Okay, answering this honestly… when was the last time you made an online purchase based purely on the written description of an item, or without seeing an image or any kind of visual search technology?
Following in the footsteps of how voice search is evolving search rankings and how we approach digital marketing, visual search technology isn’t far behind as it continues to advance with Pinterest, Bing and now Google implementing this technology. Okay, so are probably questioning what is visual search technology? What do digital marketers need to know about visual search technology? Don’t worry, in our Cheshire web design trends guide we will answer all your questions…
What is Visual Search Technology?
Traditionally with image search, a user would search using a written word search query within a search engine to find images, well visual search allows users to search using the image as the query, and search within images and be presented with related objects.
Using a much more complex algorithm, rather than just identifying the image, search engines understands the image pixel-by-pixel to search within parts of the image.
Major search engines such as Google and Bing have already implemented visual search with Pinterest also capitalising on the trend to with over 600 million visual searches being conducted.
Bing Visual Search Technology
Having attempted a similar concept titled ‘Search By Image’ in 2009, Bing went back to the drawing board and introduced Bing Visual Search in June 2017.
When searching for visual inspiration, Bing images now present a magnifying glass symbol in the top left of the image named the visual search button. When clicking the button, users are then presented with a visual search box where you can click and drag the search box around an object within that image. After drawing around the object, on the right-hand side the user is presented with related products where they can click search for similar products then click straight through to the e-commerce store.
In the example, I simply searched Kitchen Décor, then after drawing around the light, was presented with numerous similar lights.
Arguably, Pinterest are the pioneers of visual search and continue to roll out further developments to try and establish themselves as visual search leaders, starting with Pinterest Lens…
Much like how Google Lens work, Pinterest Lens encourages users to take a photo within the app, then Lens identifies items within the photo and lets users search for related objects. Overseeing a 140% increase over the last 12 months, the app now has over 600 million visual searches every month. Since it’s introduction, Pinterest have introduced Pincodes, a QR code-type technology along with the popular Lens your Look which allows you to add your picture with a text-based search.
Moving in a slightly different direction, Google Lens is smartphone based visual app where it uses your smartphone camera to act as a visual browser. When directing the phone’s camera at an object, Google Lens will attempt to identify the object or read labels and text and show relevant search results and information.
For example, let’s say you take a photo of a restaurant, Google Lens will not only identify the restaurant, it will also provide opening times, menu links and other nearby eateries with the same cuisine.
Why should you make your Ecommerce Site Visual-Search Friendly?
As a Cheshire web design agency, we understand visual search technology may not be something small businesses will be able to implement yet, but there are some very easy steps you can follow, you can keep users high on your sales funnel.
- Optimized Images – Instead of loading up massive images files, make sure your images are properly optimized, this will help improve page load speed.
- SEO – Make sure all your images are keyword driven by being named correctly, contain schema markup and hold relevant metadata, so search engines can read and identify the images and understand it’s attributes such as product name, price etc..
- Mobile Friendly – It may seem an obvious recommendation but have you all noticed that the visual search platforms in this blog are all mobile based? Because you cannot take pictures on your desktop, it’s vital you have a fully responsive website.
Cheshire Web Design Verdict
Speaking as a Cheshire web design agency, in our opinion we firmly believe that visual search technology will never directly replace text search. However, we do believe visual search will present an additional opportunity to improve your customer shopping experience, provide an alternative avenue to be found in search, and ultimately generate additional traffic and revenue.
If you wish to discuss how to implement visual search into your WordPress e-commerce store, or explore other ways to help your website grow, get in touch with your local Cheshire web design agency or subscribe to our Web Grower newsletter.