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John Lynch

A Guide to ‘Google My Business’ Picture Management!

By | Google My Business, Google Plus | No Comments

Recently Google gave business’ some much needed control over their images in the Google My Business dashboard.  The Jury is still out on how it will behave within Google but I believe that it bodes well, but we will have to wait and see.

Frederick R. Barnard is often credited with the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words”, however it should really read ‘the right picture is worth a thousand words’.  With 20 years in the marketing and advertising industry, the image and narrative have become part of my life.  Since 2012 I have been a Google partner working in the Google Maps Business View programme and have been telling stories about businesses with images since then.  Naturally when Google added the ability to ‘Manage Photos’ in the Google My Business dashboard I wanted to know more and this article explains how your business can use this new feature to positive effect.

In the beginning…

When you first get into your Google My Business dashboard you are met by a dark blank panel with a progress bar indicating how complete your profile is Click on the red edit button and “fill-yer-boots” (as they say in Ireland).

Image 1

There are lots of great articles on how best to manage your Google My Business dashboard.  Here are few useful links:

Edit your business information

Google My Business Help

ASIDE:

If there is any doubt as to the importance of completing your Google My Business dashboard then I would direct you to this report by OXERA in Dec 2014: Benefits of Complete Business Listings

In this report (which is dry reading but the statisticians among us will love it!) Oxera makes the simple but remarkable conclusion that there is profit in a complete listing:

Image 2

And an increased clickthrough rate to a businesses website:

“Our analysis shows that additional information is associated with at least a 30% increase in homepage clickthroughs” – OXERA 2014

And a better experience for the consumer:

Image 3

So do not hesitate, jump in now and get started.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, Google will offer your business a voucher to use in Google Adwords, cash it in because it can disappear:

Image 4

If you would like to have a Google Virtual Tour completed for your business then click

Image 5

and you will be able to select a local Trusted Photographer or Agency.

Here is a link to an article I wrote on Google Business View if you would like to learn more.  (There is an update coming soon).

Once you have optimised the basic information for your business the next step should be to organise the images you have selected to represent your business. Obviously you will need to have these images before you start and you can ask your Google Trusted Photographer or Agency to take some additional images while they are on location for you to use.  You should expect to pay a little more for additional images but this may work out more cost effective than hiring a commercial photographer to come to your business independently.

Once you have your images click

Image 6

to start organising them into your Google+ Local Business profile.  Alternatively you can add photos via the Google My Business App and add photos via   > Photos and select the type of photo you are adding.  Images added via the App will be Geotagged if you have enabled that feature on your device.

It is important to note that when you load images as a business you cannot access the normal Albums as you can in a personal profile.  When you click the photos button you are directed to the manage photos page:

Image 7  Image 8

Tip… If you wish to get to your Albums follow these steps:

  • Go to you G+ Business Profile page
  • Click on the photos tab
  • Click on View all to review all albums

Types of photos

There are several types of photos you should add to your business page:

Profile photo

Add a profile photo so that your customers can recognise your business on Google. Your profile photo will be featured next to your business name on your Google+ page. Your profile should be a different photo from your business logo, which should be added in the “Logo” section.

Cover photo

Add a cover photo to showcase your page’s personality. Your cover photo is the large photo featured at the top of your Google+ page. Note that this photo will be cropped to fit a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Logo

Add your logo to help customers identify your business. Square-sized logos display best on Google. You can choose to make your logo serve as your profile photo. Your logo won’t appear on your Google+ page, but you can choose it to represent your business on Maps and Search by following the steps below.

First photo on Google

Recommend the photo that you want your customers to see alongside your business name on Google Maps and Search. To change this photo, choose the three dash menu icon and choose Profile, Logo or Cover.

Business-specific photos

Add these photos to spotlight features of your business that your customers use when making purchasing decisions.  These break down into several categories (the number beside each of these is the suggested minimum number):

  • Exterior Photos (3)
  • Interior Photos (3)
  • Product Photos (3)
  • Photos at Work (3)
  • Food and Drink Photos (3)
  • Common Areas (1)
  • Rooms (3)
  • Team Photos (3)

Google provide some guidance regarding these images.

