Harassment and Threats
- Hate Speech
- Terrorist Content
- Child Endangerment
- Personally Identifiable Information
Following these guidelines will help you create a virtual tour that is more likely to be published by Google. Remember, even if you don’t break any rules, your tour may still not be published if it doesn’t meet Google’s standards. Though this system isn’t fool-proof, as demonstrated by the unintentionally funny scenes captured on Google Maps Street View, it’s still in your best interest to comply with Google’s policies so that you don’t run into any trouble with your business.
If you’re interested in SEO or if you want ways to increase foot traffic for your small business, then optimizing for local search is essential. Google 360 Tours are one way to do this.
Google Street View
Google Streetview creates 360 virtual tours of your business that not only improve local search rankings but also expand your audience and build customer trust–all while being an essential part of getting found online. Of course, it’s fantastic to have an e-presence as a retailer, but it will never replace the in-person experience of visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
It’s tough for customers who haven’t physically seen your business to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy from you. And if they can’t get a good sense of what your business is like, they’ll probably keep looking until they find something that suits them better. Google 360 Virtual Tours can help with that.
Google Maps Virtual Tours are designed to give potential customers a firsthand look at your business, and entice them to visit in person. If you’re looking for more perfect customers, then this guide is for you. You’ll learn everything there is to know about Google 360 Virtual Tours including what they are, how much they cost, and their many benefits. So let’s get started!
Panorama Image Example For A 360 Virtual Tour
What Is a Google 360 Virtual Tour?
A Google 360 Virtual Tour is a series of panoramic images that give users an immersive experience of exploring your business’s physical storefront as if they were there in person. The Trusted Google Photographer or a Google Trusted Agency use special equipment called 360-degree cameras (or omnidirectional cameras) to capture the multiple images needed for the tour.
Not only can you list virtual tours on your Google Business Profile (GBP), but you can also embed them onto your website or social media with a short piece of code.
Benefits of a Google 360 Tour
Google 360 Virtual Tours provide an immersive experience that helps customers feel like they are actually in your business. By providing this valuable service, you can help your business grow in several ways. Some of the most impactful benefits include:
-allowing customers to get a realistic sense of what your business looks and feels like
-giving potential customers a virtual tour before they come into your physical location
– improving online searchability so that people can easily find and learn about your businesses
Promotes Your Business
Most importantly, a Google 360 Tour will help increase foot traffic to your business.
Better Google Map Rankings
By having a more complete Google Business Profile, you increase the chance of ranking higher on Google Maps and other local searches. Furthermore, by adding a virtual tour to your page, you can fine-tune your profile and selected keywords to attract even more customers than before.
Expanded Brand Reach
By the end of 2021, it is predicted that there will be 1.17 trillion local searches each year- that’s a lot of people looking for businesses like yours! Google 360 virtual tours are one great way to make sure your business comes up in these search results. By having a virtual tour on your website or online listings, you can show customers what makes your business special and differentiate yourself from the competitors. Not to mention, potential customers who can see inside your store before they visit are more likely than others to become actual paying customers.
The average session duration across industries is a measly 4 minutes and 25 seconds, but the longer your customers spend researching your business, obviously, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you or give you a call. A virtual tour will keep users engaged with content on your website increase session duration significantly, giving you plenty of time to convert them into leads.
Establish Trust With New Customers
It is often said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. To put it more contextually, a virtual tour of your business will speak much louder than any amount of text could ever hope to. Furthermore, this type of tour builds trust with potential customers in a way thattext cannot replicate.
Let me explain with an analogy. Say you were looking for an accounting service that could handle businesses employing 150 or more people. After some investigation, you finally find one. But when you go to the address, you see that it’s just a single accountant renting out a small room. Not exactly what you’re looking for now, is it? Although there’s nothing wrong with companies run by a sole staff member.
By providing potential customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business, you are fostering an environment of trust and comfort. In turn, this boosting the chances that customers will buy from you. With a Google 360 Virtual Tour, your clients can explore your store from their own device without even having to step inside. Not only does this give them peace of mind knowing what kinds of products or services you offer, but it also lets them get to know your company before committing to doing business with you.
Google 360 Virtual Tours are excellent for businesses because they need little investment and have many long-term benefits.
The only significant expense is the initial hardware, but otherwise, there aren’t any continuous costs. The software needed to edit and stitch images together is minimal, Google Business Profile makes it easy to post tours, and virtual tours can be used cross-platform as valuable marketing tools.
Many businesses choose to outsource equipment and time-intensive projects because they don’t have the resources necessary to complete them in-house.
Keeps You Visible 24/7Having a virtual tour of your business is like having it open 24/7—people can access it at any time, from anywhere in the world. According to a 2020 report, the peak hours for buying products online are between 8 pm and 9 pm. But this doesn’t just apply to online stores—people are researching businesses after closing time too. Having a well-made website will help educate your potential customers about your products and business even when you’re not there in person.
A Google 360 Virtual Tour will give them a chance to see what it’s like inside your establishment, even when they can’t come during open hours. This could be exactly what they need to make a purchase the following day.
Available Across All Devices
Since the majority of people today use their mobile devices to search online (averaging 60%), it’s important that your business is visible on all platforms. People are increasingly using tablets, smartphones, and laptops to find information about local businesses. If you don’t optimize for mobile traffic, you’re essentially losing out on a lot of potential customers and revenue. Moreover, studies show that mobile traffic will only continue to grow in the coming years.
Google has been quick to adapt their products for the mobile user, and 360 Virtual Tours are no different. In fact, some virtual tours let users explore your business by moving their smart device around. By creating a Google 360 Virtual Tour, you’re getting ahead of the curve by adding an additional layer of mobile optimization to your business.
