July 12, 2018

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Words? The Future of Visual Search

When it comes to internet search, the advent of voice search (think Amazon’s Alexa) has been a real game changer. But now there is something on the horizon that may be even cooler. Get ready for Visual Search.

What Is Visual Search?

Put simply, visual search enables web searchers to find what they are looking for by uploading images, instead of typing search phrases on a keyboard. Visual search is not really new. In fact, it goes back nearly 10 years, but it’s now evolving more into the mainstream of internet searching. The technology for visual search relies upon recognition software (think of how Facebook tags you when it sees your face), machine learning and artificial intelligence. Utilizing these elements, the search engine can take an uploaded image of something and return search results, the same way as if you had typed the words into the search bar.  

Ways In Which Visual Search Will Really Be Cool

Here are some ways in which visual search will offer new options in addition to traditional searching methods.    

  • "I Can’t Describe It"  – Visual search will help shoppers purchase items that have aesthetic or physical qualities that are hard to put into words. This includes jewelry, clothing, fashion items, home décor etc.
  • What Is That?  - Things people see and are intrigued by but couldn’t purchase previously because they had no idea what the product’s name was or the manufacturer. The ability to upload a picture could solve that dilemma. 
  • Life On The Go  – The days go by fast and when people are on the go, wouldn’t it be great to just snap a picture on a phone of something they might want to buy?
  • Ease Of Use  – It’s easier to just take a picture of something than type a description of it on a keyboard. Data has proven that the more steps there are for shoppers between the start of a purchase and the cart, the greater the abandon rate. Visual search should help reduce this problem.

What Visual Search Means For Ecommerce

As the technology emerges, businesses who are engaged in ecommerce will want to take advantage of all that visual search has to offer, as it can enable web shoppers to purchase products more easily and have an even more satisfying search experience. Here’s how online retailers can prepare for the brave new world of visual search.

Maximize the accuracy of image titles with relevant keywords

  • Offer as many quality, clear images as possible of each product
  • Create image sitemaps so crawlers will find them
  • Optimize the size of images and file types for maximum utility
  • Have as much pertinent data as possible tied to an image

Searching by text will continue to be the dominant method that people search for products and information on the internet. However just as voice search came roaring onto the scene, so will visual search in the coming years. Online sellers will want to add visual search to their tool kit to help turn their site visitors into buyers.


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