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Controlling the Image Thumbnails in Google Search Results

The Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) has seen numerous alterations and enhancements throughout the years. One of the recent additions is Google showing images alongside the organic results in Google Search, which is becoming more common in the US results and is likely to roll out to more countries in the future. So can you control what images are being shown here?

In a recent online help session, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller addressed the question of whether SEO practitioners can influence the images shown in search results. He said there is no way the images shown in search results can be controlled. The Google Search algorithms select the images where it believes that it is something that would benefit the users, as doing that helps them to decide which of the results to click on.

“The images are essentially just a kind of snippet and not something specific that you define on the pages or can control with schema markup.”

The images are shown randomly by the Google Search algorithms. Sometimes it picks one, sometimes six and sometimes no images, even though there are images on the landing page.

John Mueller recognised this, stating that proper documentation for image snippets displayed in search results is required.

Until there is some official documentation or schema markup, the best practice would be to optimise images on the page. Use the proper aspect ratios and resolutions, as well as formats like WebP that will help you compress the size without sacrificing quality, and use keyword-rich anchor texts. Focus more on providing the best experience for your website’s users.

If you want to know more about the Google Search Engine Results and how SEO can help your business, please get in touch.