About a month ago, after deciding to stop showing images next to the Google Places results in the organic SERP, the only place they were left was on the branded one-box. They were showing up at the side of the business information. A few days ago, a major update was launched and many things on the Place page itself changed. A few days ago Mike Blumenthal noted that street view images are also showing in the branded one-box.
Today, a new interface change rolled and there are now 3 images from the Place page showing in the branded one-box.
These all seem to be tests for something big coming up, and one could only speculate about what it will be. However, way too many new things happened for these all to be just a coincidence. The part with the images particularly is very interesting, because it seems like Google is well aware of their importance and is pushing them more and more. Here is some short retrospection of what Google was up to regarding business images:
May 5, 2011 – Google officially announced Business Photos
Beginning of May, 2011 – Google changed the Places interface and pushed the Photos upon all other sub-sections
Beginning of June, 2011 – Google stopped showing photos in the blended search results
Middle of June, 2011 – One photo started appearing in the branded one-box
Middle of July, 2011 – Google inserted “Report inappropriate photo” option, after some abusive cases
July 21, 2011 – Google rolled an updated with numerous changes on the Places interface, added an “Upload a photo” button
End of July, 2011 – Street view images started showing up in the branded one-box
28 July, 2011 – Three business photos showing up in the branded one-box