Google 360 Tour Guide to Virtual Walkthroughs for Businesses

Google Street View

Have you heard about a Google 360 Tour?  Whether you’re an SEO enthusiast or simply a digitally savvy small business looking for ways to bring in more customers, you already know the importance of optimizing for local search.

Google Street View
Google Street View

Through the technology of Google Streetview, a Google 360 Tour is a virtual representation of your business. These tours will help boost your local search rankings, expand your audience, build trust among your customers, and is a downright essential tactic for getting found online.

As a retailer, we can agree that having an online presence is excellent, but it isn’t the same as visiting a storefront in person.

For all the local customers ready to buy what you’re offering, without seeing the actual business, it can be hard for them to get a good sense of what you’re like to help them make a good decision.

And the truth is, that can lead your ideal customers to keep on looking elsewhere for what you’re selling.

That is until Google 360 Virtual Tours.

A Google Maps Virtual Tour will let you showcase what it’s like being at your brick-and-mortar store in person. And it’s a powerful way to bring more of your perfect customers right through your front door.

This guide takes you through everything you need to know about Google 360 Virtual Tours, including what they are, how they can help, what they cost, and much, much more.

Let’s jump in.

Table of Contents

 

Panorama Image For A 360 Virtual Tour
Panorama Image Example For A 360 Virtual Tour

What Is a Google 360 Virtual Tour?

A Google 360 Virtual Tour is a series of panoramic images that take users through your business’s physical storefront.

Multiple panoramic photos together (stitched) create a full 360-degrees “walkthrough” of your business, just like Google Street View.

Visitors can move forwards or backward, go into rooms, and enjoy an entire field of view, just like if they were there in person.

The images for Google 360 Virtual Tours are taken either by a Trusted Google Photographer or a Google Trusted Agency using special equipment called 360-degree cameras (or omnidirectional cameras).

These virtual tours can also be connected to and listed on (among other places) your Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly known as Google My Business —an essential part of any local SEO strategy.

You can also place them onto your website and social media outlets using a simple snippet of code.


Need help managing your Google Business Profile?  

Learn more here.

Don’t have a Google Business Profile yet?

Learn how to set one up here.


 

What Are the Benefits of a Google 360 Tour?

Google 360 Tour Example
Google 360 Tour Example

Google 360 Virtual Tours are more than just a simple glance around your business.

There are plenty of ways this innovative marketing tactic can help your business grow and thrive.

Below are some of the most impactful benefits a Google 360 Virtual Tour can have on your business.

Better Promotes Your Business

First and foremost, a Google 360 Tour brings more clients and customers to your door (isn’t that the point of anything you do?).

There are a few ways a virtual tour accomplishes this.

Leads To Better Google Map Rankings

A better and more complete Google Business Profile is more likely to rank higher on Google Maps and other local searches.

Adding a virtual tour to your page is another great tactic to add to your profile and boost your keywords rankings. And this means more customers :)

Expands Your Brand’s Reach

Google 360 virtual tours are a fantastic way to ramp up your business’s digital presence. As of the 4th quarter of 2021, there are 37,000 local searches a second (or 1.17 trillion each year).

Your ideal customers are looking for businesses online. And adding a virtual tour to your digital marketing efforts is just one more way you can bring more ready-to-buy searchers like these into your store.

Causes More Engagement

The average session duration across industries is about 4 minutes and 25 seconds. But the longer your customers spend researching your business, the more likely they’ll be to buy your product or give you a call.

A virtual tour keeps your users engaged with your website’s content and increases session duration, giving you more time to win them over.

Builds Trust With New Customers

As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. But you don’t have to do the math to know that a virtual tour is far and away more effective at showcasing your business than a word-by-word description. And it’s more effective at building trust.

Think of it like this. Say you were looking for an accounting service equipped to handle businesses with 150+ employees.

After a bit of research, you finally land on one. But when you head to the address, you find that the service is just a single accountant renting out a one-room suite.  It doesn’t seem like a match now.  Not that there is anything wrong with a single-staffed company.

Instead, a Google 360 Virtual Tour gives your customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business to help them feel more comfortable.

But when your potential customers digitally walk through your store, they’re not just getting a feel for your business. They’re also getting closer to trusting you as a possible, reliable provider.

And the more they trust you, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you.

Is Very Cost-Effective

One of the best things about Google 360 Virtual Tours is that they can be an incredibly cost-effective way of promoting (and running) your business.

Despite an initial upfront investment in the proper hardware, there aren’t any additional expenses.

There’s minimal software needed for editing and stitching images together, they’re not too hard to post to Google Business Profile, and they’re a valuable piece of marketing collateral you can use across plenty of platforms.

