The old English adage tells us “a picture is worth a thousand words” and in our visual internet culture, we’ve become very skilled at curating images of ourselves, our lives, and our family in view of what we think they project about us – both personally and professionally.
As marketers we understand that we can use images to connect and engage with our audiences – images tell stories, images inspire us and as consumers, we are also very familiar with using images to help guide us in our choice of products and services.
TL;DR – images are important!
So, given what we know about images and their importance – why do we still as business owners or as marketers allow our cover photos to look like this? 🤦🏽♀️
Erm – what’s a ‘cover photo’ in Google My Business again?
When we say ‘cover’ photo we mean the primary image that accompanies your listing across the Google ecosystem – in your business profile on a desktop or a mobile and on Google maps.
When someone makes a search for a product or service you offer (for example ‘plumbers in Cardiff’) or your brand name (for example ‘Best Darn Plumbers in Cardiff’) this image is going to be the first image people see related to your brand – so…
CAN WE JUST MAKE SURE IT’S GOOD? PLZ?
What Google tells us about cover photos
You can read what Google tells us about cover photos here, but here’s the kicker:
“Cover photo: Set a cover photo at the top of your profile that best represents your business. In some instances, this action doesn’t guarantee the cover photo will show up as the first image for your business.”
Yes, you read that right. Google doesn’t guarantee they’ll use your specified photo – instead Google ultimately decides which photo is best. 🤷
However – best foot forward and all that – let’s do what we can to get our chosen image to show.
We must first make sure we have specified a cover image in GMB. You set your cover photo in Google My Business alongside your logo in the GMB dashboard on a desktop or via the GMB app on a mobile or a tablet.
So – if you’ve done this and your chosen cover photo isn’t showing, or if it looks less than optimal, or if you’re trying to manage unexpected changes to your cover photo, here are 5 tips that *might* help you.
Your cover photo is not always your cover photo
What do I mean by this? I wrote a post way back in 2019 (remember those days…when in-person conferences and holidays were a thing) about how Google treats ‘see photos’ in the business profile.
How do you know if this affects your profile? Head over to a desktop and make a search that surfaces your business profile. Click on the cover image (labeled ‘see photos’) and check where this takes you.
If ‘see photos’ links through to image search, rather than your images in Google Maps then changing your cover photo in GMB won’t change the image that’s shown in your business profile, in the Chester Zoo example above the image is being pulled from Wikipedia.
Use an image that works well with a central focus, and in a square ratio
Hat tip to Amy Toman for this reminder – thumbnails of cover photos populate search results on a mobile:
So make sure that the image that you choose looks good and works in this context.
Change your header photo on the Google My Business website
This is a top tip from Ben Fisher – you can read the full post and see his video here.
Ben found that changing the header image on the free Google My Business website can update the cover image on your business profile, and when I tested it I found the exact same thing:
Updated image on the Google website…
Immediately update the image in the business profile…
If you’re struggling to get the image that YOU want to be your cover image to show in your business profile then give this method a try and see what happens – tweet LocalU with any feedback.
Set a cover photo using an image previously uploaded to GMB
On desktop it’s not possible to use an image that is already uploaded to GMB – you’d need to re-upload a photo to change the cover image.
However, in the GMB app you’re able to scroll through your existing images and choose to use that image to set it as a cover photo
It’s worth noting that, like adding a new image, this method does not preserve the view count on that image – it’s counted as a ‘new’ image, starts with a zero view count, and becomes a duplicate image in your GMB photos.
Automate monitoring changes to your cover photo
If you have one listing it’s not a problem to have a little check every week or so to see what cover photo is showing across devices for your business.
But what if you have hundreds, or thousands, of listings?
It’s OK. Dan Leibson and Bryan Heckler have you covered, with their image detection tool that uses Python to scrape Google searches and report back on if there are any changes to the image in the Knowledge Graph. This script does a search for a term, looks at the file in the primary position in the knowledge panel and saves it, then checks to see if it changed.
You can read about the process here.
You might already be conversant with Python and be able to set this up yourself – if you’re not then you can check out one of these brilliant Python communities:
This is where you can learn how to set this up yourself – or connect with someone who’d you’d be able to pay to do it for you. Happy days! 🐍🐍
Your cover photo in your local knowledge panel is your first chance to make a good impression – so don’t waste that chance by allowing crappy user generated images or Google chosen images to appear in that pole position.
Good luck with getting a great photo showing for your listings, and let us know any further top tips or challenges you encounter along the way.