Voice search was the hot topic of 2017. This 2018, a different kind of search is poised to reign supreme — a visual kind.
Earlier in 2016, Search Engine Journal’s #SEJTHINKTANK Webinar Series discussed the future of visual marketing. The talk served as a powerful reminder of the importance of visuals in relation to search engine optimization (SEO). The discussion offered compelling points as proof, including:
- The human brain processes images 60,000x faster than text
- Customers are 80 percent more willing to engage in content with images; they can also remember 65 percent of visual stimuli compared to 10 percent of auditory stimuli, and
- According to 93 percent of consumers, images are one of the most important deciding factors.
For marketing experts, it’s no secret that compelling images play a key role in customer engagement and conversion. But the arrival of innovations, such as Google Lens and Pinterest lens, is spelling out a different story in the field of visual search, particularly with SEO.
While visual search will not completely displace the importance of text-based search and keywords, it will still affect the SEO and SEM industry. How will this happen, though?
Defining Visual Search
Currently, major search companies employ three different visual processes, which include the following:
- Traditional image search and textual queries
- “Snap and search” features enabled by pixel-by-pixel image searches
- Reverse image searches that depend on structured data
Among the three types, pixel-by-pixel image search is the only form that allows consumers to search for products or learn more information online by simply uploading a photo. The search engine then focuses the query on the part of the image consumers would like to research. It shares similarities with text search, only it uses an image to represent the query.
What the Future Holds
So, what do these innovations mean for businesses and users?
Now, all it takes is one photo to get answers from search engines. For example, you can snap a photo of a restaurant and have Google immediately offer its basic information: name, location, and menu specials. E-commerce stores will also benefit when they upload unique images paired with good product reviews to entice buyers.
The competition online will also be fiercer with Pinterest’s visual search engine. This, however, will only redirect searchers to Pinterest posts. Businesses must develop a strong presence on this platform before they can extend audience reach.
Combined with the rise of voice search, the trend may pave the way for interface-free SEO.
Bracing for the Impact
Optimizing for visual search calls for applying fundamental SEO practices. While structured data remains relevant, it is important to prioritize the clear display of images. Doing so helps visual applications process images easier. Also, do not forget to practice basic image-based SEO techniques, such as:
- Optimizing image titles with targeted keywords
- Image sitemap submissions
- Optimizing images according to ideal size and file types
- Run images through structured data tests
- Image badges setups
Thanks to visual search, e-commerce businesses will gain another platform that promotes better customer experience. Marketers and entrepreneurs both anticipate its impact on paid media, which encourages a new outlook on image optimization.