Google-hosted Virtual Tours critically impact foot traffic and SEO

A whole section of your Google My Business account dashboard is dedicated to 360 Virtual Tours. Of the 30+ optimizations that can made to your GMB profile, Virtual Tours are the most stunning and impactful. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a 360° View is worth a thousand choose-your-ending stories. Google Maps, the foremost and highest content to load in most searches, features locations in all their virtual glory to help potential visitors gain trust and knowledge. Bounce rate on your GMB profile is slashed tremendously by users lingering around and clicking through the interactive interface, dramatically increasing conversion rate. If there’s one thing to glean from this post, it’s that Matterport’s native tours DO NOT directly help your Google presence and foot traffic like this at all.

SUMMARY: We’re big fans of Google’s proven track record for stable conversion increases from 360 tours. Simple, bold navigation that is familiar to everyone rules with Maps integration and generally lower cost. Both platforms require certified photographers to officially review, edit, approve and submit a final product. Google-partnered photographers can use their own cameras, while Matterport photographers usually need Matterport’s cameras (thus Matterport translates to a higher entry cost for an elite camera- one that’s only meant for virtual tours). Although Matterport does approve a few other devices like certain iPhones, we don’t recommend using phones or cheap one-shot 360 cameras to do the job. Google is more flexible, while Matterport cameras might be slightly simpler to use since they have minimal features compared to industry-standard cameras like a Canon Mark II or Sony a7rIII. Matterport tours tend to be extremely similar and consistent in look and feel. The wider variety of Google photographers allows for nearly limitless styles.

Custom menus, media, buttons, and calls to action are embedded with OptiView 360’s Tours.

Orthodontic Virtual Tour Guide

Now for some basic tenets:

  1. Google is the #1 location service in the world.
  2. Matterport virtual tours depend on expensive proprietary cameras, their own hosting or less reliable photographers’ hosting, and Matterport managers to maintain tours through frequent changes. Google changes are less frequent and more reliable. In fact, Google automatically applies updates; they host tours freely and indefinitely. Matterport tours have been lost or interrupted from subscription issues and account management issues and may not stay up to par as long with Matterport’s platform changes.
  3. Matterport has much higher hosting costs, tiers of subscription plans, and a more complicated process: camera capture points must be planned approximately every 5 ft throughout the location for their computer to render a 3D dollhouse type of view. This substantially adds to photographers’ costs.
  4. Google standards have relaxed slightly, so you may see many cheap photographers using low-quality one-shot 360 cameras. While this can lower the cost, the quality of your Google Maps featured visuals will drop way too far. Make sure your photographer uses only properly-edited 4K images from a professional wide lens camera (color enhanced for a stunning, vibrant effect).
  5. Matterport navigation can be useful between floors and for an overall view, but is slightly sluggish to load initially and tough to navigate the inner rooms- especially for larger venues. Google Maps loads on demand, natively in Google Maps, and is faster initially. It also allows much more freedom for customization with options to embed a menu overlay and jump to any room or spot instantly.
  6. Google-powered virtual tours have unique embed options across social media platforms and YouTube, allowing great VR headset views, and easy flattening for 2D representations (panoramic style).
  7. Matterport cameras don’t cover the ceiling or floor directly above and below capture points well at all. The lenses simply aren’t built that way.
  8. Matterport cameras usually look great from a distance, but tend to lack a little bit of resolution during zoomed-in scenes.

Matterport makes equipment just for virtual tours, so they may seem like specialists to someone that’s never seen Google’s customizable options. However, Matterport’s inital load time is slightly slower. The brief three-second entry animation from zoomed out to zoomed seems cool the first couple times you see it, but the dollhouse preview look may feel out of place for professional business. This subjectively varies from person to person, some hate it, some don’t. Matterport upkeep costs change periodically- ranging from hundreds to thousands per year.

In 2020, Matterport had two camera products and 4 monthly subscription plans:

  1. Starter $9.99 USD
  2. Pro $69
  3. Pro Plus $129
  4. Business $309

Matterport’s flagship camera, the Pro2 3D, costs $3,395 and their Pro2 Lite 3D costs $2,495. After these cameras have been out a while, photographers start to really question when the next hardware will be available and thus whether or not an immediate purchase of “old” equipment would be worth the price. Their cloud hosting plans range from $49 to $149 per month. The labor rate depends on the Matterport photographer. Reference:

Alternatively, Google Partner Photographers can use the professional equipment they already own (substantially cutting down on hardware cost), and Google 360 Virtual Tour hosting is currently only a one-time cost! Yes, currently in August 2020, purchase once and keep it forever! The labor rate depends on the Google photographer.

Questions? Give us a call for a free estimate and description of our Google-powered solutions! Learn more about OptiView 360’s Google-partnered 360° photography at

Written By: David Wong