How to optimize your images for visual search

If you aren’t optimizing your images for visual search, you’re probably missing out on both traffic and sales. Especially if you’re in the e-commerce business. In this article, I will therefore tell you more about what visual search is, why it is important and how you can optimize your images for it.

First off - what is visual search?

Visual search is a technology that lets users do searches with images instead of words. For example, a user could upload an image of something he or she would want to buy to a visual search engine and then be presented with similar products available to purchase.

If you’re using the visual search engine Google Images, the process could look like this:

Visual Search

Interesting, right? However, after the introduction of Google Lens in 2017, visual search became even more interesting. Thanks to this new technology you could now search what you see with the help of your camera. I’m going to let Google take care of the explanation here:

Since then, Google has also introduced this visual search technology to Images. Something that I will tell you more about later in this article.

As of today, one could use Google Lens in order to:

  • Translate text in real life.
  • Get inspired by clothes, furniture, and home decor.
  • Look up dishes and see what’s popular, right on the menu, with photos and reviews from Google Maps.
  • Learn more about popular landmarks. See ratings, hours of operation, historical facts and more.
  • Find out what plant is in your friend's apartment, or what kind of dog you saw in the park.

Why is visual search important?

New and improving visual search technologies like Google Lens are changing user’s search behavior. Something that in turn creates new opportunities for companies that want to increase both traffic and sales. Which is what we all want, right?

Let me show you a real-life example of how a business could leverage from visual search when a user is looking to get inspired by furniture and home decor:

A girl named Lisa is going to renovate her living room. Because of this, she is doing an image search on Google to find inspiration. After a while she sees an image that catches her eye:

Visual Search

Lisa really likes that marble table. In fact, she would probably want to buy it if she only knew where to. By clicking the Google Lens icon in the right-hand corner:

Visual Search

Lisa could now mark the table and then be presented with many places that provides similar tables:

Visual Search

5 ways to optimize your images for visual search

Now that you’re familiar with what visual search is and why it’s important, I thought that I’d show you five ways that you could optimize your images for it:

#1 – Make sure to use high-res images

When optimizing for visual search, you want to make sure that you only use photos with high-resolution. This will namely ensure that Google can process your images and match them with user’s queries.

However, the usage of high-resolution images is also important to make sure that your site look professional and appealing to users.

#2 – Offer several images (especially for products)

Another important thing when you’re optimizing for visual search, is to offer several images of your product(s). Preferably from different angles. This will namely make sure that Google can process your goods and match them with user’s queries, no matter which angle they view your product(s).

#3 – Add alternative text to your images

When optimizing for visual search, you want to make sure that you always add alternative text to your images. This will namely help search engines to better understand the context of your images and thereby process and rank them correctly.

#4 – Make sure to compress your images

As you probably know, high-resolution images tend to slow down your site. In order to prevent this from happening, you should always make sure to compress your images with tools like TinyJPG.

#5 – Add an image sitemap to your website

Another important thing when you’re optimizing for visual search, is to add an image sitemap to your website. This will namely facilitate indexing and make sure that Google actually find your images.

Conclusion

Visual search is on the rise. Over the coming years, I think that it will drastically change user’s search behavior. If you don’t want to miss out on both traffic and sales during this time, I recommend that you use the tips in this article to start optimizing your images for visual search!