Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
Google Local Shows Photos to Match the User Query – And what it Means to You
Google Local has always been aggravating when it comes to showing your photos. Google would swap out your photos seemingly randomly. Your carefully chosen profile photo would suddenly disappear and be replaced with a skanky alternative of Google’s choosing. There never seemed to be rhyme or reason.
But I have noticed that changing. Not the fact that they are swapping out photos. No Google can’t resist that.
But the fact that there appears to be a rhyme or reason. Or at least the beginnings of one.
Google has the best image recognition technology of the major players and that seems to be finally impacting local results.
In this screen grab of the new Local Scroll Pack this use of image recognition to match the user query is both obvious AND accurate. The query was about engagement rings and Google showed an engagement ring instead of the profile photo for Barbara Oliver’s listing.
What does this mean for your business? Well given Google’s penchant for wanting to answer a users query and their belief that they can pick a photo better than you, it means the same thing that it always has. It means you need to upload lots of great photos so that no matter which one Google chooses it is a good one.
But now it also means that you really need to be thinking about photos that reflect the broad range of products and services that you deliver and that users might be searching on. If you carry wedding bands and engagement rings and earrings and necklaces you will want to be sure that you have great photos of each. And that they are easily identified in the image.
Will Google continue to screw up your images? Yes.
As you can see in this research by Eric Enge at Perficient Digital Google (and the other tech giants) has made great gains in being able to tag photos. That being said, they still are not as proficient at it as you and I.
Thus you will have to continue to spoon feed great photos and lots of them to the machine that is Google if you want a fighting chance of looking great to searchers.
But expect that Google will continue to try to match your photos to user queries and will hopefully be improving as they go.
Just how accurate has Google gotten? Take a look at this chart from Perficient Digital’s research:
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It’s just too bad that you can’t add captions to the images you upload (other than the logo).
All other factors being equal between two businesses (which we all know is virtually impossible in Local search), could there ever be a day when Google decides to display Business A before Business B for a query for “engagement rings” because the former has uploaded a photo of an engagement ring and the latter has not? Maybe seems like a stretch right now, but think about it from the user’s perspective: even if both businesses sell engagement rings, wouldn’t it be helpful to see an actual photo of one to further validate in their mind that the business sells them?
Thanks for this article! We’ve noticed this so we really to optimize and only upload good and relevant photos for our clients.
Does this only apply to product and services images? I’m curious how much image names and geo-tagging play a role in images appearing at the top of search results. Any insight on this?
As far as we can tell none. Google strips all names and renamed per their conventions, almost every image already is geocoded and google already knows where you are.
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