Have you ever wanted to Google something, but only knew what it looked like and not what it was called? You could try a long description of it, but the results often weren’t what you were looking for. Enter visual search.
What Is Visual Search?
With visual search, Internet users can take a picture and upload it to the search engine, which will then try to match the search results to the image as closely as possible. Depending on the image, the results can be information about the item, person, or location, or even where you can purchase it, if applicable.
Humans are able to process visual input much more quickly than they can process text. As search engines get better and better at processing visual searches, more and more people will rely on it instead of making a text-based query. It’s therefore essential that businesses optimize not just for keywords but also for visual searches.
How Do I Use Visual Search?
If your preferred search engine is Google, you can download the Google Lens app onto your phone or another mobile device. Through the app, you can take a picture of something that you want to search for and Google will identify it, provide information on what it is, or even tell you where you can buy it.
To perform a visual search through Bing, open the search engine. There is a camera button that will trigger the visual search feature. You can also use Pinterest to perform visual searches.
How Is Visual Search Different from Image Search?
Image search provides images as the result of a text-based search. Visual search originates with the image and uses that to perform the search. For example, if you use Google Lens to perform a visual search of a dog, Google would recognize it as a Corgi. While image search has been around for a long time, visual search is relatively new and is still gaining ground. Google Lens has only been out since 2017 and already users have performed 1 billion searches using the app.
How Do I Optimize for Visual Search?
36% of Americans (and 62% of young Americans) are using visual search, so it’s important to optimize for it now. That number will only increase in the future. Visual search is a very helpful tool. Google Lens can already identify over a billion different images and that number will only grow, increasing its utility.
To take advantage of the increasing number of users, it’s essential to include image optimization in your SEO strategy.
Trustworthiness and Authority
Optimizing for visual search has the same goals as your normal SEO strategy. Google will still prioritize authoritative and trustworthy pages over those that aren’t no matter where the search comes from. If your content is high quality and your page authoritative, that will boost your visual SEO.
The image location is important. Google prioritizes images for visual search that are located at the top of the page. It’s also important that the image is central to the page it’s featured on. Google wants to provide search results that are the most relevant and an image that is on a page as supplementary material isn’t as useful to a user as an image that is the focus of the page’s topic.
You wouldn’t think there would be a lot of text connected to an image, but there actually are multiple opportunities to place your keywords with an image. Google can’t crawl images themselves, but it can crawl the alt text, the description, titles, captions, and the image file name. Not only will this help your audience better understand what your image is about, but it will also provide Google with multiple opportunities to crawl that image.
Make sure your images are of high quality. The resolution should be high and you should use the right image size for your page. Just like all SEO, optimizing for visual search boils down to providing users with the best possible experience. If users benefit from and enjoy your images, they will visit your website more, improving your rankings. If users don’t gain any value from your images or find them difficult to use, they won’t visit your page, which will decrease your rankings.