Becoming a Google Trusted Photographer for Street View was a Great Idea!

Google Trusted Photographer Streetview

A little Google nostalgia

Google has been a part of my life for quite some time. This search engine went online in 1998 and became huge chunk my life in 2000 when I first started my web design company in Atlanta. I got my little business off the ground by joining a few local marketing groups. I stuck signs out in the middle of intersections, hell I even let 500 balloons go with my business card attached! Early in the game when it was a different search engine all together I gave internet marketing a shot. I can say all these years later that Google has been a major force throughout my adult life. Whenever something new pops up in the Google toolbox, these days we try to figure it out early. It’s become a habit now.

Google Local Guide Nerdyness

A few months before this COVID 19 Epidemic. I started uploading some 360 panoramic photos of locations during my hikes for fun using the Google Street View App. It was not long till I caught the Google Local Guide Bug being really nerdy with it for a few weeks. If you don’t know what a Google Local guide is. “It’s a Google power user that participates in reviewing and contributing to the local Google user experience.” I am now a level 6, working on my level 7 with 1400 more points to go. Anyway.. Why am I going on about this?..

Google Local Guide

What is authority on the web for business

Online business presence all boils down to authority. Authority is acquired by creating signals, citations and links that reference your business. Authority signals work hand and hand with your website to promote it’s services or products. Becoming a Google Trusted Photographer and Local Guide gives you another angle to build authority with.

How to Become a Google Trusted Photographer

Google Street View App Profile

Fifty 360° panoramic images. They need to be at least + 14 mp or larger (5,300 x 2,650 px) + get approved by Google Street View first. It might take a few weeks, but it is well worth it. There are a few things you need to consider when uploading images to Street View like: 

  • Make sure you have permission from everyone that appears in your 360° panoramas
  • Decide if you want to add your logo or marketing image to the photo in the NADIR (Bottom Most Point) of the photo. You can watch an informative video on that here

  • Make sure the photo has clean stitching without artifacts 
  • If you are using a 360° Camera double check you are getting the GPS information added to the photograph in your camera settings

Online business presence all boils down to authority. Authority is acquired by creating signals, citations and links that reference your business. Authority signals work hand and hand with your website to promote it’s services or products. Becoming a Google Trusted Photographer and Local Guide gives you another angle to build authority with.

Getting Started as A google Trusted Street View Photographer

Once your photos get published at some point you will actually receive the Google Trusted Photographer welcome email. The email will have links to the sign up form and marketing materials. The huge nerd in me got over excited about getting this email just to find out that they are in the middle of reworking the program. By the time you read this hopefully it will be back online. Due to COVID 19 though it might take a bit longer now. In your street view App however, you will officially have the badge appear right next to your profile image.

Here is an informative video to get started putting virtual tours together. Trust me you should invest time into setting things up correctly in the Google Street View App – Google Street View Workflow

Google Trusted Email

Promote your business and help others get exposure - Win - Win

Now that we have acquired the badge. You will be able to add your business contact information to Google’s public list of certified photographers. Recently Google added a button there that lets business owners find local Google Trusted Photographers. Now they have the option to publish virtual tours of their businesses. If you are not familiar with Google My Business yet I wrote an article about it here: ADD AND OPTIMIZE GOOGLE LOCAL BUSINESS LISTINGS.
 
This in itself has been a great foot in the door, giving us the opportunity to to promote our other services in person to local businesses owners. For example while we are at a business location photographing their virtual tour. 2 out of 3 times there has been a great opportunity to pitch them on our web design and internet marketing services.

Publishing Virtual Tours

The first location I did where we linked photos together for a virtual tour was Duncan Creek Skatepark while my son was skateboarding. It’s fascinating some of these images have already gotten  12,000 + views.
 
There is just something really cool about having your 360 photography published for all to see on the web! I used this location as a trial but since then I have gotten so much better at publishing and authoring virtual tours. Like all things you get better with time.

Setting up the 360 Photo sequence

When finished uploading the photos to your profile you can then assign them to an existing published Google business. After you upload your virtual tour photos as a group you need to orient them and modify the position and sequence of each. A rule of thumb for indoor virtual tours is to take a photo every 5-6 feet creating a clear and clean path for the visitor to move though.

Now Social media platforms also have the built in ability to publish 360 panoramic photos as well. You can embed these in your web designs and with the right camera there are all sorts of possibilities with video and stylized special effects. Momento360 is a cool online tool for storing, viewing sharing and embedding your 360 Panoramas definitely check them out.

360 Cameras and Equipment

The Street View App does give you the option of using Photo Sphere where you take like close to 28 photos and the software will stitch them all together. Yet most of the time the stitching is off even if you get really good at lining things up. It also get’s time consuming taking all those photos, especially when you are creating a tour with more than 5 photos it is going to take some time

connecting images virtual tour 662x1024
insta 360R1 768x565

It was more than worth it to buy a 360 Panoramic camera. The market is moving and changing fast so I am sure there they will just keep getting better and better. These cameras can connect directly to your Street View App and make the job much less cumbersome. 

I spent hours on Youtube and review sites trying to find the best camera for the job. All in all it boiled down to The Insta360 1X, Insta360 1R and GoPro Max 360 camera. These were the finalists that made the cut in both features, functionality and price point. I suggest looking at all your options but I went with the Insta360 1R for a number of reasons. The 1R was modular and came with a wide angle lens camera combo. This enabled me to use it like a for other types of projects other than just 360 photography and video. To boot it is waterproof, up-gradable and has a viewfinder with touch screen options. This post is not a product review but I suggest you research these three in-particular and draw your own conclusions.

The Google Local guide Community + 360 Photography Give us an edge

I highly suggest taking some time to be a part of the Google Local community and learn some interesting skills in the process. It’s one of those things that can start off as a fun hobby and end up opening a door to many opportunities. 
 
360 Photos, Videos and VR are adding an entire new dimension of experience to websites interfaces and UXD in general. Adopting this technology to your toolbox can be quite fun and rewarding.
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