Today at the Social-Loco conference in San Francisco Google’s Doyenne of Local Marissa Mayer formally announced Google Business Photos. This is not a new product but the formalization of an offering that has been available in a more limited way since last year.
Google is inviting local businesses in a few cities in the US, Australia, and Japan to apply to have a Google sponsored photographer come and take interior shots of the business, restaurant or store. In the US the areas are Orange County, SF Bay Area, St. Petersburg, FL, San Antonio, TX, and Phoenix, AZ.
You can see an example of what it looks like here (under Photos & Videos). And here’s Google’s pitch to the local businesses and the categories they’ll be pursuing initially:
What are the benefits of requesting a photo shoot of my business?
Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t always judge a business by its exterior. Interior photographs are a great way to show potential customers what your business is really like. By enhancing your Place Page, business photos will help your business stand out above the competition and get discovered on Google. Millions of users will be able to visit your establishment from the comfort of their own homes, or preview it to help them decide on a visit. Best of all, it’s free!
What type of business is Google currently interested in photographing?
We’re kicking off by photographing interiors of the types of businesses that we know are searched for most regularly. The types of businesses we’re currently interested in are restaurants, hotels, retail shops, and other storefront businesses. We’re always open to new ideas, so please let us know if you have a great idea for a kind of business that our users would love to see. We’re currently not photographing legal, medical, or chain establishments.
As far as I can tell this is still free to businesses and is intended to beef up the content on Google Places. Boston-based EveryScape is a firm that also does this and has a deal with Microsoft.
EveryScape CEO Jim Schoonmaker has told me that conversions and consumer response are much higher when local businesses have this imagery on their sites or profiles.