5 Reasons Why the New Google Business Photos Image Search Sucks

Google has yet to make any announcements vis a vis providing business photos to the Knowledge Panel via Image Search rather than from the GMB and Google Maps. Whether the change is permanent or “just a test” we do not know. It is very widespread though and appears to be the new normal. Google’s new normal is always more than a touch abnormal and this case is no different.

But we do know that there are problems with using Google Image search in lieu of business provided photos, some of which probably can be resolved and some of which can not.

Here are some of the issues that I see:

1- Google is very good on parsing user intent on partial searches and delivering the One Box when appropriate. However these same partial searches might return total crap for imagery. For example if you search for “Barbara Oliver Jewelry” and you click through to the images, you will get mostly relevant images. But if you search on the more common but less complete “Barbara Oliver” and click through the profile photo in the One Box with the specific intent of seeing more photos you get totally irrelevant photos:

barbara oliver Google Search

2- When a user does a local keyword search and clicks through to the Local Finder and explores the profile images, Google is still presenting the traditional More Photos view with images from the Google My Business Dashboard and ugc from Maps. Should a business be expected to manage and monitor images at both the GMB and Image search?


3-Google My Business has provided a structured, relatively easy place to add photos that would be one click away from your Knowledge Panel. A business could put a stake in it and, for the most part, understand how to use it and have some modicum of control over the images that showed. Should small businesses now have to learn about Google Image Search SEO to have control over the images?

target amanda lane orchard park Google Search4-Some listings, mostly larger brands and hotels, are still delivering the “original” See Photos option. Is that because they are using bulk upload? Will that continue to be the case? Will brands with bulk be handled differently than SMBs?

5- Some local listings from the same company have it one way and some have it the other. In the case of Busch Gardens, which has two locations, one goes to Image Search and the other to the See Photos box. What gives? Is it because they are slightly different types of Knowledge Panels? Will a business have both types to deal with?

Google, in typical fashion, is not making life easy but worse they are not communicating about what is going on with one of a business’s most important digital asset, their Knowledge Panel. (Oops I forgot it’s not the business’s, it’s Google’s.)

Google, Google, Google. Complexity instead of simplicity. Change instead of consistency. Insular instead of communicative. Its no wonder that most businesses throw up their hands in disgust.

I'm smart; you're dumb. I'm big; you're little. I'm right; you're wrong . I am always reminded of Danny Devito in Matilda when dealing with Google.
I’m smart; you’re dumb. I’m big; you’re little. I’m right; you’re wrong . I am always reminded of Danny Devito in Matilda when dealing with Google.
Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
5 Reasons Why the New Google Business Photos Image Search Sucks by

9 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why the New Google Business Photos Image Search Sucks”

  1. Well Said, Mike. I understand why Google wants more photos uploaded from business owners, but do users really need to see “photos at work” and “team photos” from every company on the internet? Seems a bit excessive to me.

  2. Nice comments, Mike. One can wonder. Are they experimenting? I think not. My default on all these changes is that google has changed from a search engine to a Google results engine. Except that the public doesn’t realize it.

    Why did they make this change? Experimentation as referenced above. Or do they want to slowly but surely continue to strip traffic from websites? That is what I always tend to think now.

    They have done this continuously and regularly for years. On a gross basis with regard to photos in late January 2013 they absolutely crushed image search to websites. Do you recall that? If not: review this article. http://www.definemg.com/how-googles-image-search-update-killed-image-seo/

    Gigantic traffic losses from image search, ranging from 60-80% of image search traffic. It crushed many websites.

    One of our local sites had one very high ranking image for two phrases, plus reasonably high organic rankings. After the change we lost 2/3 of our traffic to that landing page.

    We lost 2/3 of our traffic to that page!!!!

    Its a traffic killer to websites. Do users care? Evidently not. They haven’t been screaming at google. Google has simply great press.

    Do website owners care? Of course.

    And what is the endless result in Google world? More ads on google.

    What more is there to say?

  3. Mike: I have to add something. Nobody outside of Google will have any idea what consumers are doing if and when they click on pictures in KP. In fact nobody outside of google knows what occurs when people were clicking on the pictures.

    N.O.B.O.D.Y. but google. If people were to let loose with a huge clamor. “Give US BACK OUR PICTURES” and some hack from Google PR gave us the same old same old…its for better user experience.—-HOW WOULD ANYONE KNOW????

    Only google knows. Only google. Could be they are experimenting. Could it be that behind the experiment is a thought process that relies on …..how can we continue to minimize organic traffic to sites???? Could be. We don’t know….but that is the process that has been occurring for years, one way or the other.

    But nobody knows. Except for Google. And they aren’t telling us, because nobody pushes them. And all we typically hear is ….its for “better user experience”.

    And if you don’t believe that they keep working to minimize organic/maps traffic to smb sites….I have a BEUUUTIFUL bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you for a very affordable price!!!!

  4. And…not to let a dead horse die….still another comment:

    I looked at photo’s with regard to our smb’s and those of competitors.

    Among the photos showing for our smb’s are photos related to competitors. Among the photos for competitors are photos related to our smbs.

    Image search…is somewhat like organic search….depending on the depth of “barnacle seo” you might have connected to your own site and the lack thereof….there are opportunities for competitors to show in organic results for a search for your Name.

    Suppose I was a customer interested in Barbara Oliver Jewelry, but I don’t recall the specific’s of the business name.

    So I search on Williamsville, NY Jewelry Barbara. Alternative I recall the city, but don’t search on her name or even part of her name.

    For image search on Williamsville NY jeweler (or jewelry) Barbara, I get images that (at least the first big group) are all attributed to her site.

    For image search on Williamsville NY Jeweler (jewely) I get her images first (BRAVO) and then those of competitors.

    If one does click on the central image it takes you to the page. If its an internal page on your site–> Good!!!!!

    BUT –Here is the rub. Suppose I start labeling pictures with titles that get me into image search for those of competitors.

    You know: Like Oyster.com. When my photos do show up in image search ….AND if a user clicks on those images….they will go to my web pages wherein the image sticks!!!!

    I can STEAL the traffic. Now we don’t do that. Our traffic isn’t significant enough to make a difference to our operations. But others do!!!!

    Oyster does it a relatively lot…as you documented elsewhere. Frankly on the combination of ads and KB results in mobile, I think google accommodates advertisers to misdirect traffic….and has. Florists are great examples.

    So dammit…someone searches on your business by name….and google is setting up scenarios wherein others can steal the business!!! Google is setting it up.

    Seriously: the day google set up the knowledge box…..and all of its twists and turns…was the deadly day when google started to set up ways to steal/misdirect/divert and move your traffic…let alone ways to make you aware you better advertise with google…otherwise nobody will find you!!!!

    My $0.02 for the day—:D

  5. @John
    Google knows what people want and they should be able to surmise what they need in the way of photos and they should make that obvious and easy for the business owner to fulfill.

  6. Geez, sometimes this whole business is… frustrating. And Google is frankly stupid/smart/ruthless.
    Great post Mike and great insight from Dave!

    For a business that hates manipulation, does it seem like Google encourages it – to anyone else?

  7. so how do you fix the problem? Is this something I can do from my google account or is it something google has to do from their end? My business albums show up fine at see outside but fail when you click on see photos. Kinda lame to have potential clients be directed to a generic page that does not represent my business. Please help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments links could be nofollow free.