Google have recently announced some major changes to the Google Street View Trusted platform that will also see changes to Google Search and Google Maps.
Google Street View – Comparison of before and after ‘See Inside’ removal
What is the ‘Google Street View trusted’ platform?
For anyone wondering what the ‘Google Street View Trusted platform’ is vs ‘Google Street View’ it’s the virtual tour platform ‘Google Trusted Photographers’ have been using to publish ‘business Streetview imagery’ vs the imagery collected by Street View cars. It’s also been known by a few other names over the years including ‘Google business view’ and ‘Google business photos’.
Google Street View App Launched in September 2015
The Google Street View Trusted platform experienced what could be considered as a hard fork back in September 2015 when Google launched their Street View App which allowed users to add 360 imagery to Google Maps using either their smartphones or a number of one shot cameras, such as the Ricoh Theta S and later the Samsung Gear 360. Previously users could add 360 degree panoramic imagery with the ‘Google Views’ platform and Panoramio but these older platforms didn’t allow imagery to be associated with a business. This changed with the introduction of the Street View App as users were now able to not only create, upload and link imagery but also add it to a business listing and even transfer ownership to that business. Before the introduction of the App the only way to add ‘Google Street View imagery’ to a business listing was to hire a ‘Google Trusted Photographer’ to photograph a business and add it through a desktop Street View editor that wasn’t publically accessible.
Google Street View Publishing Fork
The reason a publishing fork was created is that until recently imagery could be added through both of the different platforms each with it’s own advantages and disadvantages.
Business imagery published through the App had view counts, a fantastic addition and one the trusted photographer community had been asking for since the beginning of the program. However the App has drawbacks which make publishing any more than a handful of panoramas difficult. Also Street View tours published with the app didn’t create the coveted ‘See inside’ link in Google search results.
The desktop editor therefore remained the prefered choice for many even with no access to view counts as moderation or editing of tours, especially larger ones, was more practical whilst also allowing entry view and panorama choice for the See inside link in Google Search.
Google also announced a new Beta API, (Application Interface), released to selected developers to enable the creation of alternative Street View publishing platforms to run alongside the official App, with the old desktop editor becoming officially retired on the 16th April 2017. Imagery published through the API platforms has identical properties to that published through the App with no ‘See inside’ link in Google Search but with basic view count analytics.
What Happens Next?
Now that the desktop editor has been retired this fork in the ‘Street View’ publication pipeline is being merged into the new system with all historic imagery being migrated into the App. Google have said they will be migrating view counts too with further updates to come on this once the process begins. This could be really interesting especially for businesses who were early adopters. We are not expecting detailed analytics, probably only overall view counts but who knows Google might just surprise us.
See Inside links in a business’s knowledge graph in Google Search will be removed, most probably being replaced with the ‘See Outside’ Image thumb/bar currently available which links to that business’s main image Carousel.
Panorama view-points, the starting orientation of a panorama, presented as thumbnail images in Google Maps and the image carousel will be driven by AI, which is already providing businesses with some rather strange results such as initial panoramic views facing walls as well as other less desirable angles. Google have announced they are working on this so hopefully with the development of platforms such as Google Lens the algorithms will get smarter and display more desirable viewing angles.
Google have also announced that there will be a number of ranking factors when it comes to carousel image positioning and dominance. With free badges, (other awards are apparently available), being offered to the swarms of Google Local Guides for tagging businesses in mobile phone photos, it’s now more important than ever that any business looking to control their image carousel create their own site specific, in the case of chains, up to date imagery in both standard and panoramic formats. I’ll be following up on this topic with another blog post shortly so watch this space.
Last and maybe least for some is that the orange dots on Google Maps, that you could drag the Street View Peg man too to jump inside a business Street View tour, are leaving us. Don’t worry they’ll be replaced with Blue Dots!