They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In SEO, a picture may be worth a thousand search words.
Google and other search engines have never taken image search more seriously than they are now. In a world teeming with competition, the goal is to be creative enough to have a little moment in the sun. Products and services that are neither visually interesting nor photogenic can use a little help from the imagination.
Sadly, a lot of businesses put image optimization at the backend of their SEO efforts. Since Google and Bing display blended search results with images and video, failing to maximize your image utilization can lead to missed opportunities.
AI Understands Language and Photos
This summer, Google launched an image search and photo storage service called Google Photos. At Google’s conference in San Francisco earlier this year, the tech giant discussed software that recognizes images of people, things, and places.
Google’s senior vice-president for products, Sundar Pichai, revealed that Google Photos’ capability of recognizing the content of images coming from an artificial intelligence known as deep learning.
Trying to find something based on an image alone used to be difficult, if at all possible. Recent advances in artificial intelligence have made image-based search possible, opening the door up for a multitude of marketing opportunities.
From Pinterest to Yelp, let’s take a walk at some of the latest developments in the world of image search.
Deep Learning Powers Pinterest
Pinterest now lets you shop with pictures, thanks to deep learning.
With the image-recognition software, Pinterest and online footwear retailer Shoes.com tested new ways to browse using just images instead of text.
Pinterest’s new visual search tool allows users to draw a box around a part of an image to find visually similar items from an index of more than a billion. For instance, drawing around a water heater seen in an image of kitchen will turn up pictures like it, including close-up ones of the exact model.
Their system learned to understand images better by drawing on the text attached to the photos shared on the platform.
The truth is the use of image-search technology to make discovery and shopping easier has been explored by other companies before. In 2010, Google bought Like.com, which had rolled out a shopping comparison site that can find products visually similar to the one selected by the user.
Pinterest’s head of visual search Kevin Jing says image-based search is more likely to become indispensable. The image representation powered by deep learning is much more accurate than any of its predecessors, and is only projected to improve further.
This is not to say the new visual search tools are perfect. It’s only when a significant number of users have tried these tools that it will become clear whether the technology has improved enough to have an impact on how people interact with online services.
This summer, Pinterest introduced the buy buttons feature. This function will be implemented for Pinterest users and mobile apps in November.
Yelp Uses Image Recognition to Improve Search Results
Sprawling review site Yelp is using image search and that means you’re getting better results when looking for, say, a restaurant.
On top of being a review site, Yelp is also a search site. It won’t only give a list of the top ranked restaurants near you, but also a list of nearby restaurants that for example, serve vegetarian barbecue, or allow pets, or have a great ambience, so on and so forth.
Yelp’s first-ever image recognition project is focused on surfacing the best photos taken in different locations. Users can see photos at the top of every Yelp entry, which aid their first impression of the business.
The motivation behind this capability is finding a way to automatically identify the best selection of images to users the most comprehensive sense of what the business can offer, expresses Yelp’s Frances Haugen.
“We’re trying to figure how we can bubble up the best photos, the photo that’s going to make you take that risk,” she says. “The photo that going to let you go to that new hair stylist, or let you pick that wedding venue, or pick the restaurant to take a friend out to their birthday dinner.”
What this all means is that Yelp must find a way to discriminate between a photo of a mouthwatering four-course meal and a low-quality, drunken selfie. It obviously relies on more than just reading captions – it’s smarter than that.
Recent developments in image search can significantly revolutionize the face of online advertising. With new search tools and features, this can reinvent user search behavior by creating actions that produce new search results.
Have you optimized your business for image search? As the leading Denver SEO in company, we can help you adapt to this innovative change.
Contact our experts today.