The biggest financial hurdles are the equipment and the time investment, so many businesses decide to leave it to the professionals.

Keeps You Visible (Open 24/7)

Like other digital marketing assets, a virtual tour lets you keep your business’s doors open 24/7—digitally, at least.

A 2020 report found that the peak hours for buying products online were from 8 pm to 9 pm. But this doesn’t just apply to online stores. People are researching businesses after closing time, too.

A well-made website will, of course, help educate your potential customers about your products and your business.

But a Google 360 Virtual Tour will help them see what it’s like inside your doors.

And for those who can’t make it during your open hours, this glimpse inside could be what they precisely need to pull the trigger the next day.

Available Across All Devices

Virtual Tour on a Mobile Device
Virtual Tour on a Mobile Device for Above & Beyond Wellness Spa, Fenton, MO

The age of desktop-only searches is long gone. Today, mobile searches are averaging 60%.

Tablets, smartphones, and even hot spot-connected laptops make up the bulk of how people are finding your business online.

And if you aren’t optimizing for mobile, you’re dealing your revenue numbers a severe blow.

Plus, experts predict mobile traffic will continue to grow.

Luckily, Google has made virtual tours especially optimized for mobile.

Some virtual tours even allow searchers to “look around” your business by changing the position of the smart device.

When you create your Google 360 Virtual Tour, you’re capitalizing on this growing trend by adding one more layer of mobile optimization to your business.

Statistics On Google Virtual Tours

Now that we’ve outlined some of the most significant benefits of Google 360 Virtual Tours, let’s get into some statistics.

Take a look at the stats below from Google and Visual Objects to get a better perspective on just what Google 360 Virtual Tours can do for you.

  • Listings with photos and virtual tours are 2X as likely to generate interest.
  • Complete listings (e.g., ones that feature virtual tours) inspire trust and are 78% more likely to be viewed as well-established.
  • Listings with photos and tours motivate customers to purchase 29% of the time.
  • More than 3 out of 4 consumers look for a company’s online presence before visiting a business in person.
  • On average, 41% of business searches on Google Maps result in an onsite visit. That number tends to be even higher for businesses that feature a virtual tour on their Google Business Profile listing.
  • A whopping 62% of visitors prefer listings with views of business interiors through images or virtual tours.

People research businesses online before visiting them in person. And it’s also clear that a complete Google Business Profile, virtual tours, and a robust online presence, in general, all help bring in more ready-to-buy customers.

What Type of Camera Does a Virtual Tour Require?

Ricoh Theta Z1 51GB Camera
Ricoh Theta Z1 51GB Camera

Virtual tours require a 360-degree camera, also known as an omnidirectional camera.

Most cameras typically only cover, at most, a 180-degree field of view in a single shot.

On the other hand, an omnidirectional camera covers about 360-degrees—sometimes it’s a bit less and is compensated for by the equipment.

With that said, not all omnidirectional cameras are of the same quality.

And while shooting with a budget 360-degree camera can get you the type of images you want, they certainly won’t have the quality to make your business look great along the way.

That’s why we recommend using cameras with, at minimum, the following specs:

  • 23MP (6720×3360, 7K) still image shooting
  • Lenses that reduce ghosting, flare, and purple fringe
  • Aperture offers F2.1, F2.5, and F5.6 for great depth of field, even in low light conditions
  • 4K (3840×1920, 29.97fps) quality spherical video
  • a 1.0″ in back-illuminated CMOS image sensor for superior noise reduction performance
  • Dual format simultaneous saving (RAW DNG and JPEG)
  • 4-channel microphone to independently record sound from 4 different directions when shooting video

How Long Does It Take to Create a Tour?

The answer here is this—probably less time than you’d imagine. A basic tour takes a few days, start to finish.

The total cost, and time, are dependent on the number of viewpoints (number of steps in the tour).

In most cases, recording a single 360-degree viewpoint will take 1-2 minutes.  The crew could essentially be in and out of your business in just a few hours.

For larger shoots (e.g., 40 viewpoints), allow for around a half-day of shooting alone.

On average, from consultation to publishing, expect one to two weeks for a professional to create a beautiful end product.

Where Can I Publish My 360 Virtual Tour?

That’s the beauty of it—you can publish your Google 360 Virtual Tour almost anywhere online.

The most important place you’ll want to publish first is on your Google Business Profile listing.

Your listing is how Google learns about your business, understands what you have to offer, and directs customers to you on platforms like Google Maps.

Few things are more impactful for small businesses than having an accurate and content-rich GBP listing. And adding a virtual tour to yours is a fantastic way to rank higher and increase traffic coming your way.

