I was using Google Maps recently to map out my trek from my hotel in Manhattan to the site of an upcoming conference I’m attending. It’s about 8 blocks and Google Maps pinpointed the exact streets I should take. Perfect! But wait, could Google Street View offer even more detail about what I might see on my walk?
My hotel is in a part of Midtown Manhattan in which I have not stayed before so I was curious to see what was around my hotel. So, I click on street view, grab the little Google Street View person icon and drag it to my hotel. Bingo, I have a 360 degree of what is around my hotel. In fact, I decided to take a virtual stroll of the immediate neighborhood. Ah, perfect – a local pub that might be nice after a long conference day. Oooh…a couple restaurants on the block…I’ll have to check those out.
Wait! What is happening here? Have I already picked out some destinations in which to visit based on my virtual map view? Absolutely. So, what does this mean for local businesses? Is there opportunity in Google Street View to market your local storefront?
To get more background Google has a nice, creative page and video up describing Google Street View. But, here is a screen shot from my virtual stroll:
Wow, that is fantastic! I’m standing in the middle of a Manhattan street and not getting run down by taxis! I just click on the arrows and I can walk right up the street or even turn onto another street. I can spin all around to see what is around me.
Okay, now that I’m over that new toy feeling, let’s ponder for a second what this means for store fronts in Google street view or even office space in high rises. In my virtual walk, I tended to zoom in on store fronts that were brighter, unique and grabbed my attention. That’s how I found my pub. I even zoomed in on an office building window that looked like it had something written on it – but, the zoom in got blurry and I couldn’t read it.
What I’m getting at is that the optimizing for search engines just got – sort of – physical. Are we to the point where you not only have to optimize your site for local search but also optimize your store front for virtual map results? If this becomes common, there is a good chance you could affect your business positively by grabbing the attention of people like me who are planning trips and will soon be walking down your street.
Now, before you go and paint bright colors on your windows know that I have no idea how often Google updates these images. I’m not 100% sure of this, but I believe they are taken by trucks with cameras mounted on them that drive the streets to gather images. I’m sure that will not be an occurence that happens often.
But, you can make sure you’ve taken the necessary steps to show up in local results for people that search for such things as restaurants near a geographical location. I did that search as well. Google found the restaurants within a few blocks and I virtually walked right up and looked in the window. I have some very appealing places to check out!