Savvy Internet users are starting to make more use of the advanced search options that are available to them online. For example, if someone is browsing online, and they see a photo of someone wearing a pair of jeans that they like, they then right-click on it and press “Search Google for Image.” Google will then deliver the visual results along with a possible related text-based search.
This is visual search, and it’s one of the biggest digital marketing trends this year.
People Are Visual Beings
People respond to and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 per cent of the information that is transmitted to the brain is visual.
Not only are we very visual by nature, but technology advancements are giving companies the ability to do more with visuals. The time is right for organisations to implement these new visual solutions through their digital marketing strategy, such as visual search.
What Exactly is Visual Search?
Visual search consists of every search that uses real-world images like photos or screenshots as a starting point. It not only helps Internet users discover the origins of certain products and pictures, but it could change how people discover and purchase products.
We are able to process visuals within 13 milliseconds. As Google and other search engines are trying to make their search results more aligned with what we want and how our brains work, there has been a huge push towards visual search in the last few years. Search engine companies want their programs to ‘think’ more like the people that are using them. As such, because humans look at images and see shapes and colours, machines are learning to do the same.
When a search engine processes an image, its algorithm identifies the objects within it and conducts an image search for the objects. For example, someone who does a visual search for a picture of jeans will find images of jeans that are identical or very similar. In some cases, Google will even have enough information in its database to suggest retailers that sell the jeans or give customer reviews on the specific jeans that they are looking at.
Visual Search Trends for 2019
More and more companies are starting to adopt visual search technology and, as such, the functionality is continuing to evolve. The main changes for visual search that we think will occur in the latter half of 2019 and into 2020 are as follows:
- Improving Visual Search Technology: Like other technology that is based on artificial intelligence, visual search is likely to become more accurate and more widespread in the next few years.
- Wider Visual Search Capabilities: Existing platforms that are primarily visual, such as Pinterest and Instagram are likely to add a combination of visual search/shopping functions to improve the experience for their users.
- Use of Text & Image Together: More and more brands will combine their visuals with text search in order to increase their reach.
- Increased Integration With Chatbots: The functionality of chatbots will advance so that it can be integrated with visual search.
How To Improve Your Business’ Visual Search Capabilities
There are a few simple steps that your business can take now to ensure that it is optimised for visual search.
- Manage the Images on Your Site: Images on your website should be displayed in a clear and uncluttered way so that they can be easily processed by web crawlers and other applications. This means they should be optimised to the most appropriate size and style type for your site. Once they have been optimised, their URL should be added to the sitemap.
- Advertise on Image-Based Platforms: Platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for visual advertising. In particular, the impact that Pinterest is having on the market is continuing to grow, and it has extremely well-developed visual search capabilities.
- Build Image Search Into Your Web Inventory: Only 8 per cent of retailers currently have image search built into their web inventory. If you can implement this ahead of the curve, you’ll gain a competitive edge in your industry.
- Fill Out Image Meta Data: Meta data is particularly important for SEO in visual search as it is one of the only sources of text-based information that website crawlers can use to analyse images. As such, it is important to make sure that metadata is filled out for every image on the site.
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