The Benefits and Process of Being Certified
I’m Kendra Marie Sakoian, and I work as a Photographer and Director of Marketing and Creative Design at Eagle Ray Productions, a virtual tour company based out of Pennsylvania. We are certified Google Trusted Photographers, and I’ve had a lot of experience utilizing Google’s backend Pano Editor to submit tours to the Google platforms. I’m excited to share my knowledge about the benefits of being certified by Google, as well as how you can get involved.
In a nutshell, the Google Street View | Trusted Program is a certification program that allows those who fulfill certain requirements to become Google Trusted Photographers. A Google Trusted Photographer has the ability to upload virtual tours directly to Google platforms, which can then be seen by users on all of Google’s platforms (and on any screen or monitor) via the business’s “See Inside” button.
How can being a Google Trusted Photographer help me?
There are a lot of benefits of being a Google Trusted Photographer, both for the photographers and for their clients. Here are a few of them:
- Competitive Advantage – The certification gives you a leg up on the competition. In Pennsylvania, there are over 6,600 photographers, but only 22 Google Trusted Photographers.
- SEO – Your clients’ SEO is going to be bumped up significantly (especially in local searches).
- Exclusive Google Access – Only Google Trusted Photographers have the ability to submit tours directly to Google.
- Free Hosting! Your virtual tours need to be hosted somewhere, and without being a Google Trusted Photographer, you will need to do this on your own. However, when you become certified in the GTP program, you are able to utilize Google as the web hosting service for your virtual tours – for free! In addition to reducing your cost of doing business and ensuring that your virtual tours will be hosted by some of the most reliable servers out there, you will be forgoing the complications involved with doing all of the hosting on your own.
- Free Pano Software – Google Trusted Photographers can use Google’s desktop Pano Editor, so you don’t have to pay for any special software.
- Featured on Google’s “Photographer For Hire” Index – When businesses are looking for a photographer in your area, Google will recommend you. You’ll be listed under that state, with a link to your website and your phone number. Anyone searching Google for a Virtual Tour will be lead towards your page, so it’s a free and direct way to reach clients!
- Retain ‘Independent Contractor’ Status – As a certified Google Trusted Photographer, you are considered a fully independent business entity, NOT an employee of Google. That means that you can conduct your business how you’d like! You can charge what you want, and have the freedom to create your own processes.
When our main photographer was working on his certification in early 2016, the process was relatively simple. However, the process tends to change frequently. For up to date information about getting accepted in the program, head on over to this Street View page detailing requirements. Currently, in order to get certified, you need to upload and publish fifty “360 photos,” and you’ll get an invitation to join the Local Guides program as a trusted professional.
It took around 4 months for our photographer to gain his certification. Your fifty 360 photos will need to pass their quality control, and the specific requirements of these can be found here. As long as your images correctly represent the place you’re photographing (no text, borders, or collages in the image), are the correct aspect ratio (2:1), at least 5,300 x 2,650 pixels, and doesn’t include advertising or promotional content in the image (small logos are allowed, but email address and phone numbers are not), you’ll be good to go!
The Street View Trusted Group, which is a forum available to certified photographers, is a GREAT resource for information. Trusted photographers to post their questions and interact with each other, and topics include recent updates to the program, problems that they’re having, different examples of their work for feedback, etc. At our company, we have signed up for daily summaries of the posts that are going on, so we can constantly see what’s going on in the group.
One downside for many users is that it can be difficult to get in contact with an actual person at Google if you have questions. Once you get certified, you may have luck by reporting an issue through the form on Google Groups. And although I have not had luck emailing them directly, you might get a response by just emailing the support team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this has given you some insight to the Google Street View | Trusted Program. The program has been great for our business, and I highly recommend getting involved.