Will You Be Affected by Google Moving 360° Photos and Virtual Tours?
New Home For Google Street View
If you have had a virtual tour published for your business any time before April 2017, you are likely to see some changes in the way your virtual tour is displayed on Google Search and Google Maps. The thing is, for most of you affected by this, it’s actually a really good thing.
“See Inside” Replaced by Circle and Arrow , + 360° View
There are a few people I’m sure that will be disappointed with one factor and that’s the words “See Inside” are going to disappear from your Google Knowledge Graph (the panel where your business details, mini map, photos, hours, links, etc show up).
Instead what you will see going forward is the following:
- Any image that is a 360° photosphere, usually part of a virtual tour, will have a little logo on the bottom that looks like a circle with an arrow pointing through it to help signify it is a 360° photo
- A new tab in the photos view on Google Maps (not on Google Search) will also organise the photos by their type, including ‘360° View’.
- Every one of the photospheres associated with the place ID – usually a business, will be viewable under the photos feed individually, therefore no longer needing to use the little navigation arrows on the ground to go from one virtual tour stop to the next.
- Any of the above… could change. After all, this is Google and this is a company that often seems to operate like a massive experiment or continuous ‘beta’ program.
Finally, Views Counter!
The big advantage for most businesses under the new format is that you will now be able to see the number of times any one photosphere has been viewed.
But what Google has yet to clearly explain is, what constitutes a view count? We really don’t know yet but we have to assume that a high view count would be a good thing, no differently to how key words searched more often has an affect on search results in the future.
As you can imagine, everyone who takes this kind of data seriously, which is most of all the Google Trusted photographers, is hoping this will positively affect business rankings with high view counts.
Promoting Your Virtual Tour
So how do you get a higher view count? The easiest way is to include links to your virtual tour in as many possible places online, such as your Facebook page and Facebook Feed, your email signatures and of course, your website. There are other places you can include a link too such as in a blog or other place where you publish online. It really is a matter of promotion. And after all, when you’re proud of your business, how it looks and what people can learn about what you offer, it makes great sense to leverage your virtual tour as broadly and as often as possible.
For now, in early September 2017 through to the end of the month, I’d simply keep an eye out for how things are changing and regularly look at the way you show up online, along with checking your Google My Business Insights page and photo view counts. Let this be a time to become truly acquainted with how you show up on or through Google assets and platforms.
My best guess is that there is a lot more to come. Google is truly evolving and wanting you to call their tools for business success, home.