Example:

The following is an example of a Google My Business > Photo Management as different photos are added.  We have added photos for a client to every section to be able to monitor results across the following platforms: Google Search, Google Knowledge Graph, Google Maps, Google Views & Google+ (on Desktop and mobile devices)

Client:

KME Steelworks Ltd based in Northern Ireland Knowledge Graph (KG) before:

Image 9

(Our example already had one image added before we began & KME does not have a Google Virtual Tour completed yet)

First lets change the profile image by hovering over the profile picture and click on the ‘Change profile’

Image 10image 11

You will have the option to upload, select from an album or choose images that have been tagged by others of your business.

In this option we are going to choose from a preloaded album.

We follow the same steps for adding a logo and a cover image:

Image 12

(You can only load a logo from your computer)

One of the main benefits of this feature is that you can elect which image will be displayed in the KG for your organisation by clicking in theabove the right hand picture.

Follow the same steps for each of the relevant categories of images.  Remember to geolocate each images and to add information about each image as you add them.  Include your company name and a short narrative about the image.

Image 13

By the time you have finished your Manage Photos dashboard should look like this:

Image 14

This is how KME Steelworks’ Knowledge Graph (KG) appears after the changes are implemented:

Image 15

When the images have been published they are supposed to populate Google Search, Maps and Google+.  However I have not seen any of the images populate any maps searches in the area of the business (although they may not have been there for long enough to have an effect).  Obviously if you load the images to Google+ it will have an effect on the images visible on Google+ however it is a bit disappointing that there is no categorisation of the images in the photos section of the business’ Google+ Local Page.

It clearly has an effect on the image displayed in the KG (as seen above) and this alone is worth the minimal effort it takes to manage your images.

In an incognito Google Image search a little less than 10% of Google+ surfaced in the first 50 images for the business.

I have reviewed the results on mobile devices and images are displayed as a long uncategorised list, which is also a little disappointing.

While having control over the image that appears in your KG is a great step forward it seems to me that there is lots of control with only one reward.  If I were asked by a business would it be a good investment to acquire professional images of the business to populate this feature, I would have to say “no – at this time”.  If you have the images already then I would load them as the benefits may reveal themselves sooner rather later.

This all leads me to the conclusion that there must be more to come where images on Google My Business is concerned and I for one am looking forward to it improving further.  I have my suspicions that Google will reveal something soon on this score, as we in the Google Business View field have been gathering information about hotel rooms for some time now and this information is also not appearing anywhere yet either (to my knowledge).

So maybe I should revise my revision of Frederick R. Barnard’s phrase to “the right picture is worth a thousand words – as long as it is seen by someone interested in the story!

All photos by John M Lynch.

Footnote: I would be interested in running the same little test for a restaurant or cafe as the Food category my surface in other searches.  If anyone knows of a restaurant that has completed the Manage Photos, I would be interested in information about your experience.

Google Business View: Step Inside the Sage Group Headquarters

By | Google Plus | No Comments

Sage Group Headquarters

When ‘Plus Your Business’ was approached to write a promotional piece about Sage’s Google Business View, we jumped at the chance!
After all, it is the first FTSE100 company to get with the future of Google in this way!

What’s it all about?

Google Business View, the commercial Street View service offered by Google Maps, has been hitting the headlines recently with rapid expansion plans into several sectors including the Hotel and Restaurant markets. Whilst these more traditional types of businesses have been quick to adopt the Street View technology, which offers users the ability to take a virtual tour of the insides of their premises directly from Google Search, Google Maps and Google+, the Google cameras have also been caught wandering off the high street and into the corporate world.

We’ve seen quite a handful of office based businesses invest in a Business View tour, some keeping it plain and simple, others adding some flair and fancy dress into it – our tour of The Office is Dead recently won the Interactive Design category at the Design Week Awards. Whilst we have seen these larger, corporate tours being created for the likes of Universities, Business Centres and Supermarkets, the headquarters of leading businesses have been left unexplored, until now that is. Sage Group PLC, a FTSE100 Company, is the first amongst the corporate giants to grant an access all areas pass to the Google Cameras at its purpose built HQ in Gosforth, Newcastle.

But, why would a FTSE100 software and accounting services company want to be featured on Street View?

Well, as Tori Newcombe, Digital Content Manager at Sageexplained“we’re incredibly proud of our workspace at Sage, and our North East heritage. Putting our headquarters on Google Maps gives us a unique ability to virtually open our doors and show off our working environment and culture, it’s promising to be a fantastic tool for recruitment.”

