Visual Search: How To Stand Out By Utilising Visual Search Tools

by Figaro Digital

Visual search often takes a backseat to its text-based counterpart, but the potential of visual search engines is one all marketers and digital aficionados should know.

Search engines are getting more intelligent in their evaluation of images, with Google Lens boasting the ability to breakdown and identify key components of simple images. The CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, famously said in 2017 that “the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords,” which may be ambitious, but technological trends in programmes like Google Lens may prove Silbermann true.

How, then, do you master visual search capabilities when it is in a primordial state?

How Big Is Visual Search, Really?

A 2017 report confirmed that 27 per cent of all searches across 10 major platforms were image-based. This figure has risen steadfastly since, with Pinterest continuing its infatuation with visual search by releasing Pinterest Lens in February 2019. The in-app program, which conducts a detailed search for similar products, ideas and images based off a visual search, has racked up an eye-watering 600 million monthly visual searches.

Video, the oft-forgotten cousin to visual search, is estimated to account for more than 80 per cent of all web traffic by 2022 – one thing is for certain: people are visually searching more and you need to be a part of it.

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery

How, then, do you optimise content, SEO and marketing to fall in line with visual search demands? Taking a leaf out of Pinterest’s book, interweaving visual search functionality into an app may be the most straightforward method. Big companies such as ASOS and Amazon have integrated it into their apps with positive results. By adding visual search to an app, you can easily control and tailor the visual search program to specific queries around your business.

Customers want visual content. To capitalise on this, ensure the metadata of your images is watertight with clear, concise language that Google can easily read and recognise combined with your desired keywords. Text is still important from a meta point of view, but it’s not necessarily what customers want to see.

Use Images to Highlight New Trends

Last year, Starbucks was able to identify an Instagram trend – lovingly titled “puppucinos”- by using visual search technology with social listening.

By applying both visual search tech and social listening, Starbucks was able to crawl social media pages for images of its brand before discovering the “puppucinos” trend, which was a clear pattern of dog owners treating their pups to a Starbucks cup filled with whipped cream – aww! Starbucks later used this information in its campaigns, meaning it could have missed out on a trend without the potentials of visual search.

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Visual search can also work to predict future trends. By combining image analysis with machine vision, brands can learn about upcoming images and colour trends. Using this knowledge, brands can proactively react to upcoming trends and changes. Visual search provides new avenues to get customers what they want before they themselves know it.

Improve Brand Visibility

By following a few steps, sites can be set up to adapt to the ever-changing field of visual search:

  • Build an image web search into your web inventory. Currently, roughly 8 per cent of sites have this, so taking some time to pop up the bonnet and get working pays dividends.
  • Build up a gallery of clear, easy to understand images.
  • Ensure keyword-specific metadata falls into best practice guidelines and is easily readable by search engines.
  • Utilise programmes and sites such as Google Lens and Pinterest.

Millennials Are More Interested in Visual Search

Millennials, who officially command the most spending market power, are more interested in visual search. Among Millennials and their Generation Z counterparts, 62 per cent prefer visual-based search.

As these groups command more and more market power, the more visual search will come to the forefront of digital and online marketing. The image recognition market is set to be worth $77.69 billion by 2025, so brands are aware of this.

With this much money jumping around, to not jump on now could leave you in the dust. To keep on top of all the digital marketing trends, be sure to check out Figaro Digital’s array of events.