You are already used to the idea that SEO is continually changing, but now we are talking about a big change: visual search. This new concept helps users identify products shown in photos and go directly to the online store to purchase it.
The technology that enables visual search used to be available to consumers through specific platforms, such as Pinterest and Amazon. But now they only need their smartphone to snap a photo and get accurate product matches. The technology is Google Lens.
What Exactly Is Google Lens?
Google Lens is a visual recognition technology that uses machine learning to scan objects and offer actions the user can take, from learning more about the respective item to going to the checkout page to buy the product.
At the present Google Lens is capable of offering actionable information about seven categories of items:
- Retail products (clothing, consumer goods, personal care items, etc.) – find similar products and purchase them
- Barcodes – read the information contained in the barcode
- Business cards – save the contact details into the phone
- Books – obtain a summary and details about publication date and reviews
- Buildings and monuments – discover the historical background and opening hours
- Paintings in museums – learn all the facts about the painter and the story behind the work of art
- Plants and animals – discover details about the species, breed, life cycle, etc.
Why Has Google Lens Become a Key Player in Visual Search and SEO?
Although Alphabet launched Google Lens in 2017, for a few years it was available only on proprietary Google Pixel phones. As its popularity increased, Google Lens was made available to other brands of Android phones.
At the present, users can activate Google Lens from their camera app, by using Google Assistant or as a standalone app installed from Google Play store. What’s more, Google Lens became available for iOS devices, as well. That’s right – iPhone users can access Google Lens by installing the Google app or Google Photos.
Thus, everyone has access to a powerful and accurate visual search tool that helps them find products as they walk down the street and see something they like. Thus, you need to upgrade once more your SEO strategy to help consumers find your products not just via text, but also in photos.
How Google Lens Works in Finding Image Matches
Although is has recently come to the attention of marketing specialists, there are some relevant findings available about the way Google Lens works.
The team of specialists at Backlinko analysed over 65,000 Google Lens searches to understand how its visual search algorithm works. Here are some of the most relevant finds:
- 32.5% of results contained a relevant keyword in the title tag of the web page
- 64.4 is the average domain authority rank of Google Lens results (the ranking is between 0 and 100)
- 90.6% results come from websites optimised for mobile
- 33% of results are images appearing in the top quarter of the web page.
These findings show how important on-page SEO is even for visual search. Google has a complex algorithm that relies both on machine learning to identify visual objects and its spiders for determining the relevance of the image to a specific concept.
Is Visual Search Such a Big Trend that You Should Pay Attention To?
Some trends come and go, thus you may believe that you can sit this one out until you notice that it gains traction. But that’s a losing gamble. As a small business, you need tot take advantage of any new technology that offers you an advantage over big brands.
As a small business, you are more flexible in making changes, because you do not depend on boards of directors and corporate headquarters to issue a decision. Visual search is the way of the future, and there are research studies to prove it.
- a MIT research found the human brain can identify an image in just 13 milliseconds
- the AI company ViSenze reported that 62% of Millennial and GenZ consumers want brands to offer them visual search tools
- the State of Digital Advertising for 2019 report states that 21% visual search is among the biggest trends for marketers.
What You Need to Do to Rank for Visual Search
Now we get to what really matters to you. What exactly do you have to do for visual search ranking? As you will see, it does not involve a lot of work and the pay-off is tremendous.
1. Take Lots of High Resolution Product Photos
Investing in high quality photography for your products is now more important than ever. You need a professional photographer to capture your product from all the angles, showcasing its fine details and characteristic.
This is important because it helps the Google Lens AI find a close match to your products in photos snapped by users.
2. Publish Your Photos on Various Platforms and Media
It is not enough to add the photos on the product pages on your website. Google has an immense search power covering:
- social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest
- free and paid press release websites
- image sitemaps
- forums and blogs.
Thus, solid social media and content marketing strategies have double benefits: you will rank both for text searches and in visual search, as well.
3. Brand Your Images
As a basic best practice for any product photos you create and publish, always brand them with your logo. First of all, you protect your images from being used without right by others. Secondly, you create a visual bond with users.
As they see your logo next to products in Google Lens suggestions over time, consumers will learn to identify it quickly and tap on your products from the list of suggestions.
4. Visual Search Need Properly Tagged Photos
Visual search is not just about images, but also text. More precisely, you should pay attention to all the text fields pertaining to images you upload on your website:
- image name
- ALT text
Without exceeding the maximum characters limit, be as descriptive as possible in these texts, including your main keyword in them in a natural manner.
5. Optimise EXIF Data
EXIF is a set of data generated by the camera at the moment when you take the photo and embedded in the image. Some of the data contained in them are:
- Camera make
- Camera settings
Using an image editor such as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop, you can edit the EXIF data to include your brand name and your keywords. You should navigate the menu of the software to reach the function that allows you to edit the file and/or its metadata. These commands vary from one software suite to another.
Visual search is here to stay and Google Lens is just the latest tool users have to search for products in photos. Other players in this new field of technology are:
- Bing Visual Search
- Snapchat Camera Search
- Amazon StyleSnap
- Pinterest Lens.
Thus, with so many tools at their fingertips, consumers are very likely to start using visual search as the primary modality of searching for products and shopping. So, the sooner you start working on optimising your website and photos, the sooner you will start getting sales from Google Lens searches.