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Unlock the Secret to Eye-Catching Google Business Listings with These Cover Photo Control Tips

Google Business Profiles (GBPs) are an incredibly valuable tool for local businesses.   Some of the parts of a GBP are easy (choose your primary category, add in your Google Business Profile services, link to your GBP landing page, add photos and videos, add attributes, and add your opening date), but some of them require a bit more effort.

In November, at LocalU Advanced, I talked about many Google Business Profile (GBP) tactics that are underutilized.  The first is controlling the GBP cover photo.  The cover photo is arguably the most important photo a business has on the internet.  Controlling which cover photo shows continues to be an ongoing challenge.

Google Does Not Always Show the Cover Photo You Want

Prior to COVID, we were displaying the image below as the cover photo for one of our clients, a lawn care company.  Notice the badges and awards at the bottom of the image.

Once COVID hit and businesses were closing, we decided to change the image to the one below indicating we were still open.

Once all of the COVID restrictions were lifted, we tried to add a similar cover photo to the original one.

This is where we ran into a challenge.  We discovered very quickly that Google did not like the badges and logos because they ended up switching it for the image below, which is a customer-uploaded image by the way.

This image is certainly not the image we want to show as it is dead grass, which is not the image we want for our lawn care company.  So, we attempted to change it back, but Google changed it to yet another customer-uploaded image (see below).

So, we decided to switch it back to the image “We are open.”  We learned that having multiple logos on your cover photo is not appealing to Google. An interesting side-note, Google updated its Google post photo guidelines recently, which indicated that logos are considered SPAM, especially in excess.  So, this rule may be applicable to the GBP cover photo.

Other Challenges with Google Photos

It can take 24-48 hours for your photo to go live.  So, having a system to monitor the cover photo is ideal.   Visualping is a tool that really helps with this.  All you have to do is set up a tracker for a branded search that triggers the knowledge panel and you will get notifications any time the cover photo changes.  

Steps to Utilize in Order to Ensure the Cover Photo We Want Actually Shows

  • Pick an image that looks good in both landscape and a square layout.
  • Pick an image that has most of the image in the top half (not the bottom half).
  • The image should be a close-up and not have a ton of background detail.
  • An image of an exterior is generally preferable to the algorithm.
  • Use the dimensions 1332 x 750 for the cover photo.
  • Ben Fisher said on a Local Marketing Institute webinar that if you publish a GBP website, you can use the header photo there to control what photo shows in the knowledge panel.

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Colan Nielsen

Colan started in the local SEO world back in 2010 and is also deemed a product expert by Google as a Top Contributor on the Google My Business Forum. He is a contributor to Moz’s famous Local Search Ranking Factors survey and is a former Google MapMaker Regional Lead. Read Colan's full bio here.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. The mini-website banner trick hardly ever works nowadays (I say “nowadays” when I learnd of this trick like two years ago lol). I don’t remember the last time I actually managed to force google to show a pic Google Didn’t like using t.

  2. I am constantly following the developments and innovations for the sector I am in. Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with new ideas. Thanks so much for the great advice. I’m sure it will work.

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