We have to agree, the building itself is very impressive from an architectural and design standpoint and it certainly makes you feel like you are inside the offices of an innovative FTSE100 Company. But what really makes this tour stand out is the human touch. Featured throughout the tour are carefully choreographed Sage employees holding printed signs in front of their faces, a tactic which avoids having to use the anonymous Street View blurring of any faces that are visible. These signs include messages, feelings, and emoticons and feature throughout the entire building.

sage

Not only does this help to keep the user engaged throughout the tour, but it also really gives you the feeling that Sage is a great place to work. The signs show the fun side of Sage and add a sense of humour amongst an impressive and very corporate environment. Whilst navigating the tour, you get the impression that the people featured throughout the tour had a lot of fun making it! It’s great to see that Sage really jumped at this marketing opportunity and involved quite a number of different staff to pull this off – a real team spirit with energy runs throughout the tour as a result which I imagine is exactly the kind of the messages Sage wants to promote throughout it’s marketing.

With this in mind, the tour now becomes a very powerful recruitment tool for Sage, who will be using it prominently in their online recruitment strategy with a link being included within all of Sage’s Newcastle job adverts. This not only helps the job advert to stand out, but also provides potential applicants the opportunity to look around the offices and imagine what working at Sage would be like – although it kind of ruins the ‘Sorry I’m late, I got lost’ excuses on your first day!

For the rest of us, Sage have also created a viral treasure hunt aspect to the tour by utilising the TourDash platform to create a quick navigation menu and also to hide several hotspot items and features within the embedded version of the tour on Sage’s website. A competition has been launched with a series of questions about the hotspot items featured in the tour in a treasure hunt fashion where users can enter to win a luxury weekend from the local region. This will help to promote the tour via social media and acts as an incentive for users to fully engage and explore the tour and premises further driving online engagement. You can access the treasure hunt here: http://www.sage.co.uk/press-room/google-business-view.html
We love what Sage have done with their tour and think it’s a great example of what a Google Business View tour can be with a bit of creativity and imagination. If you have a fun or creative idea for a Google Business View Tour we’d love to hear from you, as PYB’s in-house Business View expert, I would be happy to discuss any ideas you might have, so feel free to get in touch.

A Guide to Google Maps Business View

By | Google Local, Google Plus | No Comments

Google Maps Business View launched!

Since 2012 Google had been rolling out Google Business Photos (GBP) across selected countries around the world.  Basically GBP was Google’s ubiquitous StreetView but for inside businesses: A fantastic idea but very labour intensive.  This gave birth to the Google Trusted Photographer.  These photographers were trained in the techniques of panosphere photography and a proprietary software package that allowed StreetView style tours of the interior of the business.  As with all new products there was a bit of tweaking to get it right and today it has come of age and has been rebranded Google Maps Business View – catchy I know!  But at least there is no denying what it is – a Maps product that lets you view a business.

So how does it work?

Business Views is attached to the Business’ Google+ Local Business Page. It is accessed through numerous Google digital real estate:

  • The Knowledge
  • Graph Maps Search
  • Pegman Search
  • Google+ Local Business Page

Throughout the Google digital real estate Business View is presented as “See Inside”.  

In the Knowledge Graph (this is the Panel that appears on the right hand side of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) a business with Business View will have an extra tile reading “See Inside”:

Knowledge Graph

In a map search the Business View will appear as a tile in the top right hand corner of Google Maps and the first active image is “See Inside”

New maps search inset

A Pegman Search can bring you right in through the door from StreetView:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUjdTJ5D9EU]

And it appears on the about page of a Google+ Local Business Page

G+ Local Bus Page

In addition to desktop searches Business Views is compatible to mobile based searched also.  Here is an example of the sames searches as above on a Nexus 5 and when you click on “See Inside” it is completely navigable:

[one-half first]
Business View tour on a Nexus 5

Business View tour on a Nexus 5

[end-column][one-half]
Mobile SERPs

Mobile SERPs

[end-column]
Google Maps Business View on a Nexus 5

Google Maps Business View on a Nexus 5

When properly cited it will appear at the top of SERPs on a mobile device. In short Google Maps Business View populates nearly every search destination and it is undeniable that it enriches the content displayed when the results are shown.


