We receive many enquiries requesting information about photographing a Google Street View for a business. Among other questions, one of the most frequently asked questions is if having a 360 virtual tour has a positive impact on their listing in Google.
Many SEO experts seem to agree that by adding a Street View feature to a business listing this has a positive impact on the way the website is ranked on a search. But that stance is something very difficult to prove. How many positions exactly will a business website gain? How long does it take to have an effect? Does this effect expire?
Those are questions that Google itself can’t answer, and for this reason it doesn’t have a clear position in this regards.
An independent online survey was carried out in 2015 in order to establish the benefits of having a 360 virtual tour of the business by Street View. They created different versions of a business listing for a restaurant and a hotel. One version included basic information only and the other version included photographs and/or a 360 virtual tour.
Between July 21st and August 2nd, slightly over 1000 consumers where asked to take a look at both versions of the hotel and the restaurant listing, in a randomised order. Then they rated each listing based on their interest in booking a reservation.
These are some of the findings that the survey concluded.
When searching for businesses, consumers use mapping products 44% of the time
Consumers spend almost half of the time of their search time in looking at the listing including a map and its different features.
This corroborates the very well known fact that media and images are more stimulating than text only, and hence consumers are keen to spend more time viewing them rather than plain text.
Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest
The more visually attractive the listing, the more interest this generates in the customer. 360 virtual tours offer the chance of not only taking a look inside the business premises, but also a way to interact with the location and explore the different areas inside.
On average, 41% of these place searches result in an on-site visit
As a result of offering a more stimulating listing which includes some visual content, the user is more likely to visit the business website.
This survey demonstrates that regardless of the possible SEO benefits, compared to listings not featuring a 360 virtual tour, a Street View listing contributes much more to direct potential customers to your business.
For more information on the impact of search listings for local businesses we recommend reading the following PDF written by Google: