Do you add photos to your Google Business Profile Listing regularly?
If you don’t because you think you’ve got better things to do, listen to this. According to Google, Businesses with photos on their Google Business Profile listings receive 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.
Google is able to understand the content of the photos you add to your listing using their Google Vision AI technology tool. Look at this dog grooming listing for example. If I take this picture and drop it in this tool, Google can easily detect this is a dog with 95% accuracy. What impact do you think this might have on this business’s listing?
If you want to know more and how you can use photos to drive more customers to your business, then keep on reading because I’ve got 4 killer photo tips for you.
As a small business owner, optimizing your Google My Business Listing should be a big part of your marketing strategy.
From gathering more Google reviews, publishing new question and answers or updating your business details with the latest Google my business features, there is no shortage of tasks if you want to stay on top of your game.
One of these tasks should be to add more pictures to your listing. And this is why.
People process images a lot faster than text, so images will speed up the visitor’s decision to do business with you and not skip to one of your competitors’ listing.
I've already mentioned that listings with photos will drive 42% more requests for direction on Google Maps and 35% more clicks to your site!
In the Google documentation it also says that “Accurate and appealing pictures may show shoppers that your business offers what they’re searching for” instead of the cover photo of your listing which is normally the one that gets used.
Here is an example, if I search for tyre sales Orlando, the picture displayed for the third result is some piled up tyres, but if I check the Google listing for this business their cover photo is a picture of their store.
This is because Google’s photo-recognition technology is now so advanced, it is able to identify and categorize objects within a picture.
Google deemed the tyre picture to be more relevant than the cover image of the listing itself.
And this is another very strong reason why you should add photos to your listing regularly.
Google scrapes every image you post on your business listing instantly and finds in these images what it thinks the content is and will associate these keywords directly with your listing.
Hopefully you now understand the importance of adding images to your listing, but the question is how do you make the most of them?
Let’s start with the basics.
When you first create a Google listing, you’re encouraged to add photos of past services or work you’ve done with customers.
While this is a great idea for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned it’s nowhere near enough and Google recommends you add category-specific photos.
These categories are detailed in your Google Business profile dashboard.
For instance, you should publish photos of the exterior of your location to help visitors recognize your business, photos of the interior of the location, so visitors can get a feel of the atmosphere, food and drink photos to showcase what people can expect to eat and drink if you are in the catering business, team photos that will bring a more personal feel to your listing etc…
Don’t skim through this exercise, think of it as your shop window. Is it tempting enough, so you want to walk into it?
To make sure you get it right I recommend you read the Business-specific photos recommendation resource from the Google help centre which details all the categories you need to consider, the minimum number of photos you should be adding for each category and what type of photos you should be taking.
Print this off, take your camera and start shooting, better still, invest in a professional photographer, who will do these for you, so it looks the part and helps you stand out from the competition. If there's one thing worse than no photos on your listing, its dark and blurry images with the vertical lines and horizon all off. You need bright, colourful and inviting photography (Ask us about our heavily discounted Photography Bundles for your business)
The list doesn’t include what comes under the identity category which is the cover photos that shows on your business panel and your logo so don’t forget to add these too.
There is also the option to add videos and a 360 degree virtual tour to your Google Street View listing, which I highly recommend you use as nothing keeps a customer interested in a listing more than a well shot 360 Virtual Tour.
And now for the killer tips.
Google Business Profile Photo Tip #1
There is a lot of spam on Google Maps and many local business owners create fake listings to be more visible. Google goes through a series of checks to verify the legitimacy of a business and one of those checks is done through imagery.
This means one of the most important image you can post on your listing is an image of the outside of your business that matches what Google is able to see via street view, like in this dentist example. This will show beyond doubt to Google your business truly exists.
That’s also why Google will ask for an outside image of your business that includes a plaque with your name and logo if your listing has been suspended, and you are asking for a reinstatement. Because they want to know you are legitimate.
Ideally you want to take a photo from every direction from which customers might approach your business and upload photos that show your business at different times of day as specified in the business specific photos recommendation table.
Google Business Profile Photo Tip #2
Use local images that are unique to your business. Don’t use stock images. For those of you who don’t know, stock images are images that can be downloaded from image banks and utilized on any digital assets such as your Facebook business page, your website, your newsletters etc…
You can either pay for them or download them for free from some specialized websites like pexels.com, or pixabay.com.
Although they can be very practical you mustn’t use them, I repeat, you Mustn’t use them on your Google Business Profile listing.
At best Google will remove them, at worse it will create confusion.
If I search for electrician in pexels.com for example, here is the first picture that comes up.
Now look at this electrician located in London Brixton main Google Business Profile cover photo and this other electrician located in Wimbledon.
See anything strange? They’re both using the same image from the same website.
Remember, Google can identify the content of images. So in this example this is not likely to be very good news for either business. It’s going to create some confusion for Google and not be very useful for customers.
This leads me to:
Google Business Profile Photo Tip #3
The fact Google can understand what is in the picture can be a real advantage if you want to increase your listing visibility in search.
Let’s take the example of this local tyre and exhausts business located in Twickenham. I’m just going to pull the image of a tyre posted on their listing and run it through the Google Vision AI technology tool and here is what the outcome is.
This is clearly a tyre with all related attributes also strongly related to a tyre but in addition to that Google is also able to identify the logo stuck on the tyre which in this instance is Pirelli as well as text written on the sticker. This is a Pirelli Cinturato tyre.
If I now search for Pirelli Cinturato tyre near me, look at what happens. That business gets listed in the map pack. Pretty cool right?
Can you imagine if this business did this at scale for every brand and every tyre they are selling.
What about your business? Is there any way you could take advantage of this?
If you do, make sure you add clear images of your products or some of the jobs you do to make it easier for Google to identify what the product is or which service you provide.
And don’t go overlaying text over the pictures before posting them to trick the algorithm, Google is a little more clever than that and these pictures will be pushed to the bottom of the list.
Google Business Profile Photo Tip #4
You may know that anyone can add photos to your listing, including your customers. This is another opportunity to create more relevant content very cheaply and increase the possibility of being discovered further.
But the chances of customers taking a picture and posting it to your listing are slim unless they are unhappy with you, in which case that’s not what you want to see. But where there is a will, there is a way.
Whenever possible, once you’ve finished dealing with a client, use your phone to take a picture of a job you’ve completed or a sale you’ve made.
Then ask your client to post a Google review which is something you are hopefully already doing as part of your strategy and attached the relevant picture which they can include in the review itself.
You can do this via email or phone, but don’t forget to use your review short link that will point them directly to your Google Business Profile to make it easier for them.
This works particularly well if you’re a car dealer for example and take a picture of your client with their new car but can also work for less glamorous businesses like for this timber merchant.
So not only will you get a review, but you will also get an image added to your gallery.
Time to get your camera out and to start adding images to your listing regularly.
Bear in mind this is not a one time job.
The Google Algorithm needs feeding with activity. Thankfully, reviews & photos are quick and easy ways to boost online traffic and business revenue.