We’ve all heard the saying that first impressions matter, and this is just as true online as it is in real life. In business terms, this means that there is a constant need to carefully manage your online reputation, to ensure each landing page is word-perfect and that your social channels are updated, engaging and relevant.
What of your Google My Business page though? If you’re guilty of thinking of Google My Business in terms of reviews and local search position, you may have overlooked the need to keep a tight rein on your Google My Business photos.
Internet users are inherently visual creatures, with visuals processed 60,000 times faster than plain text. That means images are tremendously influential and key to your business looking good online.
A 2011 BrightLocal study revealed that 60% of consumers said local search results with good images captured their attention and pushed them towards a decision. More recently, Wesley Young, from the Local Search Association, confirmed images had by no means waned in importance, stating,
Images have become ever more important in online presence and marketing. It seems rare that an article, email, ad or social media post isn’t led by a hero image or graphic. There’s no question that images boost visibility, engagement and click-through rates. A study on Google+ concluded that posts with images were shared three times more than those without images.
Google My Business has a wealth of visual features, which in theory should make it easy to present your business in the best possible light. However, actually taking great images and getting them uploaded to the right place can be a more challenging task.
Not quite ready for your close up? Read on for our ultimate guide to looking good online…
Google My Business Visual Features
Google My Business has several visual features available when you verify your listing. The platform will allow you to upload images of your business to your profile, attach images to posts, and upload video. Two recent additions include the option to add 360º photos and virtual video tours.
In addition to your own ability to upload all of these visual assets from your Google My Business dashboard, it’s important to be aware that your customers can also upload their own photos and videos of your business. There is little you can do to control your public image via user-generated content shared in this manner, but if the images are offensive or inappropriate, you do have the option to flag them up and request removal.
Google advises businesses to upload several different types of image;
- At least three strong exterior photos, taken at different times of the day and showing the approach to the business from common angles
- A minimum of three interior photos
- Product photos for the most popular products and services you sell
- One image of any common areas your business may have, such as the reception
- A minimum of three management and team photos
- For bars, restaurants and cafes, images of the most popular food and drinks
- For hotels, images of guest rooms should be uploaded
It’s worth noting that the search engine’s research indicates that:
“…Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.”
The Basics: Uploading Photos
First up, you need to address your cover photo, as this image will accompany your Google My Business listing.
Next up, upload your profile photo (this should be different to the cover image)
With the two most prominent images uploaded, next work through the list above and upload images for each of the categories relevant to you. If you’re a local realtor, you probably won’t need to upload images of your common areas and you certainly won’t need food and drink shots, but interior and exterior business images should be uploaded where possible, along with team photos.
If your local business has more than one location, there is a bulk image upload function which can make the process quicker. You need to first verify each location, enter image locations in a spreadsheet and then bulk upload. Step-by-step instructions on how to do this can be found here.
Once all your images are uploaded, you can assess which photos are performing the best for your business over time to help you select the most appropriate photos each time. Google My Business provides useful insight here: navigate to ‘Photo Views’ and then the ‘Photo Quantity’ graph tabs from the dashboard. Here, you can see your own photo data compared to the photo data of other businesses in the same sector.
This will show you things like:
- Your total number of photos
- Number of photo views
- Number of customer photos
- Total number of customer photo views
From these insights you can tell just how well your photos are performing against competitors, and how popular your images are—whether self-produced or provided by customers. This will, in turn, let you push image types that perform and drop those that don’t yield results.
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