Does Geotagging Photos Influence Ranking?
Posted by Joy Hawkins
When people talk about what strategies they utilize in Local SEO to get their client’s ranking, I often hear references to geotagging images.
Adding geotags to images in Google My Business (GMB) listings had no measurable impact on rankings in the local pack. Similarly, adding geotags to the photos on the business website had no measurable impact on organic or local pack rankings.
What is geotagging?
Geotagging photos is the process of adding latitude/longditude tags to an image so that where the photo was taken can be identified.The Exif format has standard tags for location information. As of 2014, many cameras and mobile phones have a built-in GPS receiver that stores the location information in the Exif header when a picture is taken.
Not all platforms support geotags
During this test, we discovered that certain website platforms don’t support geotags and actually remove them when you upload the images. We also discovered some programs do this as well – both Google My Business (GMB) and Slack removed the geotags off the photos after we uploaded them.
To test this, we picked 5 different GMB listings that were not actively being worked on. They weren’t listings that had any other SEO efforts at the time of the test. For each listing, we added 3 different images and used an online tool to manually add geotags, a document name, and image description to each photo.
We also tested adding the geotagged photos to the website for 3 of the businesses in the test. We specifically made sure we added them to the page on the website that the GMB listing was linking to.
Other GMB fields that impact ranking such as the categories, business name, or website field, generally result in an increase in ranking within 48 hours. We tracked this over the course of several weeks and saw no measurable increases in ranking either organically or in the local pack results.
We also saw no measurable increases in traffic to the page on the website that we added the images to or the page the GMB listing was pointing to (we could separate the 2 because of UTM codes).
If you spend time geotagging photos as a part of your local SEO strategy, I would advise spending that time elsewhere. When I asked Joel Headley what he thought of geotagging images before adding them to Google My Business, he said “it wouldn’t matter since the ‘tagging’ is happening upon upload. It doesn’t matter if meta data exist”.
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.