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this is how you optimize for visual search


It is never boring in search land! We have only just started doing voice search or visual search is already coming around! With visual search, 600 million searches are already carried out per month . This is a growth of 140% compared to 2017, for the Pinterest Lens alone. 

This is an app that allows you to find objects online with the camera of your smartphone. Not only Pinterest, but also Snapchat, Bing and Google Lens plunge into this search method. The image recognition market is estimated to be worth a substantial $ 25.65 billion in 2019 .

Visual search is therefore a great opportunity for e-commerce. Is your brand ready to be seen? After reading this article you know how to optimize your website or webshop for visual search using structured data, SEO for images and social media.

Three-quarters use visual content for purchase

Voice search is useful for looking up information (“What is the weather like in Amsterdam?”). But if you want to buy something, you want to see it first. The appearance of a product is more important in a purchasing decision than sound, odor or texture .your wishes?

Consumers appear to be visually dependent online. Three quarters of American internet users regularly or always view visual content before they make a purchase . 

No wonder webshops add images and videos to convince visitors to buy their physical goods. E-commerce in particular can benefit from this search trend. To reach the elusive millennials, visual search is the way to go . No less than 62% of the millennials prefer to search visually .

What is visual search?

You probably know it: you spot something and then look it up online. But what words do you type in order to find something about it in the search results? Sometimes that can be pretty difficult. Traditional textual searches are inefficient to find the right product online, 74% of consumers say . This is a lot easier with visual search.

It works like this: you point the camera of your smartphone at something in the real world and visual search searches for similar items online. Ideal for retailers in fashion, interior and electronics. Try it yourself with Blippar or Google Lens!

Visual search examples

Take action on text / Learn more about the world / Find similar products online.

How do you optimize for visual search?

Okay, visual search is the next big thing in consumer search behavior. Time to roll up your sleeves! To get conversions from visual search, you first have to be findable as a visual search result. Similar images are of course important. Below you will find a number of optimization options so that your product feed is shown in the visual search results, subdivided into three pillars: structured data, SEO optimization for images and social media.

E-commerce in particular can benefit from this search trend.

1. Structured Data: implement schema markup

With structured data you provide more information about the content on a page to Google in a standardized format. This is possible in JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa. The big advantage of JSON-LD is that the structured data can be included in one place in the head of the HTML.

Use the product markup for visual search  . This ensures that product data is included in the structured data. Enter the markup so that textual search results are enriched and the images are highlighted in Google Image Search. The more fields, the better, but at least complete the following fields:

  • Name
  • Image
  • Price
  • Currency
  • Availability.

Here is an example of what the product markup looks like:

product markup schedule

Example: product markup. The site and reviews are fictional and written exclusively for this example.

Do you have other types of pages, such as blogs? Then you need the markup Image Object . Below is a completed example of this markup:

Image Object markup example

Example Image Object markup

2. SEO for images

The rise of visual search has made it even more important to make images on your website as visible as possible. You do this through the following optimizations.

Create a sitemap for images. A sitemap acts as a kind of table of contents and gives the search engine an overview of the images placed. Certainly if you upload images via Javascript , a sitemap for images is not a superfluous luxury. Upload an XML sitemap for images in Search Console to speed up the crawl process. Below an example of an XML sitemap for images. With <loc> you can indicate where the images are on your site.

Example image sitemap

Example image sitemap

Provide several clear photos per product

Please note that the product is in its entirety on the photo. In addition, ensure that the incidence of light is such that colors and shapes are clearly visible. Make it easy for search engines to identify items against a contrasting background. Photos from different angles ensure that your product is recognized from every side.

Optimize the size and file of the images

Ensure a fast loading time of the images. Choose a lossless or lossy compression where you compress the file size, but the quality remains the same. With lossless, the file size is compressed and can be restored to its original state later. With lossy the original data is overwritten with the compressed data. ImageOptim is a handy tool to reduce images as much as possible without reducing the quality.

Make your logo visible

With visual search it is even more important that your brand is recognizable. The logo of your brand is pre-eminently the distinctive detail through which search engines and users distinguish your product from others. You can do this with an icon in a corner of the photo.

Use descriptive alt text for your images

An alt text in the HTML of an image helps search engines understand what is on the photo. This is important because it takes Google a lot of computing power to recognize an image, while that is hardly the case when reading an alt text. Make sure the alt text contains a description of the image, so that Google understands exactly what there is to see. Also make the filename of your image descriptive and complete the other image tags , so that as much information as possible is available.

image tags

Definitions of additional image tags

3. Social Media

Be visible in search engines and apps

With visual search you can be found in search engines such as Google and Bing. But don’t forget social media! Apps such as Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram are widely used to gain and purchase visual inspiration.

You can expect from a business that runs on visuals that Pinterest is a major player in the world of visual search. And they are! The platform is ideal for capturing consumers in the awareness phase of the customer journey. Users look for inspiration in inter alia interior, clothing and food. With the Shop the Look function, users can click on items of clothing and then purchase them online. 

With software from Olapic and Curalate you can optimize for Pinterest . Shop for the Look can now only be advertised in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. For non-English-speaking countries, it is time to wait and see when they launch this option.

A new feature of Snapchat makes it possible to have a product or barcode recognized by visual search. With a pop-up from Amazon you can then view the product and purchase it immediately.

Feed the Beast

Artificial intelligence continues to develop, also in the field of visual search. A typical case of feed the beast : with every visual search performed, the technology becomes smarter and more and more shapes and objects can be recognized. If visual search is standard on every telephone, this way of searching will really change the marketing world.

Don’t stay behind in e-commerce! Expand your search horizon to visual search and make sure that your images for purchasing products are seen. Use structured data and ensure that your brand looks visually appealing. In addition to hardcore SEO, you can also connect with social media. Good luck!

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