Recently Google gave business’ some much needed control over their images in the Google My Business dashboard. The Jury is still out on how it will behave within Google but I believe that it bodes well, but we will have to wait and see.
Frederick R. Barnard is often credited with the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words", however it should really read 'the right picture is worth a thousand words'. With 20 years in the marketing and advertising industry, the image and narrative have become part of my life. Since 2012 I have been a Google partner working in the Google Maps Business View programme and have been telling stories about businesses with images since then. Naturally when Google added the ability to 'Manage Photos' in the Google My Business dashboard I wanted to know more and this article explains how your business can use this new feature to positive effect.
In the beginning...
When you first get into your Google My Business dashboard you are met by a dark blank panel with a progress bar indicating how complete your profile is Click on the red edit button and “fill-yer-boots” (as they say in Ireland).
There are lots of great articles on how best to manage your Google My Business dashboard. Here are few useful links:
If there is any doubt as to the importance of completing your Google My Business dashboard then I would direct you to this report by OXERA in Dec 2014: Benefits of Complete Business Listings
In this report (which is dry reading but the statisticians among us will love it!) Oxera makes the simple but remarkable conclusion that there is profit in a complete listing:
And an increased clickthrough rate to a businesses website:
“Our analysis shows that additional information is associated with at least a 30% increase in homepage clickthroughs” - OXERA 2014
And a better experience for the consumer:
So do not hesitate, jump in now and get started.
Sometimes, if you are lucky, Google will offer your business a voucher to use in Google Adwords, cash it in because it can disappear:
If you would like to have a Google Virtual Tour completed for your business then click
and you will be able to select a local Trusted Photographer or Agency.
Here is a link to an article I wrote on Google Business View if you would like to learn more. (There is an update coming soon).
Once you have optimised the basic information for your business the next step should be to organise the images you have selected to represent your business. Obviously you will need to have these images before you start and you can ask your Google Trusted Photographer or Agency to take some additional images while they are on location for you to use. You should expect to pay a little more for additional images but this may work out more cost effective than hiring a commercial photographer to come to your business independently.
Once you have your images click
to start organising them into your Google+ Local Business profile. Alternatively you can add photos via the Google My Business App and add photos via > Photos and select the type of photo you are adding. Images added via the App will be Geotagged if you have enabled that feature on your device.
It is important to note that when you load images as a business you cannot access the normal Albums as you can in a personal profile. When you click the photos button you are directed to the manage photos page:
Tip… If you wish to get to your Albums follow these steps:
- Go to you G+ Business Profile page
- Click on the photos tab
- Click on View all to review all albums
Types of photos
There are several types of photos you should add to your business page:
Add a profile photo so that your customers can recognise your business on Google. Your profile photo will be featured next to your business name on your Google+ page. Your profile should be a different photo from your business logo, which should be added in the "Logo" section.
Add a cover photo to showcase your page’s personality. Your cover photo is the large photo featured at the top of your Google+ page. Note that this photo will be cropped to fit a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Add your logo to help customers identify your business. Square-sized logos display best on Google. You can choose to make your logo serve as your profile photo. Your logo won't appear on your Google+ page, but you can choose it to represent your business on Maps and Search by following the steps below.
First photo on Google
Recommend the photo that you want your customers to see alongside your business name on Google Maps and Search. To change this photo, choose the three dash menu icon and choose Profile, Logo or Cover.
Add these photos to spotlight features of your business that your customers use when making purchasing decisions. These break down into several categories (the number beside each of these is the suggested minimum number):
- Exterior Photos (3)
- Interior Photos (3)
- Product Photos (3)
- Photos at Work (3)
- Food and Drink Photos (3)
- Common Areas (1)
- Rooms (3)
- Team Photos (3)
Google provide some guidance regarding these images.
The following is an example of a Google My Business > Photo Management as different photos are added. We have added photos for a client to every section to be able to monitor results across the following platforms: Google Search, Google Knowledge Graph, Google Maps, Google Views & Google+ (on Desktop and mobile devices)
KME Steelworks Ltd based in Northern Ireland Knowledge Graph (KG) before:
(Our example already had one image added before we began & KME does not have a Google Virtual Tour completed yet)
First lets change the profile image by hovering over the profile picture and click on the ‘Change profile’
You will have the option to upload, select from an album or choose images that have been tagged by others of your business.
In this option we are going to choose from a preloaded album.
We follow the same steps for adding a logo and a cover image:
(You can only load a logo from your computer)
One of the main benefits of this feature is that you can elect which image will be displayed in the KG for your organisation by clicking in theabove the right hand picture.
Follow the same steps for each of the relevant categories of images. Remember to geolocate each images and to add information about each image as you add them. Include your company name and a short narrative about the image.
By the time you have finished your Manage Photos dashboard should look like this:
This is how KME Steelworks’ Knowledge Graph (KG) appears after the changes are implemented:
When the images have been published they are supposed to populate Google Search, Maps and Google+. However I have not seen any of the images populate any maps searches in the area of the business (although they may not have been there for long enough to have an effect). Obviously if you load the images to Google+ it will have an effect on the images visible on Google+ however it is a bit disappointing that there is no categorisation of the images in the photos section of the business’ Google+ Local Page.
It clearly has an effect on the image displayed in the KG (as seen above) and this alone is worth the minimal effort it takes to manage your images.
In an incognito Google Image search a little less than 10% of Google+ surfaced in the first 50 images for the business.
I have reviewed the results on mobile devices and images are displayed as a long uncategorised list, which is also a little disappointing.
While having control over the image that appears in your KG is a great step forward it seems to me that there is lots of control with only one reward. If I were asked by a business would it be a good investment to acquire professional images of the business to populate this feature, I would have to say “no - at this time”. If you have the images already then I would load them as the benefits may reveal themselves sooner rather later.
This all leads me to the conclusion that there must be more to come where images on Google My Business is concerned and I for one am looking forward to it improving further. I have my suspicions that Google will reveal something soon on this score, as we in the Google Business View field have been gathering information about hotel rooms for some time now and this information is also not appearing anywhere yet either (to my knowledge).
So maybe I should revise my revision of Frederick R. Barnard’s phrase to “the right picture is worth a thousand words - as long as it is seen by someone interested in the story!”
All photos by John M Lynch.
Footnote: I would be interested in running the same little test for a restaurant or cafe as the Food category my surface in other searches. If anyone knows of a restaurant that has completed the Manage Photos, I would be interested in information about your experience.