Mordy Oberstein from RankRanger has reported that the Google mobile search results interface has seen a dramatic increase in the number of image thumbnails displayed in the mobile search results.
In fact, according to RankRanger data, there was a 183 percent increase on July 13, 2018 — from 15.7 percent of all mobile page one search results containing image thumbnails to 44.5 percent. That trend has continued to hold for several days.
Here is the chart showing the sudden increase in mobile thumbnails:
What do image thumbnails look like in the mobile results? Well, you have a pretty good chance of seeing them yourself if you try a search, but here is a screen shot of one I was able to easily replicate:
The previous increase in this metric was during September 2016, where the mobile image thumbnails were showing on under 1 percent of all mobile page one search results and jumped to over 10 percent. Now, we are at almost 45 percent of mobile search results showing image thumbnails for the query set RankRanger tracks.
For years and years, Google tested image thumbnails in the mobile search results. Now, it seems Google clearly loves showing them.
What does this mean for SEOs? Well, make sure your images are marked up on your page and are clearly described in your HTML so Google can potentially show them in the mobile search results. One has to assume that search results with image thumbnails have a higher click-through rate than those without images.