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Providing appropriate and up-to-date information in Google My Business is crucial for the organic visibility and the accurate perception of every brand.

Images are a key element in the brand presentation. If your business operates in multiple locations, updating them manually could be timely and prone to errors.

STORES
IMAGES

In this article we are going to share how we automised the process of updating more than 2500 images for more than 550 stores which lead to a significant increase in the number of image impressions of the brand.

As a result, we increased the image views with over 300% in literally a few days.

In absolute terms, as you can see from the graph, these are hundreds of thousands of incremental views per day.

We improved the brand image while giving the customers the ability to view professionally-made and relevant images.

Screen shot 1

Image views, sourced from Google My Business, total for all stores

Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most popular, free and accessible instruments by Google.

We see it as mandatory for all businesses with physical stores, since when used correctly, GMB can help increase organic visibility and inform customers about important changes in the work of the specific store – working times, available services, location directions, contact information, etc.

This way, on one hand, you gain customer trust, increase visibility on the Search Engine, and on the other – the customers find your stores much more easily and hence, take the decision to visit you faster.

In order to effectively use the instrument you should keep your business information updated. When the business works with a small number of physical stores this isn’t complicated to do – using the GMB interface you can easily make the necessary changes.

However, what can you do when you operate over 550 stores and you want to make multiple changes in the data for your multiple locations? 

We were given this task by one of the largest delivery companies in Bulgaria.

CASE STUDY

Our first step was a detailed analysis of the current situation. As a result of it, we noticed a couple of issues which we discussed and prioritised with our client.

One of the most important problems we noticed was the lack of relevant images – the client’s profile relied on images added by their customers and contained no images to appropriately represent our client’s brand image and their services.

Other than the negative influence on the brand perception, this caused limited organic visibility and a lower number of impressions compared to their competitors (GMB provides a comparison instrument which helps to compare your business’ impressions to the mean number of impressions of your competitors).

SOLUTION

We agreed upon the decision to take professional photos of all stores and update the previous ones in GMB. This meant uploading over 2500 images.

In the wider context of the project, there were other tasks for automation, for example, the update of the information about the stores. This lead us to the idea to find an automated solution.

According to the standards of our work, we created a detailed report for our client in over 30 pages, analyzing the issues and offering solutions, respectively.

Firstly, we discussed using GMB API. On one hand, it requires registration and whitelisting, on the other hand, we realised we would find a faster solution than developing an own app which would consume API.

Our alternative solution was creating an algorithm whose end goal was automatic generation of an export file containing the URL of the photos of each store. This file could easily be uploaded in GMB, updating the information about the stores.

The first task in the algorithm was to standardize the URL addresses by directly linking each image with the right store.

For this case, we used URL syntax in the following format: 

https://{ClientURL}/photos/{Location ID}_{Picture ID}.JPG

Where:

{ClientURL} is the address of the client’s storage (клиентско хранилище?), which could be used for other purposes such as the visualization of data about the stores on the client’s website.

{Location ID} – ID of the store as added on Google My Business

{Picture ID} – a whole number starting from 0, incremented by one for each subsequent image, thus identifying its sequence number. A value of 0 identifies the main photo.

The predictable data index allowed us to add a custom JS feature to Google Sheets (https://developers.google.com/apps-script/guides/sheets/functions) (httpstatuscode ()), which crawls the expected URLs and returns HTTP request status. When the function receives status 404 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_404), crawling will stop.

Using formatted columns in Google Sheets, we copied the function for all objects and obtained a matrix of valid (HTTP Status codes 200) URL addresses of photos of the store locations.

Screen shot 2

Google Sheets template, using custom JS function

Screen shot 3

JS Script editor view

https://developers.google.com/apps-script/overview

After generating the matrix of valid URLs, we used the built-in functions of Google Sheets (IMPORTRANGE) and arranged the data in a sheet ready for export:

www.support.google.com/docs/answer/3093340?hl=en


RESULTS

We increased the image impressions by over 40% in literally a few days.

We improved the brand image by enabling users to see relevant and professionally-looking photos.

The analysis of the results showed a threefold increase in the visibility of the business above the average level of competing businesses (data from Google My Business).

Screen shot 4

Image impressions, Google My Business data, total for all store locations. The data is extracted in a Google Data Studio report, for the convenience of the customer.

We estimate our time invested in the specific problem at 20-30 hours. The images were provided by our partner, who ensured the uploading and maintenance of the centralized storage.

Thanks to the combination of our team’s expertise and established operational procedures for client service, we were able to quickly and efficiently:

  • Analyse the business case;

  • Find and offer a scalable solution based on accessible and free tools;

  • Create the necessary project documentation;

  • Implement and deliver the solution.

CONCLUSION

Solving this case is an excellent example for our professional approach – concrete and goal-oriented business analysis, identification of low-hanging fruits and finding an effective solution for eating them.

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