Google is changing how Google Maps search results are shown by displaying photo-first results for specific searches.
“Now, when you search in Maps for specific things like the best place to find “animal latte art” or “pumpkin patch with my dog,” you’ll get photo-first results of what you’re looking for. These results are based on the analysis of billions of photos shared by the Google Maps community — all done with AI and advanced image recognition models.”
Answers to questions
The changes are designed to give users answers to questions and help people find new things to do, rather than provide details about businesses they already know about. Additionally, the visual list of places is designed to help people discover new venues to visit that match a search query.
“Just scroll through the results, tap on a photo to learn more, and navigate right there. This new way to search in Maps starts rolling out in France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. this week, and we’ll expand to more countries over time.”
Google also says the changes are designed to help provide better-organised search results that “spark imagination”. For example, you could be in a new city and search “things to do”. Results for that query will be formatted by theme, such as ‘art exhibition’, which can be explored in more depth.
The move could be a response to Google’s concerns that more young people using TikTok and Instagram as a search engine – which has commonly been Google Maps’ bread and butter. Adding a visual element to results brings Maps’ search results more in line with what a user would expect to see on TikTok or Reels, too, and could help to reverse the current trend.
Where Google My Business comes in to play
As we’ve mentioned, image results are based on AI analysis of photos shared by the Google Maps community which are associated with a Google Business Profile. That means that any photo linked to a profile can show up in results – so business owners should be more conscious of which photos are displayed and try to encourage customers to upload positive photos. Of course, uploading your own photos to a Google Business Profile can also help get your preferred images to the front of the queue.
Businesses can add photos and videos in JPG or PNG format that follow Google’s content policies, are between 10kb and 5mb, are a minimum of 250px tall and 250px wide, represent reality by being in focus and well lit and without the use of excessive filters.
Videos should be up to 30 seconds long, be no larger than 75mb and be in 720p resolution or higher. There are several types of photos that businesses can add: logos to help customers recognise a business, cover photo that best represents the business and business photos to highlight different features.
Google’s best practises for imegary
Luckily, Google has compiled a list of tips for business-speicific photos – here they are.
Exterior photos help customers recognise the business as they approach it from different angles, so add at least three different ones. It’s best to capture a photo from each direction that customers may approach the business, and take photos at different times of the day.
Interior photos help customers get an idea of what your decor and ambience is like. Again, add at least three to show customers what your business is like inside. It’s best to capture photos that show what it’s like to stand inside as a customer, and try to capture the atmosphere of your place!
Product photos give customers a better understanding of what you have on offer, so add at least three photos of products you sell. It’s best to showcase your most popular items, and try to take pictures of them in an evenly lit environment.
Photos at work help customers understand what you do. You should add at least three that show the services you offer, and capture photos of your staff providing those services.
Food & drink photos should be used to add detail to your menu and help customers plan what to eat, so add at least three of the food and drink you serve. Showcase the items most popular with the business, and make sure the photos are evenly lit.
Common areas with good photos can help attract customers planning business or leisure travel, so include at least one photo of each common area (such as a gym, spa or breakfast room). Try to capture the atmosphere in each room.
Rooms need to be photographed well, as customers rely heavily on these images before deciding which hotel to book. You’ll need at least three of each, and try to showcase all the different types of rooms on offer in a truthful way.
Team photos help show a more personal touch to the business, so add at least three of your management team and staff. Having less formal images can humanise the business, and it’s also useful to highlight the fun personalities among your staff!