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Google Vision AI & The Future of Local SEO for Home Services Businesses

Eddie Childs content strategist and social media marketing expert
Eddie Childs

What does the future hold for local SEO when it comes to HVAC and the home services industry? In the years to come, our best guess is that Google plans to double down on visual search. Read on to learn more and see the results of our recent testing with Google’s Vision AI.

Google Vision AI & Local Search

In recent years, Google has been evolving search to encompass visual elements, particularly images. With the advent of MUM, Google Lens and now Google Vision AI, it’s clear that traditional organic search and local SEO are headed in this direction. Extensive testing by BrightLocal, Mike Blumenthal and other thought leaders in the local SEO space has shown that Google AI understands objects contained within photography at an increasingly accurate rate.

According to Claire Carlile from Brightlocal, “It’s likely that more and more of our customers and potential customers will begin their journey with a visual image search. This means that images will become prominent and influential in these journeys, and that Google will increasingly be evaluating the content of our images in order to present the user with the most relevant results.”

But perhaps equally as important, it’s becoming increasingly clear through testing that the composition of images can dramatically affect how Google is able to understand them.

Testing: Visual Search & the HVAC Industry

Subsequently, we decided to do some of our own testing here at Mediagistic, and we took a long look at Google’s new Vision AI as it pertains to the HVAC industry. In the examples below, you can see that the first image is pretty clearly understood by Google as “home appliances” (Google does not yet understand “air conditioner” as a specific subset of this category according to our testing):

Cloud Api 1

However, in the second image, the AI appears to get confused by the people, the dog, and the plants. And for some reason, pants:

Cloud Api 2

Furthermore, testing of the Google Cloud Vision API also has shown that Google reads text contained within images. See the two examples below:

Cloud Api 3
Cloud Api 4

As you can see in the highlighted areas above, Google is able to understand the branded logos on the air conditioner units depicted in the photography. This means that Google is able (or soon will be able) to parse verbiage contained in signage, labels, etc., and factor that information into how it contextually understands a piece of photography on a website or a GBP profile.

Takeaways for Local SEO

All of this is to say that it’s possible to compose images in such a way that they will be optimal for Google’s visual search capabilities. In other words, the photography you use in your GBP listing and on your website may start impacting how Google understands your business and the services you offer. Subsequently, the takeaways here are threefold:

  1. Literal vs. Lifestyle Imagery: While lifestyle images tend to be optimal from a consumer appeal standpoint, very straightforward / literal imagery like the one in the first example is likely to be more easily understood by Google. Having a good mix of both will be increasingly important.
  2. Original Brand Photography: Brands that make an effort to create more imagery like the image in the first example will stand to gain, particularly when the AI’s vocabulary expands to encompass terms like “air conditioner” or “ductless AC,” instead of broader terms like “home appliance.” Feeding that content to Google via GBP listings and your website will help to position HVAC brands for greater visibility when this occurs.
  3. Visible Text: Google’s ability to comprehend visible text in images means that visible signage and brand labels contained within images are now in play from an SEO standpoint as well.

As a final note, Google recently updated its guidelines to specify that stock photography is no longer allowed in GBP listings, so all content produced for visual search needs to be original.

Local SEO for Home Services Businesses

Staying ahead of these and other digital marketing trends will help to ensure your 2023 marketing campaigns are optimized to achieve the greatest performance and most valuable results. Our team at Mediagistic continually keeps a finger on the pulse of the digital marketing industry so we can help you craft effective campaigns that make use of all the latest trends and technology.

Looking for more help with your HVAC marketing efforts? Mediagistic’s digital marketing team can help streamline your marketing activities, build a high-performing digital marketing program for your business, and grow your dealership’s annual revenue. Get in touch today to find out how Mediagistic can help.

Eddie Childs is the Director of Corporate Marketing for Mediagistic. His writing has been published by a range of websites and publications including Copypress.com, Jambase.com, NFLSoup.com, FootballNation.com, and Boating World, KnowAtlanta, Men’s Book, Cobb in Focus, TCL, Blush, Charged Electric Vehicles, Business to Business, and Catalyst magazines. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on Linkedin.

Featured image via iStock

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