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📸 Get Noticed Using An Image Next To Google Search Result In Local Mobile Search!

For those of us who work in marketing, it’s really easy to get caught up in what we see on our computers all day and forget what things look like in Google’s search results on mobile.  Google shows images beside the search results on mobile devices that often don’t show up anywhere on computers, and they are an easy way for a business to stand out and draw more attention to their website. We’ve previously discussed how images impact ranking, however, we haven’t talked about how to get an image next to Google search results.

Not all mobile SERPs show an image next to Google search result

It’s important to note that not every keyword shows images in the search results on mobile devices.  We tracked tons of keywords using BrightLocal and looked at screenshots of how search engine results pages (SERPs) on mobile varied based on what was typed in.  For example, “car accident attorney Sebring” doesn’t show images but yet “car accident attorney Sebring, fl” does, despite the fact that these two search phrases are extremely similar.

mobile images serps

Steps to get an image next to Google search result:

  1. Make sure the image you use on the page is square.  If it’s a different ratio, Google will sometimes just crop it, and it could make the photo look dumb.  I often see attorneys showing up with their heads chopped off because of this.
    Head chopped off in search results
    The actual dimensions you use on the photo don’t seem to matter much, as long as it’s a square.
  2. Make sure the image is at the top of the page.  The placement of the photo matters, and Google is often looking to show the first image they scan on the page.
    photo placement on the pageWe tested this on a client who wasn’t showing images in the mobile search results.  I noticed that the business had a carousel of photos that were all different sizes, so I moved it further down the page and put a smaller, square photo of the business owners right above it.  This caused them to get images in the mobile search results within a few days.
    Changing layout for images
  3. Set a featured image on a page or post that you want Google to use. Blake Denman from RicketyRoo pointed out that you sometimes don’t even have to include the image on the page. If you have a WordPress website and use a plugin like Yoast or RankMath, you can just set a featured image on a page or post that you want Google to use.  The plugins add the necessary schema markup for PrimaryImageOfPage which can trigger Google to display the image you’ve chosen.  For example, this plumber doesn’t even have the image listed publicly on his drain cleaning page.

    My colleague, Carrie Hill, warns that before utilizing this tactic, make sure the WordPress theme doesn’t use the featured image in the template.  Some themes have it automatically built-in, and changing the featured image could cause something like the hero image on the page to update unintentionally.

Maximize your impact by using these essential photo elements for Google mobile SERP success

To make the most of this feature, make sure you use the following image types for your photo.

  1. Don’t use too much text.  For example, this image is using tons of small text that is not readable on mobile devices.
    text too small
  2. Don’t use stock photos.  We found in our study on Google Posts that images that are stock photos result in a lot fewer clicks.
  3. Use awards or coupons.  This can be a great way to stand out while including a unique selling proposition.
    images highlighting awards

We have been doing a lot of testing around images in the last year at Sterling Sky.  You can read about the tests we did on geotagging photoshow images impact rankinghow images can drive more leads if adding images in GBP impacts ranking, and how to utilize the cover photo you select in Google Business Profile.

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.

Do you have a question or story about how you have seen images impact small businesses on Google? Tell us about it over at the Local Search Forum.

Contact Top Rated SEOs At Sterling Sky Inc.

If you’re a local business that needs help with their Google Business Profile listing or their business’s online presence on Google and other search engines, at Sterling Sky we can help. We offer SEO audits, consulting, or monthly local SEO services. Contact our office today for more information.

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And See These Other Articles By SEO Joyanne Hawkins:

Does the Length of a Google Review Matter?
Is Google Looking for Diversity in Reviews? [Case Study]
How Much Does Review Recency Impact Google Local Pack Rankings [Case Study]

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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 12 Comments

    1. This is an organic feature so stuff from the Google My Business listing (like reviews) wouldn’t impact it. I have definitely seen photos in reviews make it so the review sticks longer on a GMB listing at the top.

  1. The images that display full width between the title and description in the SERPs, is that going to be the norm do you think? I don’t see it on all searches but I believe it’s something they talked about during SearchOn.

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