Google has launched a new initiative to get more small businesses using 360 degree and high quality images on search pages, G+, Google Maps, and Google Places and local pages. The new Google Business Photos site includes a list of Trusted Photographers in and around a limited number of UK cities, but Google are actively seeking businesses requesting photographers to join the program and help businesses to use images in search and on Google properties more effectively.
The resulting photos after a shoot are stitched together using panoramic technology to create a 360 image which allows zoom, pan, tilt etc and hence permits website visitors to get a great experience of how it will be to visit your business. This is not only suitable for retail outlets, museums, gyms and salons, but also for restaurants, cafes, hotels, B and Bs - infact, nearly every business could benefit from this.
The photos are stitched together - you can do this yourself with apps such as Photosynth - and can then be used on your own website, as well as on Google properties such as Google Places etc. You can also upload your own 360 photos to Google Places etc if you wish, and embed these photos elsewhere with a small HTML snippet.
There would seem to be a likelihood that Google is looking to add an extra dimension to Streetview by allowing users of SV to virtually enter businesses with these photos, which would be an interesting development, and make a useful marketing addition to SV for businesses.
AdWords Express vouchers are being offered to the first who take up this offer, but the vouchers expire on 31st March 2012 so you need to act fast.