More thumbnail images are showing in mobile search results

In the past year, Google has dramatically increased the number of images to display on the mobile search results snippets. Eric Hedekar from Moz confirmed that he noticed a spike in thumbnail images shown in the search result page on March 7. According to RankRanger, 75% of the search results show at least one image, now, up by 40%.

What are the image thumbnails?

A Thumbnail image is a representation of a larger image that is shown in the individual search result snippet based on the title, URL, and text description of the page. We took some examples down below:

More thumbnail images are showing in mobile search results

What did Google say?

When Google was asked about this change, a spokesperson said: “We’re always working on new ways to enhance Search with helpful visuals, and we encourage site owners to enrich their pages appropriately.”

Why this is important?

Imagine you have high-quality content that is ranking very well on Google. Let’s say it was ranking on the top 3 results. However, your competitor has an image thumbnail in the search results, but you don’t. The user will most likely skip over your link and click on the competitors link all because of the image. Sounds silly, right? But if you think about it, our eyes are visually attracted to images in comparison to text, so it does make sense.


As we have seen or know, Google has been testing image thumbnails for some time. And now they are testing it on desktop results. Here is a couple of screenshots from RankRanger charts that shows the increase on how often an image displays for any given query.


Here is the screenshot of the average number of mobile image thumbnails on page one to five on March 11th.

RankRanger image thumbnail results

What is Google’s quest for an image-based mobile SERP?

Whether it is a carousel or image thumbnail, Google clearly sees image thumbnails as an important element to its search result snippet as they continue to aim to keep mobile users engaged with the SERP. Now, it would be a great time to start incorporating thumbnails to your content and drive more traffic and conversion!

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