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Why Is My Google Business Profile Cover Photo Not Showing?

Why is my Google Business Profile cover photo not showing in the search results? It could be related to what you search for, it could be related to what Google chooses to display, or it could be that Google automatically changed the cover photo.

There is a designated section for the cover photo on Google Business Profile that seems 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 on Google Business Profile, Google displays exactly what you put, and you move on with your life.  Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens.

Here’s how you can understand what is actually happening with your Google cover photo, and how to change your cover photo on Google Business Profile to increase the chances of having Google pick the cover photo you selected.

Fact 1: The GBP 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 cover photos of tires beside each listing:

However, often that is not the case and Google cover photos actually default to just showing the cover photo for the business, like in the examples below. In short, if you are asking yourself why my business picture is not showing for your GBP cover photo, the answer may be in the query.

Fact 2: Google can update your GBP cover photo automatically with recent photos 

Sometimes when you add photos, Google can change the cover photo on Google Business Profile 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 Business Profile, 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 Google cover 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 GBP cover photos

If Google doesn’t choose to display the cover photo you’ve selected, it’s normally for one of three reasons:

  1. It’s a logo
  2. It’s very pixelated
  3. 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 Google Business Profile cover photo you selected, make sure you do the following:

  1. Pick an image that looks good in both landscape and a square layout
  2. Pick an image that has most of the image in the top half (not the bottom half)
  3. The image should be a close-up and not have a ton of background detail
  4. An exterior image is generally preferable to the algorithm
  5. Use the dimensions 1332 x 750 for the cover photo
  6. 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.


Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. If you log into GMB and select “website” on the left-hand menu and you replace the header image on their self-generated website it will become your cover photo instantly. Do not publish the site, just swap the photo and exit. No guarantee that it will stay there as the new cover photo forever but I have done this and so far so good.

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