Businesses of all sizes are trying to adapt to the permanently changing technological landscape. One of the recent trends that companies will have to embrace is visual search, which is projected to change the way people look for things on the internet.
While tech giants like Pinterest, Bing, and Google are investing vast amounts of money into their own visual search technology, small and medium businesses can take advantage of them and increase their products’ visibility, along with considerably growing their sales. Further, brands are also seeking ways to leverage image search technology within their own websites and online product catalogs.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how visual search has grown in recent years, and the steps midsize brands should take to start implementing this technology. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
What is visual search?
To some extent, it’s safe to say that visual search is here to turn text-based search into a secondary thing. It just makes more sense. People process visual data much quicker than they process text, which partly defines you want to look that particular thing up, but you can’t really figure out how to look for it.
The essential principle behind visual search is giving the user the possibility to take a picture and upload it to a platform and locate similar instances on the web.
Of course, visual search doesn’t exclusively relate to products; it’s projected to integrate into all fields of human activity. Imagine being on vacation and stumbling upon an astonishing monument. You’ll find all the information you need about it by simply snapping a picture of it and uploading it to a search engine. To some extent, visual search is a superior form of accessing data on the internet, mostly because there are more actual things in the world than words.
“While this technology will most certainly revolutionize the way we search for things on the web, its main field of application will be commerce. Not only because potential customers will be able to locate items in stores much quicker and easier, but stores will also be able to manage their stock much more precisely.” — Melanie Sovann, senior writer at Studicus and content editor at Trust My Paper.
In a study published by Gartner, it is projected that retailers will be implementing visual search technology to have a much more precise understanding of their current stock. That alone can help retailers save approximately $1.1 Trillion they lose annually on overstock and being out-of-stock.
However, it’s safe to assume that this will impact all businesses, irrespective of their niche. From Fintech and Blockchain startups to pizzerias and the best essay writing services — everyone needs to adapt.
Essential tips for visual SEO not to lag behind
Businesses of all sizes need to adapt to these changes as early as possible, but it’s especially true of mid-sized brands, if they’re looking to maintain steady growth. Failing to get accustomed to the latest technological standards may cost a business its future. Ecommerce sites that won’t be optimized for this type of search may simply be outperformed by smaller players.
There is a list of things you’ll have to do, in order to maintain your business’s profitability:
1. Name your images
Giving the images on your site a name is an age-old practice in traditional SEO, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere with visual search. The mechanisms that are responsible for crawling the web use filenames to navigate the internet.
By naming your images, we’re not referring to a random alphanumeric sequence, but rather brief and descriptive syntagms. For instance, “junior-Nike-jacket-black” or anything of that sort. At least that’s what Google’s guidelines on search engine optimization recommendations. However, as visual search will become more widespread, more precise recommendations on the topic will arise.
2. Optimize them too
When it comes to image SEO optimization, there is a myriad of things that can be taken into consideration: size, format, compression rate, and so forth.
Most of the time, the best things to do are:
- Consider using high-quality images, but be mindful of their size. Quality comes at the cost of slowing down your website.
- Consider compressing high-quality images a little bit. This will considerably decrease their size in exchange for a tolerable decrease in quality.
- Be mindful of different image formats as well. Understanding the differences between them will allow you to better optimize them for image search. The most commonly used ones are JPEG, PNG, and GIFs. They vary significantly in size, compression, and quality. Typically, JPEG will provide you with the best quality/size ratio.
3. Create an image sitemap
Image sitemaps are pretty much the same thing as sitemaps for web pages. It allows crawlers to access a set of essential data about the images on your site like:
- The type of image
- The topic of the image
- The alt text associated with it
- The title of the image
This is especially important for retailers since their images are generally filled with images. Not having an image sitemap may cause you to miss out on a lot of traffic.
4. Your images should be mobile-friendly
The nature of visual search implies that people will use it on a mobile phone more often than a computer. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your images are optimized for mobile screens.
How Brands Can Leverage Visual Search
By now, most of us have right clicked on an image, and taken the option to conduct a Google search. We’ve also dragged images into the Google Image search feature to find information. That’s because sometimes words don’t provide what we need to search for something. For example, if you see a pair of shoes you like, but don’t know the brand from the picture, how do you find them online?
Do you continue searching various colors, styles, and brand names in hopes that the right result comes up? That’s tedious, and not very efficient. This is just why visual search is so desirable, and why smart brands are taking advantage of this emerging technology.
How does this work? Imagine that you own an online store that sells fashion footwear. You have a new line of biker boots that you want to do well this season. As of now, you rank near the top for web pages about work boots. But, you still want to gain a place in the coveted ‘Image Block’ that appears at the top of many of Google text searches. You’d also like to have the image of your best brand of biker boots to appear in organic search engine results.
To do that, you have to keep in mind that Google’s visual search results depends on image recognition and using schema markup language.
Using Schema Markup Language for Visual Search
If you want your products to show up in Google’s Image block, style ideas, or similar items blocks, you have to use structured markup language for products. You’ll need to mark the following data at the least:
There are other markup fields available as well. You can test the accuracy of your use of markup language using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
Don’t Forget The Alternatives
In addition to leveraging Google’s image search function, you can also implement visual search directly on your own website. Also, don’t forget your ability to create conversions via your visual content on Pinterest and Instagram with the ‘Buy it Now’ option, and ‘Shoppable Posts’.
This technology is most certainly going to change a lot in the world of tech and business, especially the way organizations interact with their clientele and vice versa. Mid-sized companies need to keep their “fingers on technology’s pulse” and take the necessary measures to optimize their online presence and their websites for visual search in order to remain relevant on the market.
Dorian Martin is a regular contributor for Grab My Essay and WoWGrade. He is passionate about a broad spectrum of fields like Marketing, Blockchain, and Machine Learning. In his spare time, he loves developing his own business blog.
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- 4 Steps for Mid-sized Brands to Implement Visual Search Technology - January 30, 2020