As a local business owner in today’s digital landscape it is more important than ever to have an understanding of how new technologies & media can benefit your business, however this can sometimes feel like a full time job in itself. For each success story of profits skyrocketing thanks to some digital marketing maverick, there is another of an SEO charlatan taking money for no tangible results.

3D virtual tours are a new technology that allow potential customers to explore your business from a smartphone, tablet or computer. This content clearly has an initial wow factor but how can a local business with a modest budget see a return, and is it worth the investment? Here, we will outline some of the ways in which having a 3D virtual tour really benefits smaller, local businesses.

Local SEO, Behavioral Signaling & The 3D Virtual Tour Effect

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as the name suggests, involves optimizing your businesses digital footprint, so that search engines such as Google, display and prioritize your business to people searching relevant terms.  Most business owners, be they smaller or larger enterprises, understand the importance of being visible to their customers online but a large number still employ no local SEO strategy. This is reasonably unsurprising, as SEO sometimes seems something of a “dark art” with actual results being not black and white, and taking a minimum of three months to show. However, recent updates in Google’s analytic tools, such as Google My Business (GMB) pages, are making ‘understanding how your business is performing’ in SEO terms, much simpler and easier. Businesses who have embraced these tools have been able to gain real insight and valuable knowledge, as to how to be more’ visible’ (and therefore accessible) than their competitors.

Local SEO is an effective way to market your business online. It helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers at the exact time they’re looking for them.

Google determines a business’s search ranking through a variety of factors – one of the more important of these factors are behavioral signals. Behavioral signals produce data that help Google understand what characteristics of a business to focus on, and how to better match them to users searching online. For example, through information gathered via click through rates (CTR), mobile searches, online check-ins and other data, Google will understand that someone searching ‘where can I get a coffee?’ will want to see the closer proximity coffee shops at the top of their search results.

So, how does a 3D virtual tour impact behavioural signals to improve local SEO?

As with all things SEO, the answer is a complex one. To help explain how 3D virtual tours impact behavioral signaling, I will continue with the coffee shop scenario:

When someone searches in Google for a place to get a coffee, they are presented with search results consisting of the Google My Business (GMB) pages of cafés in the local area. If a local café has a virtual tour linked to it’s GMB page, the person searching will be able to click on an image & explore the Café. As virtual tours are proven to triple the amount of time someone interacts with a business, Google will understand that people are spending longer looking at this Café compared with the competitors, so will then improve the Café’s local SEO ranking. This has also proven to have a direct effect on increasing bookings, as Google offers a ‘contact now’ button, and so those interacting with the virtual tour are able to express interest directly, without having to go to a different page and are more likely to do so, as they have spent time looking around the tour and immersing themselves within the premises.

This is an overly simplified example as to how, by having a 3D virtual tour, it will help a business provide behavioural signalling data, and is by no means the only way of using a 3D virtual tour to improve local SEO. Google’s algorithms are complex and intelligent and having this type of interactive and engaging content benefits local SEO rankings in a variety of ways

3D Virtual Tours Encourage Interaction And Engagement

Providing digital content that generates high levels of engagement is one of the most important and cost effective ways that a business of any size can connect with it’s customers, with each new comment, like and share, opening the possibility of a new network of potential consumers being exposed to your brand. This is especially vital for local businesses, who may not have large budgets to churn out a huge amount of hit or miss media, and instead must focus on key pieces of impactful content that ensure a high return on investment.

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3D virtual tours are a perfect tool to display other media

As mentioned at the start of this post, 3D virtual tours are a new technology that provide an interactive experience for the end user. Due to the interactive nature of the content, having a 3D virtual tour embedded on a website has proven to triple the amount of time a user spends on that page, and the longer a visitor interacts with a businesses website, the more likely they are to connect with that business and convert into a new customer.

3D virtual tours can also act as a hub for a business’s other multimedia and sales content, with interactive data-points offering the opportunity to embed video, text, images, music and hyperlinks into the 3D space, creating a 3D “virtual library” of content that an end user can explore.

They’re a completely new form of immersive 3D media that invites you to explore a place as if you were really there.

Besides being embedded on a website and acting as a hub for other media, 3D virtual tours also offer the opportunity to create a potentially limitless amount of content with hi resolution snapshots taken of, or in the space that can be shared across social media or added into print media designs. A range of impressive video content can also be created using the 3D virtual tour, from video walkthroughs that would usually require a videographer to visit the business to “God’s eye” overviews of the 3D model, this level of impressive video content can be a powerful way to generate traffic and showcase a brand when distributed across platforms such as Facebook and Youtube.

To find out more about having a 3D virtual tour created for your business, including cost, the process & how we can support you, send us a message here

Quote 01 – Bright Local

Quote 02 – Matterport

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