While we all know that Google loves to make sneaky little changes to its algorithms on a regular basis, often without telling anyone about it at all, what does always seem to remain a strong constant for the brand is its homepage.
If you look at the Google homepage when it first came into being, all the way back in 1998, it really doesn’t look vastly different to the homepage we know and love today. You know you’re onto a winner if you don’t feel like you need to make any changes in 24 years!
But if you take a closer look at the latest iteration of the homepage, you will notice a few very subtle details that have been added over the years – and the most recent of these is the Google Lens image search button.
This is just one big signal from the search engine that it will be placing increasing importance on visual search and image SEO now and in the future, which is certainly something to bear in mind where your digital marketing campaigns are concerned.
Content will still be king, of course, but what kind of content will wear the crown in the coming years?
What is image SEO?
Quite simply, image SEO is the practice of optimising your images so that search engines can crawl and index them through the use of alt text, captions, appropriate file dimensions and so on.
With just a little bit of tinkering behind the scenes, you can help give your content a big SEO boost, making it easier for search spiders to interpret… which will have an impact on your search results and make your site easier to find.
This ties in with the growing interest in visual search, with people increasingly using screenshots, photos and internet images to help them carry out their search queries. Search technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand the content of these pictures, returning a list of relevant results, both image-based and other sources of related content.
For some brands, the benefits of this kind of search are clear. Fashion and interior design retailers, for example, are now able to promote highly relevant products to potential customers in more engaging ways than simply through the use of text… and big names are starting to clue into the fact that they could drive sales their way through visual search, with the likes of ASOS, IKEA, Wayfair and more now developing their own visual search tools.
But for those companies yet to see how they could take advantage, the good news is that multimodal search is also now an option, thanks to AI and technological developments. Here, videos, images and text can all be used collaboratively to deliver highly specific results for would-be shoppers.
4 noteworthy visual search stats
1. Trust is up!
Research from The Intent Lab shows pictures are now coming to the fore as a good way to gain consumer trust… certainly food for thought!
It was found that 36 per cent of people have used visual search, the same rate as voice search, while 59 per cent consider visual information to be more important than textual information.
And overall, visual information is preferable to text for at least 50 per cent of survey participants in all categories except for wine and spirits, household goods and electronics. For clothes and furniture shopping, over 85 per cent of people place more importance on images than text.
2. Gen Z & Millennials paving the way!
ViSenze research shows that Millennials and Generation Z are one of the main driving forces behind this surge in visual search.
Because this demographic uses their mobile devices to carry out transactions more regularly than others, with almost 80 per cent discovering new buying opportunities while on the go, some 62 per cent want visual search capabilities so they can discover and identify products quickly, helping to facilitate the buying process.
Other key takeaways from this study include: 80 per cent say website aesthetics impact purchasing decisions; 70 per cent engage with social media platforms at least five times a day; and 58 per cent say they’re open to interacting with shoppable content both on social platforms and other websites.
3. It’s good business!
Finally, Gartner research shows that brands choosing to redesign their websites so they can support both visual and voice search will increase their online sales revenue by an impressive 30 per cent.
Now’s the time to start looking into how you could leverage this kind of technology to your advantage over the next few weeks and months… and with a new year just around the corner, going for a brand refresh could be just what you need.
Image SEO best practice for business
Giving yourself a little refresher course on how to optimise your images is a good place to begin… and you’ll find that it’s not all that difficult to get the job done.
Relevant alt text
Alt text is the copy you include that describes the image in question. Also known as alt tags or alt descriptions, this text helps the search spiders index websites effectively, helping bump you up the results pages. It can also help improve user experience by describing images to visually impaired readers, which is another increasingly important ranking factor for search.
Making sure that your alt text is relevant and accurate is absolutely key for SEO and user accessibility.
Compress your images
Another really important ranking factor is web page load speed and if your site is really picture-led, it’s essential that you compress your images so that the various pages don’t take forever to load.
Bounce rate is something to bear in mind at all times during web design and development – and if your pages take a long time to load up, your customers will simply click off your site and go elsewhere. As a good rule of thumb, try to compress your images to less than 100 KB… but always make sure you don’t compromise on image quality.
Use your own photos
It can be tempting to rely solely on stock imagery when populating your site with images but bear in mind that lots of other competitor sites will likely be doing the same.
One of the best ways to make sure you stand out from the crowd is to pledge to use your images and your images alone. Original content is treasured by Google and search users alike – and this extends to imagery as much as it does the actual words on your site.
Responsivity means that the layout of your website reacts according to the size of the window and making sure that your images are responsive means that they’ll adjust themselves whether users are on their laptops, desktops or mobile devices. Again, this is vital for SEO as it has a big impact on usability and the user experience.
How to rank in visual search
Now that Google is providing its users with the opportunity to search by image via its Google Lens addition on the homepage, it seems that you’re likely to miss out in the future if you don’t put some plans in place to start ranking in visual search next year and beyond.
We’ve touched on some of the main points you’ll need to consider when optimising your images for search, but it’s important that you don’t neglect the surrounding content on your site at the same time.
Make sure that the copy and other page furniture around your imagery is high quality and that you’ve employed your keyword strategy effectively throughout the site.
High quality and relevant original images can drive engagement on your site, which helps search engines place you more highly above your competitors. Images can also be used to great effect for backlinking and link building… so make sure you use sharing buttons alongside your pictures to help increase engagement online.
If you need any further help or advice relating to visual search – or anything else SEO-related! – get in touch with Manchester SEO agency Ad Rank One today.