Searching With Visuals: A Picture Gives A Thousand Results
Updated on: 7 December 2021
What happens when you have a question? You will probably pull out your smartphone and access Google to seek out an answer, right? Thanks to this search engine, everyone can easily access whatever information they need with the tap of a few buttons.
It’s fast, convenient, and accurate, which explains why Google is often the go-to option when you need to look something up. However, do you know Google has a search query limit of 32 words?
So what happens when you want to search for something but your query exceeds Google’s limit? Or another possible scenario – how do you phrase your question to get the result you want? Well, this is where visual search comes into play. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. And in this case, provides a thousand results!
So how does visual search work? And how can it help users? Well, let us share more details.
What is visual search?
Picture this: you are at your friend’s house, and you happen to spot an outfit that catches your eye. However, she is unable to remember where she got it, and the label has long since faded.
The first thing you’d probably do is type down the item’s description and hope that you get the relevant search results. But alas, the query limit cuts you off, and you cannot get the search results you desire.
That is where visual search can provide a helpful solution. Instead of spending hours scouring Google search results and keeping your eyes peeled for this particular item, you can use your phone’s camera to take a photo of the outfit and perform a visual search to find out where to get the clothing your friend owns.
Visual search is also beneficial when you need to search for something that is difficult to describe with words or can be easily misinterpreted in various ways. When you encounter such scenarios, using an image may provide you with more accurate search results.
Visual search optimisation as a marketing tool
From a digital marketer’s perspective, should you bother with visual search optimisation? The short answer is “yes”! Let us share why:
1. Helps give your content an angle
According to studies, 62% of Gen Z and Millennials have expressed a preference for visual searches. This statistic is backed up by the fact that websites such as Pinterest get as much as 600 million visual searches per month, and Google Lens has made use of this feature about a billion times.
While search engine optimisation (SEO) is excellent at generating organic traffic, image is not a significant component of this marketing tool. However, the benefits of visual search are substantial, as evidenced by the picture below:
The shift in emphasis on images is evidenced by Google featuring pictures from the most authoritative pages. By following the best practices of visual searches, you can align your website’s content with not just keywords but also key images. This will help with your website’s ranking and ensure a more compelling website copy.
2. Helps increase traffic for queries
Bryan Grey – a leading marketing consultant – has plenty of interesting facts on why digital marketers should optimise for visual search. Let us share some figures that have caught the eye:
- At least 27% of search queries are for images.
- By 2025, the global image recognition industry is predicted to hit about $39.87 billion.
- 55% of consumers mention that visual search has influenced their taste and style
- Brands that redesign their website to support visual search are expected to increase their digital commerce revenue by 30% starting from 2021.
- 85% of consumers focus more on visual information than text information when it comes to online shopping.
The convenience this tool provides helps to explain its popularity. With visual searches, you do not need to think of the words to key into Google’s search query whenever you need to look something up. This is why you need to consider aligning your website to accommodate such search queries if you want to drive more traffic to your online store or site.
3. Ensures that you stay on top of marketing trends
As a digital marketer, we are constantly looking for the latest trends to capitalise on. Fortunately, it appears that not many companies have adopted this newest trend, and we all know the early bird catches the worm. Being quick to implement new trends into your marketing strategies carries greater risks but also generates enormous benefits when they succeed.
Tips on best practices for visual search
Visual searches might be the next big thing, but it is not easy to incorporate this strategy into your marketing campaign because optimising for pictures is not the same as optimising for content. It is very much unlike content SEO. Let us share some quick tips to help you:
1. Offer lots of images
When you optimise your website for visual search, it’s good to offer plenty of pictures for your products. You should not rely on just one image to convey a specific product because you may end up missing out on several leads. Having multiple photos will ensure that products have a better chance of appearing on the search result pages regardless of the angle viewed by the user.
For example, if they take a picture from the side, they should find a side profile of your product on your website. Taking multiple images ensures that your audience has a better chance of finding your website, thus earning more crucial leads.
2. Add alternative text
Also known as “alt tags” or “alt descriptions”, these texts usually appear in place of the picture should the image fail to load on the screen. While texts are not the best substitute, it’s a better alternative to seeing a broken image URL appearing on your website.
One of the advantages of using alternative text is that it can be read by search engines, allowing them to understand the context of the image and the picture’s significance. Those with screen readers also need the alternative text to understand the image’s context.
When adding an alternative text, make sure that the description matches the image you have selected. For instance, if your image was of a woman holding a pink umbrella, your alternative text may read: “Young adult woman holding a pink umbrella to protect her from the rain.”
3. Use descriptive filenames
As mentioned earlier, context is everything because you are trying to get the images to as many users as possible. While it may be common to see image files that are titled “IMG_87045.jpg”, it’s better to rename the file and replace it with something more descriptive.
Going back to the woman holding an umbrella example, describe what users can expect to see in the image. Again, “IMG_87045.jpg” provides no context to readers, whereas a file name along the lines of “woman-with-pink-umbrella.jpeg” makes perfect sense.
4. Have an image sitemap
An image sitemap is similar to a geographical map in real life. However, instead of helping you find places in the real world, the sitemap is a file where you provide all the information, such as the images and videos embedded in your website, and document the connection between them. It helps to inform search engines about your site’s organisational content.
Google can access and read this file to identity, crawl, and index your images, thereby increasing the odds of search engines listing your websites when a consumer performs a visual search on your company’s products.
5. Use appropriate image sizes and file types
It’s also essential to consider the file size of your image when optimising the pictures on your website. After all, the file size can affect how fast your website displays its content to users, thereby impacting user experience.
When your website takes a significant amount of time to load, it will impact its ranking on Google, as this is a crucial part of Technical SEO. Moreover, a slow website will probably turn away any potential leads as consumers grow impatient with accessing your content.
Do also note the file types you are using on your website as well. For instance, our benchmark, Google Images, can support the following file types:
It is also essential to note that each file type comes with its pros and cons. Some file types, such as GIFs, may not be compatible with some commercial websites because they are essentially concise videos that loop infinitely, similar to a story in social media.
As Google and various other platforms continue to innovate and redefine what users can do with the search function, it is integral that digital marketing agencies and marketers begin planning for the future of search, which is increasingly heading in a visual direction.
Furthermore, with tech giants looking to integrate virtual and augmented reality into the daily technology we use, establishing an interactive metaverse, we need to consider that a significant portion of the internet users will soon expect such features to be readily available to them.