The Future is visual: visual search and SEO

Oct 5, 2018 by
The Future is visual: visual search and SEO

With Google saying they will now track referrals from Google Images under its own category, this got us thinking about images and how important they are to SEO. Turns out, visual searches may be the future of SEO.

Back in the Dark Ages, Google was blind. To find a specific image online was a quest of a thousand searches. Then, slowly, it got better. Image searches could be done just with the info in the HTML code. Later, as intelligence evolved within the species with every update, we had Google Goggles, which allowed us to search not based on images or words but an actual picture taken by the user of pretty much anything.

Then it went extinct, consumed by the newer Google Lens, which by being associated with Google, means it’s based on AI. The human brain can look at an image of something and know what it is in a few milliseconds. So can Google Lens, with Google owned DeepMind having not only helped build the thing with neural networks but cognitive psychology. With this, the search  algorithm tries to and resemble a human mind processing an image with all the complex thinking that’s involved, as opposed to just a machine.

Google image searchNow how does this fit into SEO? With the ability for someone just to take a picture and ask Google to find items based on the item in the pic, retailers will now find a boost of sales as people snap-shop-buy through the Internet. With SEO, and our need for more traffic, a site could benefit from creating SEO-friendly alt text, image sitemaps, SEO-friendly image titles, and completely original images. However, this type of searching is so new to SEO as we understand it (a largely text based system), trying to gear a site for better image SEO is going to be a challenge because as of yet we simply don’t know what works and what doesn’t.

Meta-data, however, is the big thing you should focus on. Meta-data is in everything on your site, from text to visual media, but a special focus should be had on images. It’s tedious to catalogue metadata into every single image, but it should help a lot in bettering rankings in visual search.   As of other methods, we have found the following can help:

  • Creating alt attributes for images using target keywords
  • Using image sitemaps
  • Optimizing images for mobile

Text based searching isn’t going anywhere, but the future is indeed visual and driven by AI. We have exciting times ahead, so remember to adapt your business to stay ahead.