The rise of visual search - SEO trend for 2020 | W3 Lab

The rise of visual search – SEO trend for 2020

SEO experts are predicting that visual search will be one of the biggest trends of 2020. This interesting search method is growing every day, and the number of its users and searches is increasing rapidly.

In fact, it’s growing so fast that there are already many visual search engines that platforms have developed, such as Google Lens, Pinterest Lens, Snapchat Camera Search, and eBay Image Search.

What is a visual search?

Before we kick off into statistics and technicalities, let’s look at what visual search actually is.

Just like voice search uses voice, visual search uses images. Now, you may wonder what is the purpose of image search, if we already have both searches where you can type and talk. The answer is pretty simple: it makes our lives easier.

visual search
Visual search makes everything easier. | Source

Before voice search, we could only type. This search method is not only tedious but also cannot always yield good results and most of the time, it’s not convenient to type. Then voice search became a thing and enabled us to search for things while doing other things.

Why is visual search popular?

A picture is worth a thousand words and visual search AIs know almost every single one of them.  

Visual search is here not only to make our lives easier but to also improve search. Imagine if you used a product for a while, and its name rubbed off.

If you wanted to purchase it again, finding its name would be a pain. But using visual search, you could snap a photo of it and the visual search engine will display results similar to it, enabling you to find it easily.   

How used is visual search?

It’s used constantly and it’s not even perfected yet, and if that doesn’t say a whole lot about its popularity, I don’t know what does. Let’s look at the visual search engines and apps and their use.

Google Lens

Out of all the named visual search tools, Google Lens is certainly the most popular and most used one. Developed by Google, the aim of this app is to allow you to search what you see.

It can scan and translate text, scan restaurant menus and search through their Google reviews to tell you about the popular dishes, it can tell you more about landmarks and their hours of operation, it helps you identify plants and animals, and it also does what is the focus of this article: visual search.

google lens
Google Lens

If you’re in public and walking past a boutique window and you see a bag or shirt that you really like, you can take a picture of it and run it through Google Lens. It will display similar articles of clothing, some maybe even cheaper and prettier. You won’t have to open your browser and type ‘black button-up with a flower pattern’ and scroll for hours trying to find anything similar to it.

After Google Lens was released, Google revealed that this visual search app had more than 50 million downloads in just 16 months. Mindblowing, but not surprising; it is a quite useful app.

Pinterest Lens

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t hear someone talking about how useful and great Pinterest is. And they made it even more useful by introducing the Pinterest Lens in 2017.

Pinterest realized how many people use this website for inspiration whenever they’re making something, so they added a visual search option to help them. If you’ve ever used Pinterest a few years back, how many times did you see a product that you wanted to purchase but couldn’t find it?

pinterest lens
Pinterest Lens

Pinterest Lens enables people to find and purchase anything they see on the website and their statistics show that over 85% of users who are looking to purchase clothes or furniture use visual instead of text search.

Additionally, they also revealed that there are more than 600 million visual searches performed every month.

Snapchat Visual Search

In September 2018, Snapchat made an announcement that they teamed up with Amazon, and that they’re rolling out Visual Search.

It works similarly to Google Lens: if you point your camera at a product or barcode and then hold the button on the screen, the visual search engine will try to find it. Once it finishes, an Amazon card with a link to the item will appear, enabling you to follow it and purchase the item.

There are no official stats about its use, but we can only guess that it’s used a lot, since Amazon is the biggest eCommerce company in the world.

amazon visual search - snapchat visual search
What the Snapchat Visual Search looks like. | Source

eBay Image Search

Here’s another eCommerce giant that decided to utilize visual search to improve the shopping experience.

In July 2018, they introduced eBay Visual Search, and today, the AI has learned more than 130 million images. Even though we don’t know how many people use this feature daily, we do know that eBay has more than 177 million active daily buyers.

How to optimize for visual search?

Even if you don’t run a company as large as eBay or Amazon, you can still benefit from visual search. You can optimize your images, so that someone is looking something upon, let’s say Google Lens, your product gets displayed among all the other products.

Here’s what you can do to optimize your images for visual search SEO:

1. Name your images

Before uploading your images to your page, make sure to name them. Don’t leave the filename as untitled.jpeg, instead, take a bit of time to name it appropriately. When crawling your website, search engine bots look at everything, including the titles of images.

2. Add titles

Make sure to add a title attribute, as well. This is what appears when users hover their mouse over an image. Don’t let users see a key smash, instead, write something coherent.

3. Use alt tags

This may be the most important part of image optimization, so it’s good to spend a few minutes working on it.

Add alternative tags to every product image you upload on your website. Make sure they’re detailed and contain the appropriate keywords. No matter if you’re selling furniture or clothes, include the colors and designs in the tags, because this is what people care about.

Also, make sure the descriptions are as coherent as possible, you don’t want to confuse the search engine with incorrect grammar.

choosing the right alt tag
The alt tag for this image would be something similar to: White desk with a desktop computer, a black notebook, a pair of glasses and a mug. You can be as detailed as you want.

4. Include captions

Wherever possible, add captions to your images, because these too contribute to SEO. If you feel like the image is pretty self-explanatory, you don’t have to do it. It depends on taste and context.

Wrapping up

Visual search helps people save up a ton of time and helps them in the process of shopping. It’s been gaining in popularity for the last 2 years, and SEO specialists predict that in 2020, it will be used even more.

To get the most out of visual search so the engines can find your images and display your products when someone is looking for something similar to them, be sure to optimize your images. Name them, add titles, use alternative tags, and captions, where possible.

We wish you good luck with visual search in 2020 and thanks for reading!

Marija Milosavljević
Marija Milosavljević

Graduated as first in her class. Incredibly quiet and shy until the lag in Warframe turns her into a raging death-bunny.