You heard right, if you haven't noticed it yet, Google has released a new feature showing us a new image based search surface. As a supplement to the 3 pack for local keywords searches, this “search by photos” shows local results visually based on an image matching the search query. For now this new search metaphor is buried down the page, several scrolls below the ads - then the user is presented with a carousel consisted of an image, a rating and the business name.
It’s not clear how permanent this new feature is, at the moment it’s only visible on your mobile device. It’s also unclear what categories that show images. Google seem to have divided the world into image-relevant categories (travel, food, shopping) and non-image categories (healthcare, legal, plumbing etc). One thing is for sure, whether it’s here to stay or not, your visual presence matters a lot, both in regards to enhance but also drive search results.
It seems like there are some split opinions about this new feature - the company's reputation is put in the hands of the consumers. Google collect and choose what images should be presented under the location. So, your listing will win or lose its conversion battle based on the images that Google chooses to show.
On the other hand - Google has been pushing business owners for a couple of years now to continuously add photos to their GMB profile. So, this new feature is perhaps the start of a grand plan, a new local search discovery metaphor, one where the user selects the business based on imagery instead of just data.
Can you see that coming?
So, pay attention to the future. Your products and services will get visible online and you can’t ignore it. Which means that you will not only need multiple images for every important product category you want to show, but all images need to be done so well that they stand out in the competition battle for clicks.
Good luck out there!
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