This is an update of an older post. Google’s understanding of images has evolved greatly and it is definitely an important aspect of how they understand the content on your site and your Google Business Profile heading into 2024.
I shared the amazing Local Search Deep Dive a few years back with Mike Blumenthal and Carrie Hill discussing how amazing Google has become at understanding images and relating them to search entities. You can listen and read about that here. I wanted to share the tool they mention and give a little bit of perspective on this new battleground in the local search and SEO world.
Google Understands More About Images Than You Think
Images are becoming more and more important for your search presence, in both your Google Business Profile and in ranking factors on your own site’s content pages. The tool that they mention has evolved and is still located here . It is a great view of how Google recognizes and credits the images on your pages and in your GBP. Back when I first wrote this, it was free. Now you can get some free trial credit. You can upload pictures and see how Google “sees” them with the algorithm. In my blog feature image, you can see what search entities Google related my logo to. As an exercise, it is worth throwing your logo in there and seeing what it says.
The implications of this are vast. The way you approach images in your content should change. Though it is, of course, important to always have relevant images in your content, it may be worth throwing an image in this tool to help decide whether to use it or not to add more relevance to a post. It isn’t just the alt text or image label anymore. Google not only “sees” the image, but makes assumptions about the content based on that.
Unique Images Important
Another piece of information Google provides, other than the text it pulls out of the image, the entities it associates it with, and even people it finds in the pictures, is where else that image is found online. If you throw a stock photo in there and see the many, many places where that image shows up, it begs the question of whether it is better to use unique photos or stock photos as many businesses do. I would lean toward creating unique images of the business owner and business location being much more valuable.
As action items, I would recommend getting more images on your GBP, as we already have discussed, and getting unique pictures of the services you provide or products you offer and even of you interacting with them, for your website and GBP going forward. There should be value in images and we are only beginning to learn how much and how important it will be. If it isn’t too costly, it is worth trying to get ahead of the curve.