Statistics On Google Virtual Tours
The Google 360 Virtual Tours provides plenty of advantages, as you can see from the statistics below.
- Listings that include photos and virtual tours are twice as likely to generate interest.
- Did you know that homes with complete listings, including virtual tours, are 78% more likely to be viewed as well-established?
- Photo and video listings inspire potential customers to purchase nearly one-third of the time.
- The majority of consumers (3 out of 4) search for a business online before they visit the physical storefront.
- Did you know that, on average, 41% of businesses searched for on Google Maps receive an onsite visit? And if your business features a virtual tour in its listing, even more customers are likely to come see what you have to offer!
- A massive 62% of customers prefer to see business interiors through images or virtual tours.
People use the internet to look up businesses before going to them in person. A complete Google Business Profile, virtual tours, and other online features will bring people who are ready to buy what you’re selling.
What Type of Camera is Needed for a Virtual Tour?
A 360-degree camera also called an omnidirectional camera, is needed for virtual tours. Most regular cameras only cover a 180-degree field of view in one shot. An omnidirectional camera covers approximately 360 degrees—sometimes it’s slightly less and this is okay because the equipment makes up for it.
Keep in mind that not every omnidirectional camera is created equal. You can get the images you want with a budget 360-degree camera, but they won’t have the high quality that will make your business look its best.
We recommend the following specs:
- 23MP (6720×3360, 7K) still image shooting
- Lenses that reduce ghosting, flare, and purple fringe
- Aperture offers F2.1, F2.5, and F5.6 for great depth of field, even in low light conditions
- 4K (3840×1920, 29.97fps) quality spherical video
- a 1.0″ in back-illuminated CMOS image sensor for superior noise reduction
- RAW DNG and JPEG support for Dual format simultaneous saving
- 4-channel microphone to independently record sound from 4 different directions
How Long Does It Take to Create a Tour?
The answer is less time than one might think. A regular tour takes only a few days from beginning to end. The total cost and duration depend on how many tourist attractions there are (number of steps in the tour).
On average, it will take a professional one to two weeks to create a beautiful 360-degree video of your business from start to finish. However, if you only need a single viewpoint recorded, that will only take 1-2 minutes and the crew could be in and out of your business in just a few hours. For larger shoots (e.g., 40 viewpoints), expect around half a day of shooting alone.
Where Can I Publish My 360 Virtual Tour?
The best part is that you can post your Google 360 Virtual Tour almost anywhere online. The most crucial site to publish it on first though is your Google Business Profile listing. Your listing helps Google get to know about your business, and what services/products you offer, and shows customers where they can find you using things such as Google Maps.
There are few things more critical for small businesses than having an up-to-date and content rich Google Business Profile (GBP) listing. And adding a virtual tour is a fantastic way to not only rank higher but also increase traffic coming your way.
Beyond GBP, you can also publish your virtual tour on the following platforms:
- Social media – Facebook or Instagram
- Your website
- Video platforms like YouTube
The ideal agencies will be able to manage to incorporate your new Google 360 Virtual Tour onto every single one of these platforms.
Google 360 Virtual Tour Cost
Depending on which agency you choose, the cost of your Google 360 Virtual Tour will differ. Some price their tours according to the number of rooms while others use the number of viewpoints. In addition, some agencies charge based on the type of service users such as editing and stitching. Lastly, other companies may upcharge for posting your video onto your website or Google.
In general, business owners don’t want to spend more than $35 from each customer’s perspective. This fee should include on-site shooting, editing, and stitching together the footage, as well as uploading it onto your marketing platforms like GBP.
What Do Professional Services Include?
The type of agency you hire will ultimately determine the kind and number of services available to you. Some agencies include only a few basic services in their standard package, while others might charge extra for certain amenities.
The best agency packages will always include:
- Free initial phone consultation
- A walkthrough of each area to document the project’s scope.
- Commute time from your business to the office
- Viewpoint recordings
- Individual viewpoints (still photos) shot
- Finalized 360° Virtual Tour of your business
- Google Street View integration
- Google Maps integration
- QR Code to 360° Virtual Tour
- Enhanced Google Search Results
- Free snippet to display 360° Virtual Tour on your website
- There are no recurring fees; you only have to pay once.
Need Outside Help? Here’s How the Agency Process Goes
Most business owners would rather work with a professional virtual tour company than attempt to do it themselves and risk not doing a good job. Here’s what you can expect from the process, though note that every agency will have its own procedures. For the most part, however, the process looks something like this:
- Consultation – During this phase, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the virtual tour process and what to expect from it.
- Site Walkthrough – A common practice agencies use to gain insight for your project is an onsite walkthrough. Here, they’ll explore the details of your location and what viewpoints should be covered.
- Estimate – Agencies take into account the number of viewpoints at your desired location, the level of editing required, and other price considerations to give you a personalized estimate.
- Approval & Scheduling – After you’ve agreed to the terms, you can work together with the agency to schedule your Google 360 Virtual Tour at a mutually convenient time and date.
- Onsite Recordings – The photography team will move throughout your business taking 360-degree photos from different angles.
- Edit, Stitch & Complete – Once the photoshoot is completed, your team will return to their editing station to retouch the photos and send the tour off for quality assurance assessment.
- Delivery – Lastly, your team will deliver the custom code for the tour to be placed on your website. Some agencies will post it on your Google Business Profile as well.
These details give you a better idea regarding Google My Business virtual tours. It is up to you to choose whether to go for an agency to design a virtual tour or a DIY approach.