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Your Customers Are Searching With Images – Is Your Website Ready?

David Bosley

These days, it’s not shocking to grab an app and be able to interact with the physical world — either by snapping a pic to search or by placing a 2D representation of a product in your home using augmented reality. It may seem commonplace to us now, but only a few years ago visual search, or searching with images instead of text, was in its infancy. As Millennials take over the web, they’re looking for faster and easier ways to find the products that are most relevant to their immediate needs, quickly and without having to type. That means visual search and voice search are going to be two of the hottest new trends . . . that aren’t actually new at all. Your customers are already searching for your products visually. Is your website ready to serve up the information that search engines require for visual search?

Visual Search Stats That May Surprise You

A host of retailers are actively developing visual search capabilities, with early adopters such as Amazon having more than five years of R&D already under their belt. One of the leaders in the field is a brand that doesn’t even sell anything: Pinterest. The social media giant claims that over 600 million visual searches are performed on the platform on a monthly basis. What’s even more interesting is that Gartner claims brands that are early adopters for visual search can expect a 30% boost in revenue over under-prepared competitors as soon as 2021. Google is definitely on board, with advertising revenue for image-based ads generating 87% of ad revenue — far greater than the measly 3% growth of their text-based advertising business.

Companies Who Adopted Visual Search Technology

Optimizing for Visual Search

Optimizing your site for visual search is different than optimizing images for “traditional” search metrics. You’re probably used to adding page keywords to the name of the image file, alt text or description while minimizing the file size so it loads quickly. The AI behind the best visual search tech works by matching up various points and lines that are found within a picture, at a speed and accuracy that no human could possibly match. Some of the ways that you can boost your website’s visual search results include:

  • Boost the organic visibility of your image by incorporating robust metadata
  • Submit clean and clear images to your sitemaps, with file names and titles that are carefully selected to optimize discoverability
  • Consider advertising your products on Pinterest, as it will help your items be found next to other well-curated and visually similar items
  • Use “Product” markup schema to ensure that your items have enough information for Google to present them for purchase (Pro tip: This is also how you can get your products into Google’s shopping portal!)

The good news is that you won’t have to completely redo your website in order to boost your visual search chops. As you’re creating new content and refining your keywords and sitemaps, simply build in the information that you need to help search engines glom on to what you’re offering and deliver it to your customers.