Frequently Asked Questions


What is Google Maps Business View?

Google Maps Business View (GMBV) is a 360° virtual self-guided tour and professional Point-of-Interest (POI) photos of your business, using Google Street View technology and appearing on Google Search and Google Maps. GMBV is only available through Google-certified Trusted Independent Photographers.

Is it a video? How is it different from a video?

A video takes the viewer from the beginning to the end, without the ability to stop & look around. A 360° interactive tour actively engages the viewer and lets them “Walkthrough” your business at their own pace, focusing on the areas they’re most interested in, taking time to really get a feel for who you are and what you do.

Is it for online shopping or e-commerce?

No. The purpose of Business View is to let people see the atmosphere and decor of your business. E-commerce is best done through an e-commerce website or app. We can assist you with that.

How can I use it to promote my business?

You can embed it on your own website, share it through social media, use linked QR codes in your print ads, etc. When someone asks to see your facilities you can send them to the tour.

What areas of my business will be covered on the tour?

A GMBV 360° virtual tour covers all relevant customer-accessible areas. Areas that are only used by staff and other employees are not covered.

How much does it cost?

The cost depends on the size and layout of the business but generally ranges from $600 – $3,000 +.  It depends on the number of photospheres necessary to create a 360° walk-through experience that showcases your business. A retail store or showroom with lots of aisles & displays will need more photospheres than a restaurant or gym with lots of wide-open spaces.

We also offer branded, menu-driven 360° tours for business websites featuring, video, chatbots, direct links and more.  Contact us directly to discuss your project at 360.810.4543

Are there any hidden costs or additional fees?

There is a one-time fee for us to shoot, process, and publish the Google / Facebook 360° tour and stills.  After that it’s free.

The customized, menu-driven 360° uses the basic tour as its foundation and operates on a build + subscription basis.  Call us for details.

Who owns it? Who owns the rights to it?

Google owns the virtual tour and Online Business Tours owns the still photos.  You are granted unlimited rights to use the tour and still photos for marketing, advertising, and any other uses you see fit. Online Business Tours retains the right to use the tour and photos for promotional purposes.

Where does it show up?

The virtual tour and stills are hosted on Google Maps. They are linked and displayed on Google Chrome/Maps, Internet Explorer/Edge, Apple Safari, Firefox, and Brave where they show up on a business’s Knowledge Graph and Information frame.

Why is Google Maps Business View better than other 360° virtual tours?

Google has taken steps to ensure the quality of GMBV virtual tours through the training & certification of their photographers, and the required use of approved equipment. In addition, only official GMBV virtual tours are hosted on Google Maps and appear in a Google Search.

Yellow Pages offers free virtual tours. Why should I pay for GMBV?

To get a “free” virtual tour from YP you have to pay monthly for their other services, so it isn’t really free. GMBV offers higher quality, higher resolution HDR imagery for a bright welcoming look and GMBV navigation is more intuitive. 97% of all online usage worldwide is done using Google to search for local businesses vs. 12% for YP, so a GMBV virtual tour will be seen by many more people than one on YP. GMBV tours are prominently featured where people are looking… YP tours only show up on YP.com.

What happens if I remodel or change our decorations seasonally?

Online Business Tours offers a 5 % discount for seasonal or remodeling reshoots.

Does it affect my Search Engine Ranking?

SER is affected by a wide variety of factors, including visual imagery. A GMBV virtual tour adds rich visual imagery to your online presence, which will boost your search rank. Online activity also affects SER, so embedding it on your website and sharing it through social media will help.

How do I know if it’s bringing in business? How can I track the ROI?

You can track it through increased traffic from Google Search to your website. By embedding it on your website you can track it through page views and retention. By sharing it on social media you can track it through the response of your followers. Many new customers coming through the door will tell you they decided to come in after taking the virtual tour. Because it’s a one-time expense, your ROI will continue to improve over time.

Are there any plugins or enhancements for Business View?

There are some third-party plugins for GMBV, but the bugs haven’t been worked out yet. When we are confident that the user experience won’t be affected, we will offer those plugins as additional services.

What types of locations are eligible for ‘Google Business View’?

A variety of locations are eligible including restaurants, wedding venues, salons, gyms, retail stores, department stores, auto repair shops, art galleries, auto dealerships, corporate offices, medical facilities, government offices, leasing offices, and more.  Check out this list and the gallery of tours for examples.

Dental clinics, laser clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics, physical therapy centers, ultrasound centers and Pre-K to 12 schools are eligible if they are open during the daytime only and have no residential facility.

Places of historical, cultural, thematic and tourism significance are eligible but may have already been claimed by Google’s Special Collects Department. These places include (this list is not exhaustive) churches, museums, castles, tourism centers and repositories of ancient historical and cultural artifacts.

Apartments, homes, mental health clinics, abortion clinics, trauma centers, rehabilitation centers, addiction treatment centers, police/military facilities, detention centers and jails are not eligible.

How is the tour created? What kind of equipment is used?

Google Trusted Independent Photographers use approved DSLR cameras and fisheye lenses to take a series of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography.

I have a really great camera. Why can’t I do this myself?

Only Google Trusted Independent Photographers have access to the software and portal to upload the tour directly to Google Maps. While other photographers can shoot & create virtual tours, they can’t offer the benefits of Google hosting and visibility.

My Google Maps / Search / + listing is incorrect. Can you help me fix it?

Yes. In many cases, we can submit corrections to your business’s Google information. These corrections are usually live within 72 hours.?

My Google Maps Street View imagery is old. Can you update it?

No. Google sets its own schedule for Street View updates, usually once every few years.

Are you an employee or a contractor? Who pays you?

We are visual content providers to Google.  We get paid by the client who contracts us to help stage, take both 360° and still photography, process, moderate and update their businesses listing as it appears on Google Maps & Search.

My business gets calls from Google all the time. Why won’t they leave me alone?

Frustrated with deceptive Google calls? You’re not alone (and we share your frustration!)

Annoyed by those persistent calls claiming to be from Google? Welcome to the club! We understand how exasperating these fake offers and supposed “free” virtual tours can be for you, and we’re here to address the issue head-on.

Let’s be clear: Google doesn’t engage in cold-calling. Period. They won’t reach out to you unexpectedly to update your search information or peddle SEO services. Those calls you receive are often from SEO or credit card companies masquerading as Google, aiming to entice you into committing to their monthly fees.

Watch out for the “Free” GMBV Tour Trap:

Some scammers may offer a “free” Google My Business virtual tour to sweeten the deal. Don’t fall for it! These so-called “freebies” typically come with limitations:

Basic coverage: Just one exterior and one basic interior photosphere.
Hidden costs: The seemingly free offer masks significant hidden monthly fees, making a genuine GMBV tour the more cost-effective choice in the long run.

Opt for a Trusted Independent Photographer:

Reliable quality: We are seasoned experts dedicated to creating breathtaking, immersive 360° tours that present your business in the best possible light.
Transparent pricing: With us, there are no hidden fees – you pay once for a phenomenal tour and enjoy the enduring benefits.

Remember: If you ever question the legitimacy of a call, it’s best to hang up and directly contact Google. Don’t let scammers take advantage of your trust and hard work.

Shield yourself. Opt for quality. Choose a Trusted Independent Photographer.


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