Visual search tools offer a move away from keyword searching – or do they? Where is this evolving search methodology heading and what does it mean for marketers?
Savvy Marketers are Always Looking for an Edge
Online marketing is about always looking for an edge – and part of that strategy involves optimizing a website so that it’s found by both human users and search engines. When it comes to optimization, a lot of attention is focused on text and code updates. To maximize visibility, it’s vital to optimize images as well. Many people literally leave money on the table when they neglect to optimize their website images. Let’s look at the importance of image optimization and how the newer visual search technologies can make image SEO the new secret weapon for savvy marketers.
The Platforms & The Players
While all of these activities can help make a site easier to find by Google and human searchers, what if we were to skip ahead into the future, where our cell phone cameras became the user interface instead of a keyword search? You can sample that kind of technology now with Pinterest Lens. While this visual search technology that suggests recipes when trained on food, or related outfits when given a clothing image to focus on, is about a year old, it has great potential to be the forerunner of the AI to a whole new world of visual search.
Google, Bing and others are also working on, and offering initial versions of visual search platforms. Since the visual search tool needs to make correlations regarding the images it is fed, so it can make associations and then serve up results/recommendations, it will still be vital to tag images with keywords. For example, Pinterest Lens considers what the picture is about, then delivers a word cloud of keywords and related images it thinks best describe the subject image. It will also provide recommendations for further research, which can take people in many directions from their original image query.
Pinterest offers its Lens service right now as a way to discover more within the Pinterest universe, which is large, but not all-encompassing. Where things really get interesting is the additional evolution of voice search with smart assistants such as Alexa and Google Home. What might be possible with a combination of visual and voice search? Could typing in a search query become a thing of the past?
Keywords & Tagging Will Continue, If Not Grow, In Importance
As of now, keyword tagging and creation of descriptive file names give marketers excellent opportunities to get their images found in visual search results. This means that keywords aren’t going away, but the way they will contribute to search in the future will be a bit different. The new method of searching may involve snapping a photo, and matching a section of an image, or whole image, against a catalog of thousands of images (as with Pinterest Lens and more new visual search services). The descriptive precision of keywords – not only the volume associated with them – will help marketers win the day in this new world of visual, and also voice search, or whatever combination of the two may be dawning in the not too distant future. Optimization will continue to be important, and as searchers break free from the browser, expert image optimization will be vital.
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Working with a top search engine optimization firm like Engine-IUS Marketing can help a business stay ahead of these revolutionary changes in search. Next time we’ll dig into the best ways to optimize images and provide some insider tips that can position marketers for today’s and tomorrow’s visual search technology.
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