If a picture is worth a thousand words, an inappropriate photo posted to your online business listing would be equivalent to a long, scathing negative review. A cockroach sitting in the corner of the room. An underwhelming plate of food. Regardless of whether or not these photos were actually taken at your business, so long as they appear on your online review site, they have the power to drive potential customers away in an instant. Photos that misrepresent your business should be treated as any fake or illegitimate negative review— they can and should be removed from your online listings. We discuss why business owners should start paying closer attention to the photos posted to their review sites, and lay out the steps you can take to remove the negative images from your photo gallery and protect your brand identity.
The Power of Visual Content
In many ways, a photo of your business can have a greater effect on your customers than an actual review. While a review requires the reader to take the customer’s word for it, a photo posted to your online listing provides visual proof, and is more likely to evoke an immediate emotional response. It’s no coincidence that Yelp users spend almost triple the amount of time on a business page with photos compared to a business page without. Keep in mind, these pictures can also come with captions. Accompanied with a caption, the picture is worth a thousand words and then some. Your photo gallery can very well be the customer’s first impression of your business. So to allow unpleasant images of your business to remain online, is far too great a risk.
Maintaining Your Online Photo Gallery
The first step is to remain proactive about monitoring the photos posted to your online review sites. If you catch a negative photo as soon as it’s posted, the less damage it can do to your online reputation and overall revenue. It’s also a good habit to continue to add photos of your business regularly. This not only helps to bury some of the negative imagery, but also improves your local search rankings organically. While it’s a useful strategy to suppress the negative content with positive photos of your business, it’s really only a temporary fix. A more effective solution would be to report the inappropriate photos and get them removed permanently.
Flagging and Reporting Inappropriate Photos
Most online review sites, including Google and Yelp, allow you to report an inappropriate photo by either flagging it as a user in the public view of your business page, or by flagging the photo as the owner in your business dashboard. You can take your photo dispute a step further by contacting the review site support team directly, and bringing the photo in question to their attention with a link and detailed description.
When reporting inappropriate photos, be clear in your reason as to why the photo should be removed. Some cases are more straightforward than others, photos of the wrong business, screenshots of an email or a text message, for example, do not demonstrate a general customer experience at your specific location. A picture of an injured cat posted to a pet store’s business page, or a bug floating in a pint of beer, are examples that would also violate photo content guidelines, but are not as obvious as other examples.
Photo Removal Success Story
A customer posted two photos to a local restaurant that would’ve otherwise looked like two ordinary pictures of half-eaten plates of food. Closer inspection of the photos revealed that the intent behind posting the photos was to portray a negative experience with the business. The first photo was accompanied by the following caption: “Three of the people in our group ordered the 10oz prime rib and this is what they all received. Thin overcooked with mostly fat.” The second photo by the same user had a similar caption: “Three in our group ordered the 12oz prime rib. What they got was a thin overcooked mostly fat steak.”
Users will often browse the photos before even looking through the reviews since it gives them a clear idea of what to expect when arriving at your business. Since these photos unfairly misrepresented the business and did not showcase a typical customer experience, the photos were reported for inappropriate content and successfully removed from the local restaurant’s business page.
Seeing is believing, so when photos are published to your online listings, they will have an immediate impact on your customers. The longer you wait to act upon the inappropriate photos affecting your brand identity, the higher the risk of losing those customers. A picture can be worth more than a thousand words— you’re looking at potentially thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Stay on top of monitoring and updating your online photos, and your brand will be that much stronger.
Online business photos, business reviews and ratings, your ranking in local search results and social media presence are all parts of the whole strategy to maintain and improve your online reputation.