by Joy Hawkins
For those of us who work in marketing, it’s really easy to get caught up in what we see on our computers all day and forget what things look like in Google’s search results on mobile. Google shows images beside the search results on mobile devices that often don’t show up anywhere on computers and they are an easy way for a business to stand out and draw more attention to their website.
Not all search results show images on mobile
It’s important to note that not every keyword shows images in the search results on mobile devices. We tracked tons of keywords using BrightLocal and looked at screenshots of how search engine results pages (SERPs) on mobile varied based on what was typed in. For example, “car accident attorney sebring” doesn’t show images but yet “car accident attorney sebring fl” does, despite the fact that these two search phrases are extremely similar.
How to get images in the mobile search results on Google
- Make sure the image you use on the page is square. If it’s a different ratio, Google will sometimes just crop it and it could make the photo look dumb. I often see attorneys showing up with their heads chopped off because of this.
The actual dimensions you use on the photo don’t seem to matter much, as long as it’s a square.
- Make sure the image is at the top of the page. The placement of the photo matters and Google is often looking to show the first image they scan on the page.
We tested this on a client who wasn’t showing images in the search results. I noticed that the business had a carousel of photos that were all different sizes so I moved it further down the page and put a smaller, square photo of the business owners right above it. This caused them to get images in the mobile search results within a few days.
- Blake Denman from RicketyRoo pointed out that you sometimes don’t even have to include the image on the page. If you have a WordPress website and use a plugin like Yoast or RankMath, you can just set a featured image on a page or post that you want Google to use. The plugins add the necessary schema markup for PrimaryImageOfPage which can trigger Google to display the image you’ve chosen. For example, this plumber doesn’t even have the image shown listed publicly on his drain cleaning page.
My colleague, Carrie Hill, warns that before utilizing this tactic, make sure the WordPress theme doesn’t use the featured image in the template. Some themes have it automatically built-in and changing the featured image could cause something like the hero image on the page to update unintentionally.
What to include in your photo
To make the most of this feature, make sure you use the following image-types for your photo.
- Don’t use too much text. For example, this image is not using tons of small text that is not readable on mobile devices.
- Don’t use stock photos. We found in our study on Google Posts that images that are stock photos result in a lot less clicks.
- Use awards or coupons. This can be a great way to stand out while including a unique selling proposition.
We have been doing a lot of testing around images in the last year at Sterling Sky. You can read about the tests we did on geotagging photos, how images impact ranking, how images can drive more leads, if adding images in GMB impacts ranking, and how to utilize cover photo you select in Google My Business.
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.
Do you have a question or story about how you have seen images impact small businesses on Google? Tell us about it over at the Local Search Forum.