Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t always judge a business by its exterior appearance. Yesterday we introduced Google Places and mentioned that we’re now starting a pilot project in select cities worldwide to take photographs of business interiors.

When customers are searching for the right local business, the setting, facilities, ambiance, merchandise, layout, or decor can be important factors in choosing where to go. If you want to find the perfect romantic restaurant for your anniversary dinner, you’ll want to find a place that has the right atmosphere. Or if you need to find a new gym, you’ll probably want to see what sort of equipment and amenities they offer. Place Pages currently feature images from business owners and third-party sources, but we wanted to supplement those with additional photos taken by Google photographers to provide consumers with more ways to get a sense of what awaits them when they step through the door of a business.

The photographs are shot by Google photographers who work directly with the business owner to arrange a time to do the photo shoot. Along with taking pictures of layout, facilities, and merchandise, we’ll also photograph displays on the storefront, like hours, rating decals, accessibility information, credit cards accepted, and posted menus — and all of this will be done at no cost to the business owner. These photos will also appear alongside the others on a business’ Place Page, and can help customers (and potential customers) get a better sense of what a business has to offer and what sets it apart from others. Here are some samples from our early tests:

Google is currently running a trial of this business photos project in approximately 30 cities across the US, Australia, and Japan. If you’d like your business to be considered for a visit from Google’s photographers, you can learn more and express your interest at http://maps.google.com/businessphotos. Right now we’re focusing on businesses like restaurants, cafes, hotels, spas, salons, gyms, and retail stores, but all are welcome to apply. Even though we’ll only be able to take pictures of a portion of those who apply due to the high demand, any business owner around the world can easily upload their own photographs and videos to their Place Page by logging in to Google Places.

Posted via web from webbuzz by urban-listening