Beyond GBP, you can also publish your virtual tour on:

  • Social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram
  • Your website
  • Video hosting platforms like YouTube

The best agencies will be able to handle integrating your new Google 360 Virtual Tour throughout all of these platforms.

 


Google 360 Tour Examples

Star Buds, a Medical Marijuana Dispensary
Star Buds, a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in University City, MO

Cape Albeon, Retirement Apartments in Valley Park, MO
Retirement Apartments in Valley Park, MO

Use the menu to quickly browse.

Above & Beyond Wellness Spa
A full-service wellness spa located in Fenton, MO.

Use the menu to quickly browse.


How Much Does a Google 360 Virtual Tour Cost?

The cost of your Google 360 Virtual Tour comes down to which agency you choose. Some will base their rate on the number of rooms. And others will use the number of viewpoints.

Some agencies will also charge you based on the types of services you use. For instance, they may charge a premium for editing and stitching.

Or they may upcharge you for posting your video to your website or Google.

In the end, many business owners find an all-inclusive fee of not more than $35 per viewpoint to be fair.

They should include onsite shooting, editing, stitching, and uploading your video to your marketing platforms, including GBP, of course.

What Do Professional Services Include?

Here again, it depends on which agency you hire. Some may provide just a few of the services below in their package. Adding on any others may require additional charges.

However, the best agency packages should include:

  • Free consultation via a phone call
  • An onsite walkthrough (walk through each viewpoint to tally project scope)
  • Travel time to and from your business to our office
  • Viewpoint recordings “a-la-carte” as needed
  • Individual viewpoints (still photos) shot
  • Finalized 360° Virtual Tour of your business
  • Google Street View integration
  • Google Maps integration
  • QR Code to 360° Virtual Tour
  • Enhanced Google Search Results
  • Free snippet to display 360° Virtual Tour on your website
  • No recurring fees – one-time fee

What’s the Process Like from Start to Finish?

Since most business owners will choose to work with a professional virtual tour company instead of handling it themselves (typically cheaper), let’s go through what you can expect from that process.

Every agency will handle the process differently. But for most, the process will look something like this:

  • Consultation – This is when you’ll learn more about what to expect from your virtual tour and the process.
  • Site Walkthrough – Many agencies will conduct an onsite walkthrough to explore the details of your location, what viewpoints should be covered, and more.
  • Estimate – After adding up the number of viewpoints that’s right for your location, assessing the editing involved, and factoring in other price considerations, you’ll receive a custom estimate for the process.
  • Approval & Scheduling – After you’ve accepted the terms, you’ll work together to figure out a proper time and date to schedule your Google 360 Virtual Tour.
  • Onsite Recordings – On the shoot, the photography team will move from viewpoint to viewpoint capturing 360-degree images of your business.
  • Edit, Stitch & Complete – Once shooting is over, your team will head back to their space to edit the photos together and send the tour through quality assurance for the best outcome.
  • Delivery – Last but not least, your team will deliver the custom code for the tour so you can use it right on your website. Some agencies will even post it to your Google Business Profile listing for you as a part of the process.

How Do I Order a Google Virtual Tour?

A lot of work goes into creating a Google 360 Virtual Tour. But when done correctly, it can bring a massive boon of new customers to your door.

And though some SEO management agencies provide the service, not all will be able to create an end product that does your business justice.

If you’re looking to capture the benefits of a Google Virtual Tour for your St. Louis area business, look no further than Studio C5.

At Studio C5, we proudly put our clients’ businesses on the map (no pun intended).

Here’s what makes our service stand out.

  • Equipment – We’ve invested in some of the best motion-capturing technology in the industry. Our equipment reduces lens flare, allows for great depth of field in most lighting conditions, and provides superior noise reduction. Translation—we have the tech to create gorgeous, true-to-life images your customers will love.
  • Expertise – We know you’re busy. And we know when you invest in your business, you expect results. That’s why we follow a proven seven-step process to make creating your virtual tour as seamless and as successful as possible. Don’t worry; you’re in good hands.
  • Experience – We’ve proudly been helping businesses like yours grow their online presence since 2009. Whether you’re a retailer, service provider, manufacturer, or any other type of business, we draw from a wealth of experience to produce the best results possible.

What Do Customers Say about Studio C5?

Watch what the owner of STL Windows and Doors has to say about our partnership and how we’ve been able to grow his family business.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

A Google 360 Virtual Tour can be a serious game-changer for your business. And when you partner with Studio C5 or have some preliminary questions, you can rest easy knowing you’re working with the best.

Are you interested in seeing what we can do for your business?

Request a free consultation today.