Business View also has a number of additional benefits:

  1. The service includes 10 point of interest photographs that go to populate the photos section of the G+ Local Business Page.  These photographs also populate the carousel when the business is being searched for on the new Maps.
  2. The photography is the property of the business – the photographer relinquishes all copyrights to the business.  This is a very important distinction over Google Views which is consumer/hobbyist variant of StreetView.  (this will be discussed later)
  3. Business Views is hosted within the businesses account not the photographers.
  4. Business views is stripped all personal data that may be a copyright infringement or a breach of privacy rights.  Google spots checks the photographers work to ensure high standards are maintained and if the standards are not met, Google can request for the photographer to return and reshoot the work.
  5. Within the Business Views programme once the photography is complete there are no mandatory re-shoots, on-going costs or maintenance fees.
  6. The photography is free for the business to use in any way the business chooses (as long as the business adheres to Google’s terms of its Maps API)
  7. Business View can be embedded into the businesses Facebook page or into their website, or any domain that support html iframes.

Business views can be very creative

Take this tour of an office space in Manchester, England. The ‘Duck Tour‘!

ducks tour

The following tour won creative tour of the year in Europe, Middle East and Asia:

Screenshot 2014-03-19 18.51.33

And the following Business Views was used as a substantial piece of webart:

Screenshot 2014-03-19 21.58.22

But their main purpose is to show off the inside of the business.

Here are some examples of how Business Views have been used in the past:

Businesses have chosen Business Views for several reasons:

  1. To show off a luxury setting
  2. Demonstrate the facilities available
  3. Substitute for a site visit
  4. Part of an engagement strategy

Here are a few iconic Business Views that have been completed recently:

 Doctor Who’s Tardis:

Screenshot 2014-03-19 22.39.03

Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley:

Screenshot 2014-03-19 23.00.14

BBC Radio 1 studios

Screenshot 2014-03-19 17.20.18

From an SEO point of view it is good news also.  It is early days yet but anecdotal evidence suggests longer page visits & lower bounce rate.

Leekes invites customers inside its new store with Google Maps Business View

Challenge

Leekes, a midsized home furnishings retailer in the UK, was in expansion mode.To help promote the opening of a new Leekes store in Coventry, its digital marketing team wanted to engage customers with an interactive virtual experience of the store’s interior. However, the new store had over 45 departments across two floors and 185,000 sq ft, so Leekes needed a well-organized and easy-to-navigate solution.

Solution

After considering several options, Leekes ultimately chose Google Maps Business View to execute its vision. Business View, which stitches together high-resolution photos into a 360-degree interactive virtual tour, offered the best choice in terms of simplicity, quick turnaround, and prominent visibility across Google.

Leekes hired a local Google Trusted Photographer to shoot and upload the virtual tour to Google. The photo shoot took just a few hours, and the Business View was published on Google less than a week afterward. The virtual tour now appears across Google – in Search, Maps and the Leekes Google+ Local page. Customers can navigate and explore the entire store, whether they’re on their desktops, tablets or smartphones.

We looked at several other proprietary 360-degree tour solutions…. They were either clunky, the technology was old, or they weren’t cross-browser compliant. None of them stood out as elegantly and robustly as Google Maps Business View.

Geraint Martin, head of e-commerce, Leekes

Results

Leekes embedded the virtual tour on its website and used the Google Maps API to create a custom graphic overlay leading into the virtual tour. Customers can click on a department to start the Business View experience from anywhere in the store.

Geraint Martin states,

Business View has attracted over 20,000 visits since the launch on our site, and average time on the Business View page is five times higher than for any other page on the website. The purpose of our page is to drive in-store footfall rather than online sales, and our Coventry store footfall is up by 20% year on year. We are expecting to relocate our store in Llantrisant, South Wales to a brand-new unit in the Talbot Green redevelopment. Having had such positive feedback from our customers in Coventry, we will definitely use Google Maps Business View for our new Talbot Green store once that project is complete.

Just Food For Dogs increases customer engagement with Google Maps Business View

Challenge

Just Food For Dogs (JFFD) wanted to attract customers who would appreciate the care and attention it puts into its high-quality dog food. The JFFD team was looking for an innovative way to engage new and existing customers, and Business View, a virtual tour of businesses using Street View technology, was an ideal solution. Rudy Poe, managing partner for Just Food For Dogs, states,

You really only get what we’re about once you walk in. We want to convey the genuineness of our brand, and stepping into our store is the best way to do that.

We built this kitchen from scratch for the simple purpose of providing our customers with transparency in every aspect of how we do our business. Google enables us to do that with Business View.

Solution

JFFD chose to use Google Maps Business View as a way to draw potential customers from across the country into its open kitchen in Newport Beach, California. Poe hired a locally based Google Trusted Photographer to collect the imagery necessary to create the 360-degree interactive Business View.

