8 tips to make sure your Google profile images boost your local search results
Your local business profile image has a significant impact on the impression prospective customers have of your business. Columnist Wesley Young of the Local Search Association covers ways to make sure that impression is a positive one.
Images have become ever more important in online presence and marketing. It seems rare that an article, email, ad or social media post isn’t led by a hero image or graphic.
There’s no question that images boost visibility, engagement and click-through rates. A study on Google+ concluded that posts with images were shared three times more than those without images. Likewise, Socialbakers reported that of the top 10 percent most engaging Facebook posts (likes, shares, comments), 93 percent of them were photos. And a study by BrightLocal found that 60 percent of consumers agreed that local results with images grab their attention and influence decision-making.
The opposite is also true: A lack of images hurts. Indeed, Expedia has used the threat of pulling images to gain leverage in business deals with hotel chains. It’s a practice called “dimming” that reduces a property’s visibility and marketability in hotel listings served to users of the online site.
Expedia is trying to stop hotel chains from offering lower rates on their own branded websites than they give to the online booking services. Pulling images from listings makes those hotels less attractive to a consumer and more likely that he or she will select a different hotel. Huffington Post quotes Christine Compo-Martin, a retired teacher, as saying, “Honestly, if there aren’t pictures, I don’t even begin to consider it.” If enough consumers pass over the dimmed listings, Expedia hopes the hotels will be pressured to accommodate their pricing demands.
With such importance placed on images, it is somewhat surprising that search has lagged in adoption of images as part of the search result. The major US search engines, Google and Bing, generally return text-based results. Many directory listings like the BBB are traditionally NAP+ information-based (with NAP standing for name, address, phone number) or require a premium before images may be included, like the print Yellow Pages.
That appears to be changing as Google and Bing are challenged by newer or vertical specific search platforms. Yelp has profile pictures for virtually all of its listings. In response, Google started using logos or images in its local search “snack pack” results last year.