Google is now experimenting with product listing ads in image search results. Some Google users are already seeing product ads appear at the top of their image search results pages.

This is big news for advertisers for two reasons:

  1. Google Images now makes up close to 33 percent of search results.
  2. Google Images provides the perfect segue from the information search phase to the evaluation of alternatives phase of the buying process.

There are a few differences to note between product listing ads shown in general SERPs and those shown in image search. In image search, product ads only show the image, the price and the company. Also, more ads appear in image search than general search results.

PLAs at the Top of General SERP
PLAs at Right Rail of SERP

In general SERPs, Google shows between four and eight PLAs. In image search, Google is showing as many as 20 PLAs in a slider with two sets of 10. Successful product listing ads have always been dependent on strong product images. This is truer now than ever before. Unlike in general SERPs where product images compete mostly with a page full of text, in image search product ads will be vying for visual attention against dozens of images.

Product Ads in Google Image Search


As seen here, this opens more ad real estate for more advertisers to get first-page quality placements and reach millions more potential shoppers.

Optimizing Product Ads for Google Image Search

With this recent update, now is a good time to review your product images to make sure you're using image SEO best practices. We have created a quick checklist of tips and tricks to help you ensure that your product listing ad images are optimized and ready to compete in this new, image-heavy landscape.

1. Optimize user experience

Shoppers who have never seen your product in person before are basing their purchase on the image displayed in the listing. Blurry images will not do your products justice. That is why it is important to use high resolution images.

Another way to optimize UX is to enable zoom functionality. It is hard for a consumer to base their purchase on one image alone. Allowing them to zoom in to see the details will aid them in their buying decision.

2. Photograph your product against a white background

Avoid using colored or busy backgrounds. A white background will allow your product to stand out.

3. Take advantage of ALT text

If, for whatever reason, your image does not load, ALT Text will show in its place. Use descriptive keywords that accurately describe your image. Be careful not to keyword stuff here and keep it relatively brief with 2-4 keywords.

Alternatively, ALT text -- like meta data -- helps Google index your product image under the proper keywords.

4. Use an informative filename

Avoid using a generic file name such as "image1.jpeg" or "main.png". The file name should describe your product image. Four words is a good length to keep in mind; anything longer and you risk diluting the keyword value. For example, if you are selling a red Lacost golf polo, name your product image file "lacoste-red-golf-polo.jpg".

5. Create relevant surrounding text

To avoid any shopper confusion, the image should accurately represent the text in the product listing. All image titles and captions should be descriptive of the actual picture. It is also important to place more relevant text closer to the image.