A single photographer conducted a photo shoot within a couple of hours without interrupting business operations.

Business View gave Just Food For Dogs the opportunity to invite customers online to view the interior of its establishment. The panoramic view of JFFD’s interior now appears on Google Search, Google Maps and JFFD’s local Google+ page.

Results

JFFD experienced a 50% increase in the click-through rate from the search results to its website. Poe states,

We’ve been growing more since we’ve had Business View. Any future location that we open is going to have this feature. I thinks it’s invaluable and it’s going to be necessary.

Moving forward, JFFD also anticipates the importance of Google Maps Business View as a tool to grow its customer base. The company is located in Southern California, but Business View is an effective tool that allows JFFD to reach people throughout the country. Poe states,

Business View is a platform for us to convey to customers who we are…. It’s that resource that helps people see before they buy.

Business View helps diners decide where to eat during NYC Restaurant Week™

Challenge

In the summer of 2013, 294 restaurants participated in NYC & Company’s 21st annual NYC Restaurant Week™. To help these restaurants attract more customers, NYC & Company wanted to incorporate new informational features on its restaurant listing pages.

Solution

To drive a higher level of engagement with participating restaurants, NYC & Company embedded Google Maps Street View and Business View on its website at NYCgo.com. In particular, Business View, which offers fully interactive virtual tours of business interiors, gives diners a valuable new way to explore participating restaurants.

Results

55% of all participating restaurants had Business View and results showed that diners were more likely to reserve a table at those restaurants. In New York City’s competitive food scene, this compelling visual imagery offered these restaurants a valuable edge.
• On average, restaurant listings that included Business View had a 30% higher click through to reservations
• Visitors who viewed Business View for a given business clicked through to make a reservation 50% of the time (20% more than visitors who didn’t view Business View)
• 84% of 1,300 surveyed customers said Business View played a factor in their restaurant choice

For NYC Restaurant Week, we have seen that the more engaged consumers are, the more likely they are to book multiple reservations. Being able to feature Google Maps Business View, along with menu
previews, as part of our booking experience has had a direct impact on our visitors’ decision to make a reservation.

Edward A. Hogikyan, Senior Vice President, Marketing, NYC & Company.

 There are a number of studies taking place at the moment – one of which my company is running at the moment.  We have been awarded the contract to shoot a whole town (within the limits of the old town).  Before the project begins we will have recorded information about site traffic for the businesses websites, the visibility in SERPs, Google +1 and other social activity.  We will then be able to compare these at staged periods after the completion of the work.

Google Maps Business View versus Google Views

Google have another product called Google Views (unfortunately similar name).  This is a similar product but it is designed for the enthusiast, hobbyist and amateur panosphere photographer.  It works from the camera in an android phone.  These are reasonable when used in wide open space such as outdoors but the software starts to really strain when in more enclosed spaces and indoors.

It is possible to produce Google Views with professional equipment and even create StreetView style tours.  However, these variants remain the property of the photographer, they can be easily deleted and do not turn up in any of the Google digital real estate apart from the carousel in the new Maps and it may not even turn up there.  The cost for producing the Google Views virtual tours (at professional quality) is similar to Google Maps Business View without all the additional benefits of being visible in other Search destinations.

Another consideration for Google Maps Business Views can be found in Google’s Hotel Finder.  If a hotel has had a Business View completed and published it will automatically populate Hotel Finder.  As some of you will know Google has just launched Google Menus in the USA and it is bound to follow elsewhere. It might be reasonable to assume that Google might extend the Hotel Finder format to include restaurants and Google Views will not appear for the businesses that have Google Views.

One final feature that really makes Business Views extremely accessible for businesses and a powerful marketing tool is a bolt on or skin called Tour Dash (TD).  TD is the only product on the market at this time that has Google’s blessing to distribute a navigation system that is built upon Google’s maps API, it is fully integrated with Google analytics and also can be embedded into the businesses website.

Screenshot_2014-03-10-23-27-16

Instead of navigating using the arrows, the user can select from menus where they want to go; Hotspots can be embedded into the tour so that the user can be semi immersed in a partial reality clicking on the items in the images to bring current information to their fingertips: today’s menu, the current range in that department, run videos, sound files, competitions, even click and collect.  And at the time of publishing the developers were working on an AutoTour feature that would allow the business to bridge the gap between pre-scripted video and self-directed exploration.

Would you like to know more?

Well, contact us here and we will take you on a tour (yes, we did that) of how we can help!