Few things in the retail industry go together better than Google Business Photos and retailers. If you aren’t using this service, you could be missing out on a crucial opportunity to improve your business’ search visibility and online brand. We have some advice to share from a Google-certified photography agency, LCP360, to help you get started and maximize your investment in Google Business Photos.

Before we get to our interview, I’ll bring you up to speed with the service in case you’re unacquainted with Google Business Photos, which launched in 2011 in a handful of U.S. cities. Since then, it has gained considerable momentum, expanding across the country and world.

Google Business Photos is essentially Google’s Street View technology brought indoors. Google Trusted Photographers and Agencies take high-quality photos of your store or restaurant -- wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling -- and stitch them together to create interactive, 360-degree video tours. They also capture individual “points of interest” shots.

The photographers publish the video tours and photos on Google, where they appear on your Google Places for Business page and in search results when customers are looking for your business. You can see a couple of examples that LCP360 created. Here are video tours of Toy Joy in Austin, Texas, and Jack Alexander Salon & Spa in Mt. Prospect, Ill.

Toy Joy Google Business Photos

Toy Joy’s Google Business Photos

Jack Alexander Salon and Spa

Jack Alexander Salon & Spa's Google Business Photos

Can you imagine the advantage Google Business Photos might provide if you’re a destination shop, restaurant, salon, gym, and nearly any other retailer? Here’s a rundown of the biggest benefits:

1. Increase your search visibility. This is perhaps the biggest reason any retailer should be using this service. Google Business Photos display on the search results page when customers search for your business name on Google. The photos also appear on Google+ Local pages, Google Maps, and other Google properties, which helps your store rank higher in search results and improves your online brand.

2. Impress customers. The photos showcase your store or restaurant in its best light, and give customers a better sense of the layout, décor, and merchandise. Compare that to businesses that don’t have these photos. The high-quality panoramic tours can give you a crucial competitive edge when customers are searching for a certain type of business to visit. Customers can also click through various areas and rooms, letting them engage with your business.

3. Drive foot traffic. Google Business Photos lets you pull customers into your store or restaurant virtually, and showcase why they should visit in person. You can create a sneak peek into your in-store customer experience, creating interest and allure that can drive foot traffic.

4. Easily capture high-quality panoramic photos. Google Trusted Photographers and Agencies take all the photos, helping you capture high-quality shots without having to take a crash course in photography. This is especially helpful if you are photography challenged or don’t have a high-quality digital camera. You own the images and videos, so they can become your primary business imagery that you can embed on your website, social media sites, email marketing campaigns, and other places.

To get started, you would select a Google photographer to shoot your business. Google does not dictate a cost for Business Photos, but instead strives to provide photographers who offer market rates, which you can then negotiate with the individual photographer.

As we mentioned, one of Google’s Trusted Agencies is LCP360, a visual marketing firm based in Rosemont, Ill. We asked Regional Sales Manager Tom Lisak if he could give us some insider tips and advice on how retailers can use Google Business Photos and make sure their store or restaurant is showcased in the best light. He provided a lot of good pointers that go beyond the Google Business Photos FAQ. Take a listen below or read the transcript. Feel free to jump to any topic using the index.

  • 1:32 Background on LCP360 and its involvement with Google Business Photos
  • 2:40 Why retailers should be using Google Business Photos
  • 4:12 The increase in retailers using Google Business Photos
  • 4:40 How retailers should prepare their business for a photo shoot
  • 5:58 The process for shooting a retailer’s location
  • 6:43 How to avoid business interruptions during photo shoots
  • 7:33 How retailers can negotiate photographers’ costs
  • 8:34 How retailers can make their stores or restaurants look great in photos
  • 9:20 Lighting considerations for retailers
  • 10:02 The types of photos to capture
  • 11:09 Pitfalls to avoid during photo shoots
  • 12:27 How retailers can maximize their investment in Google Business Photos

With this advice in hand, log onto Google and search for your business. What comes up? If you don’t have Google Business Photos, can you see the opportunity to improve your online brand and search visibility? If you do have Google Business Photos, do the video tours and images knock your customers’ socks off, or could they be better? With online and mobile technologies having anchored their place in retail, publishing high-quality Google Business Photos and video tours is a surefire way to take your Google Places page, and overall online presence, to the next level.