04 September 2010
Google Business Photos Visits Our Flower Shop
I was working from home on Wednesday and received a call from the shop telling me a photographer from Google had stopped in and wanted to shoot our store. Even though I was aware Google had a newish program regarding Business Photos for Place Pages, (having read about it on Mike Blumenthal's excellent blog) we never applied to participate - and my initial reaction was one of skepticism. Too many less-than-honest companies have been using Google's name to market their small business services for us to just accept these kinds of offers at face value.
Thursday morning, Kim - the photographer - again visited our shop and she was wearing a shirt with the Google logo. She noted the 'We're A Google Favorite Place' decal on our front door and smiled. Sure enough, Kim is part of a team working here in Orange County and they're attempting to capture the in-store flavor of local businesses.
We received a document describing the program and set an appointment time for her to return Friday afternoon to take the pictures. Gotta say that having at least a day to 'fluff up' the shop a bit gave us the comfort level cushion to say 'yes'. Am guessing other business owners likely feel the same way.
Since I closely follow the happenings in Local Search (and have been delighted to participate in David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors survey the last couple years), I was curious how the other businesses in our neighborhood were responding to this offer. As with many other opportunities on the web, it sounds as if the owners who use the internet infrequently don't quite understand how search engines and search marketing on the desk-top and mobile web are impacting their businesses - positively and/or negatively.
Kim is precisely the kind of representative Google should have on the street visiting local businesses. She's well-spoken, thorough, approachable and easy mannered. Her confident, professional demeanor has no-doubt lead more owners to say 'yes'.
I asked if we could take a photo of her taking photos. She got clearance 'from above' (Mountain View ;) ) so here's a shot of her with the still camera capturing an image of our tropical flowers.
A couple key points:
- Kim (and I presume other photographers) have a pre-set list of businesses to contact. Companies in our neighborhood not appearing on the list could only apply for a future opportunity.
- The photographers are using two different types of cameras and both are described in the FAQ.
- The sessions takes about an hour.
- Businesses who agree to participate can delete the images from our Place Pages if we don't like them.
- There's currently no time-line stated as to when the photos will appear on our Place Page.
- Software will automatically blur faces, but customers still need to grant permission to be included in the photos.
We're looking forward to seeing which shots make our page. It hasn't been updated much by us since late '08 and early '09 when our listing completely disappeared for 3 months. Updating info can have unintended consequences - just ask Matt McGee - and we don't want to go through that again.
I'm also curious what other uses these photos might have in the future - alluded to in the FAQ:
24. Will Google be using the business photos in other applications besides Place Pages?
Google is committed to continually innovating, and we're always
looking for new ways to make business information more useful and
accessible to our users. In doing so, we may create new applications
that use the business photos we take at your premises. Your consent to
allow Google's photographers to take business photos will also be used
for these applications.
Click on a product display area and then be offered items in the category for purchase via Google Shopping? Image search for business so users can quickly compare storefronts, interiors and customary inventory? Any other ideas?
If you're a small business owner and get the opportunity to participate in Google Business Photos - take it. It's easy, quick and best-of-all...free. Hopefully you'll be lucky enough to get a visit from Kim or someone just like her. :)
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