by Joy Hawkins
Google My Business has a designated section for the cover photo that sounds very simple but actually has quite a few nuances that many business owners and marketers are unaware of.
In an ideal world, you just add your cover photo, Google displays exactly what you put, and you move on with your life. Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens.
Fact 1: The cover photo can show up in the 3-pack
There are many queries on Google that show images in the local pack results. Sometimes, these 3-packs display images that are related to what you search. In this example, I searched for tires and Google is displaying photos of tires beside each listing:
However, often that is not the case and Google actually just defaults to showing the cover photo for the business, like in these examples:
Fact 2: Google can update your cover photo automatically with recent photos
Sometimes when you add photos inside Google My Business, Google can update the cover photo with one of your recent images, even though you didn’t add it to the “cover photo section”. This is exactly what happened in this situation. The photo on the left was the designated cover photo inside Google My Business, yet adding a photo of a mosquito (service they provide) to the listing (not in the cover photo section) made Google automatically update it in the search results.
Make sure you check your knowledge panel after adding new photos to your listings to make sure Google hasn’t done this to you.
Fact 3: Google will not display some types of images as cover photos
If Google doesn’t choose to display the cover photo you’ve selected, it’s normally for one of three reasons:
- It’s a logo
- It’s very pixelated
- Google decided they hate your photo for some obscure reason
We had #3 happen recently to an RV resort in St Petersburg. Despite our efforts to make this image the cover photo, Google kept selecting any other photo. Every time I deleted the photo they picked to show, a new one would take its place. Literally any photo other than the one I selected which is shown below.
After exhausting all efforts, we finally had to go with a different image – and that worked. The image was very different than the one we were trying to force Google to show.
To increase the chances of having Google pick the cover photo you selected, make sure you do the following:
- Pick an image that looks good in both landscape and a square layout
- Pick an image that has most of the image in the top half (not the bottom half)
- The image should be a close-up and not have a ton of background detail
- An exterior image is generally preferable to the algorithm
- Use the dimensions 1332 x 750 for the cover photo
- Use this trick from Ben Fisher to get Google to display the correct photo
Keep in mind that all these steps won’t work 100% of the time, just like in the example listed above, in which case your only option is to choose a different photo.
This study along with several others about images was presented at the LocalU event in August 2021. Videos of the presentation are available for purchase here.