Visual search relies on images instead of textual queries to help users find information about products and other items of interest. Instead of typing a query in the search bar, you can upload a photo, a screenshot, or an image from the web, and the search engine will retrieve relevant visual content.
Visual search technology is supported by artificial intelligence, and it promises to be especially advantageous to ecommerce businesses in the future. Shoppers can simply show search engines what they are looking for, rather than composing detailed textual queries and descriptions.
Importance of Image SEO
In the same way that strong SEO keywords enhance your textual content, image SEO optimization enhances your visual content. Visual search is a rapidly growing trend that makes image SEO an indispensable part of any marketing campaign. Investing your time and resources in image SEO will help you build a stellar online presence for your brand.
Research and development of visual image search is being conducted by large social networks, search engines and marketplaces for implementation on their platforms. Impressive early results have initiated a tech revolution that promises to transform the way users navigate the webspace.
Online applications of visual search have only recently emerged, but the trend has always existed offline. People often use objects and images to convey what they want when words are insufficient. Visual image search provides a general visual concept to search engines so they can locate similar relevant products or information. For example, if you upload a photo of a bicycle to a search engine, it will display photos of similar bicycles from different brands.
Pioneers in Visual Search
Three companies in particular have achieved impressive results with visual search on their online platforms.
Not surprisingly, Google is among the early tech leaders in visual search. Google’s search tools are user-friendly and straightforward, requiring just a few clicks or taps to get the results you need.
To start using visual search, find the “Images” link in the upper right corner of the Google homepage. Follow this link and initiate your search by either uploading an image from your device or specifying its URL. The search engine will scan the image, determine what it depicts, and find similar content on the web. Simple and quick!
Google Lens is another useful tool that allows you to capture real objects and search for information about them on the web. This innovative technology is supported by a strong mix of artificial intelligence, computer vision and augmented reality. Images captured by users are processed by artificial neural networks that accurately determine their context.
The creation of Google Lens demanded a lot of time and hard work. In the early stages it had poor focus and failed to recognize surrounding objects and buildings. But these issues have been successfully resolved, and GL now provides a superior search experience.
Google Lens is particularly helpful to shoppers. If you like your friend’s dress or jacket, take a photo and upload it to GL to get inspiring ideas and find something unique for yourself. GL will scan the image and find similar styles in stores across the web.
GL is embedded in Google Pixel phones by default, and you can also access it via Google Assistant, Google Photos, or Google Maps.
The program can become your faithful guide when exploring new locations. Capture buildings or iconic landmarks to get instant information about their history and purpose.
GL is also able to scan text. Use an address or phone number from a company’s business card to find information about it on the web. Just capture the data with your phone and let Google Lens work its magic.
These are just a handful of GL’s useful features. Explore this program on your own to discover its full potential.
Bing’s visual search has much in common with Google’s. It also finds visual content similar to your image query. Access this feature via the search engine itself, or use its branded app, Microsoft Launcher, or Microsoft Edge.
Bing has one important advantage over Google: you can make your queries more specific by drawing a border around your item of interest, which is helpful when your photo depicts multiple objects.
Pinterest is essentially a large image exchange platform, so it is no surprise that it was among the first companies to implement visual search. Pinterest’s version works in the same ways as tools from Google and Bing, and delivers the most value to retailers in the fashion, decor, culinary and fitness industries.
A vast number of people use Pinterest to find inspiring ideas and trendy merchandise, making it the perfect platform for showcasing your products. Prospective customers using visual search will find your images and visit your website for more information.
Pinterest uses advanced search logic. It selects images with a similar style, rather than items with identical colors or shapes.
Tips for Elevating Your Images in Search
The growing importance of visual search means it can dramatically impact your future search engine rankings. Now is the best time to arm yourself with an effective action plan for image optimization. The Clever team has seven helpful tips to share for boosting your image SEO.
1.Select Strong Keywords
Even though search engines are learning to scan images, providing textual hints will simplify their work and make your content more visible to crawlers. Strong keywords transmit clear signals about the context of your images.
Long-tail keywords (three words or more) provide the most accurate ideas of your images, ensuring they will be displayed to the right people. For example, if you use the keyword “Toyota Hybrid SUV” instead of “Toyota,” people seeking that exact model can more easily find it.
2.Assign Titles to Your Images
Random image names like pic123.gif will not help your rankings, since they mean nothing to search robots. Add symbol combinations to long-tail keyword titles to make your images more recognizable.
Also, be sure to write informative descriptions.
3.Use Image Alt Tags
Alternative text (alt tags) provides additional details about your images. In addition to helping search engines determine the subject of your content and display it to interested users, alt tags makes images more accessible to the visually impaired. They can use special programs to scan alternative text and find what you want them to see.
4.Display Only High-End Photos
Do not skimp on premier-quality photos. Hire a professional photographer to capture your products from the best possible angles, and edit the images in eye-pleasing ways that fit harmoniously into your website’s design.
Never use blurry low-resolution photos. They diminish user experience and display your products in a bad light. Poor-quality images can alienate visitors and send them to your competitors’ sites.
5.Use Multiple Images
Multiple images allow clients to view your merchandise from different angles. Insufficient visual information can cause users to hesitate about buying your products.
In addition, multiple images send more signals to crawlers, increasing the chances of your brand being featured at the top of search results.
6.Use Correct Image Sizes and File Types
While high-resolution photos are a good thing for your site’s aesthetic and professional appearance, they can take an annoyingly long time to load. Today’s users are impatient and expect image loading to be spontaneous.
To preserve high loading speeds, choose optimal sizes for your images and compress them into light formats. There are many useful editors and converters online that can simplify image optimization.
To make sure your visual content appears harmoniously on different devices without losing its quality, avoid compressing images to the wrong format or into too-small dimensions.
SEO-friendly size and file types will greatly improve your user experience, drive more leads to your website, ensure longer viewing times and boost conversions.
7.Develop a Consistent Brand Image
Branded attributes like your logo on product packaging and your store signage should have a unified style, so new customers can find your company through different channels. Prospects should be able to upload your brand images to visual search tools and get abundant information about your business in return.
Visual search is a rapidly growing trend that promises to radically change the way people navigate the web, sell merchandise and shop for just about everything. Ecommerce companies who want to thrive in the long run should prepare now for the visual revolution by using high-quality images with relevant texts that attract the attention of search engines.