Google My Business (GMB) should be a cornerstone of any local business’ marketing strategy. By building out your GMB profile, you can more easily engage with potential customers in Google search results by providing them with relevant information about your business, such as your address, operating hours, and more. In a previous installment of Solving for X, we discussed how setting goals in GMB can direct your strategy toward increasing SERP visibility and attracting new customers.
GMB isn’t just a “set it and forget it” endeavor, though. Like your actual storefront, you need to put in consistent effort to ensure your presence on the Google SERP is informative and inviting to users. According to a recent study by BrightLocal, and additional analysis on Search Engine Land, increasing the number of photos on your GMB listing may be a crucial step in enhancing your results.
BrightLocal’s research suggests a correlation between search performance and the number of photos on a Google My Business profile. If you’re not too familiar with GMB, you may be wondering how photos manifest on your listing. Check out the example below for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
The GMB listing appears in a box on the right side of the SERP, with photos featured at the top. Clicking the “See photos” link within the left image allows you to view photos submitted by the Met itself and its visitors. Potential visitors can get an in-depth look at the museum and visualize what a trip there may be like.
Going by the data in the BrightLocal study, it may be worth your while to accumulate as many photos as possible in your Google My Business profile. The study showed significant performance boosts in several key areas for GMB listings that included photos. In each area, the improvement was most dramatic for businesses that boasted over 100 images on their profile.
FYI: Direct searches occur when a user directly searches for your business, while a discovery search refers to an occasion when someone found your business after searching more generally for your industry, category, product type, etc.
According to the same study, GMB listings with only one image generated an average of 294 discovery searches and 46 direct searches per month. On the other hand, profiles with over 100 images brought in an average of 6,931 discovery searches and 1,787 direct searches each month.
Profiles with one image produced a monthly average of 359 views in search results and 93 views in Google Maps results. Those with over 100 photos collected a staggering 11,283 views in Maps and 10,000 views in search per month.
Larger quantities of images also saw better results in metrics that lead to conversions, which is most likely to pique the interest of retailers. These include clicks through to the business’ website, calls to the business, and requests for directions.
GMB listings with a single image mustered an average of 12 website visits, three direction requests, and four calls per month. With more than 100 photos, those monthly averages climbed to 385 website visits, 338 direction requests, and 87 calls.
H/T to Search Engine Land for the above statistics.
The most obvious takeaway from this study may be to add as many photos as possible to your Google My Business page. While these results do seem to suggest that a plethora of images certainly won’t hurt your performance, the core strategy here is a bit more nuanced than that.
You need to make sure the customer journey is visually well-represented on your GMB listing. Customers enjoy being able to visualize and anticipate their shopping experience, from browsing the shelves, to trying a product, to checking out with their purchase. Having a wide variety of photos available that depict your brand’s unique experience allows you to foster a sense of familiarity with your audience before they even arrive at your door.
Aside from uploading images yourself, you should also encourage customers to share their own photos. This provides an aura of authenticity, as potential shoppers will see these images as a representation of the “true experience” of shopping at your business. User-generated content may be easier to gather for some types of businesses (e.g. restaurants, hotels, etc.) than others, but even a handful of photos will put you in a better position.
As noted in Search Engine Land, BrightLocal’s results only demonstrate a correlation between the number of Google My Business photos and search performance. They don’t claim a direct causation between these factors. It may be that businesses with 100+ photos are more active and popular anyway, which could contribute to the results.
So while you’re not guaranteed to see an immediate impact, supporting your GMB listing with useful, high-quality photos is still a key component in building your brand’s online image and authority.