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More Google Algorithm Updates Looming: Google Testing Images in Mobile Results

10 Jun 2015 John Morabito

in Google, SEO, Mobile

Images In Google Mobile Search Results

Recently while spot checking a few keywords on mobile for a client of ours, we noticed something in search we had never seen before. That something very well may be part of Google's most recent algorithm update, but it doesn't have to do with the usual the-sky-is falling scenario (i.e., your rankings are dropping). It has to do with the way users interact with mobile, the shifting tides of the social media landscape, and pretty pictures.

What we are starting to see in quite a few mobile searches is an image being displayed right alongside the organic search result. These are straight-forward static pages, not Google News results. While this may remind you of the wave of video schema thumbnails that crashed on our digital shores some time ago, this is totally different in that Google is picking whatever image on the page it wants. Before we talk about what this may mean for your clients and your own websites, let's take a look at a of couple examples.As you can see in this example to the left, Google is displaying an image pulled from the web page and actually showing it right next to the page title and meta. On the one hand, this change will likely help to increase CTR on mobile sites that have great images. Conversely, this may detract from CTR on sites that have POOR images being used in their SERP, or imagery that doesn't sufficiently align with the page title. What's interesting is that there are no extra steps a developer or webmaster has to take for Google to pick up on your images. From what we can tell, the crawler is simply looking for the standard <img> tag. Yet another good reason to not totally abandon the use of images in the "old-school" image tag and use as backgrounds.

So What Does This Actually Mean for My Site?

The good news is there's nothing that you have to do other than to do what marketing professionals have always recommended--use engaging and on-brand imagery on every page of your website.

The bad news is there's nothing that one can do to control this, other than to simply only have one image per page. Aside from that we have also noticed a preference for portrait-oriented photos as they display better in the current SERP layout. This means that if you have the choice, especially on "about us" or "about our team" pages, select photos that are vertical or portrait-oriented.

Let's take a look at some more examples of how this test is being rolled out.

Will it Last?

Like anything spotted in the wilds of Google, this could be a mere test the search engine is deploying and will never be something that gets rolled out globally. While we're the first to admit this is clearly an "off and on" test, meaning you won't always  see this right now, we also think its only a matter of time before Google bows to the power of images. Especially in the face of the massive popularity of Instagram, it's clear people love to scroll through images, so why not on Google?Looking for someone else to keep their ear to the ground for you when it comes to SEO so you can think about the big picture? Contact us today or learn more about our E-commerce and Retail SEO services today.

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