The challenge of visual search for your organic positioning strategy

June 28, 2022 - 4  min reading time - by Regina Miriam Ela Ayacaba
Home > Technical SEO > The challenge of visual search

In digital marketing, there’s no chair that lasts 100 years and, if we’re talking about SEO, it’s like playing Russian roulette with more than one bullet that appears and disappears at the mercy of the algorithm god.

In the SEO universe, first, text search reigned supreme, then came voice search and now visual search has arrived to offer brand websites, especially e-commerce, a great opportunity to boost sales through Google Lens technology.

What is Google Lens and how does it work?

Google Lens is a visual recognition search tool that works with artificial intelligence. The aim of this technology is to allow the Google search engine to recognize and, more importantly, understand the image we show it and, through it, offer the information that best responds to our query.

Thus, if we photograph a pair of red trainers, Google will be able to identify the characteristics of this object and offer us results within the same range of colors and models.

This search trend, already initiated through the “famous” Google Glass, which passed through our lives with more pain than glory, is materialized in a less invasive and more intuitive app for the user. Google Lens offers different options, among which the following stand out:

  • Real-time text translator
  • Information queries using images that you can take or upload directly from your mobile
  • A “Shopping” module that, by capturing an image, offers results that take you directly to Google Shopping
  • A “Food” option that allows the camera to recognize food, dishes and even restaurant menus both by image and text
  • A “Homework” mode that recognizes questions and offers search results that answer them

The tool is not yet fully accurate and the best results are for text recognition, but it is a change of scenery that, as it evolves, will become more relevant than voice and text queries.

How the image search trend affects SEO

Until recently, image optimization for SEO has been limited to the Alt text attribute of the image. However, the transition to visual search presents a great opportunity for traffic improvement, but sets the challenge of giving images a more relevant role in SEO strategy.

Advantages of visual search in brands’ SEO strategies

According to Google, currently more than a billion of the queries that users make are made through Google Images and of the results that Google returns from the queries, more than a third are images. This data highlights the value of visual search in organic positioning:

  • Improved traffic: Optimizing images within SEO provides the website with an important source of traffic, by allowing keywords to be positioned through elements such as the Alt text or the file name.
  • Semantic value: In addition, the general optimization of visual elements reinforces the entire website in a semantic way, which makes it easier for Google to understand the content, generating a positive impact on the site’s ranking.
  • Accessibility: Screen readers used by disabled or visually impaired users read this alternative text, which has a great impact on the understanding of the content by these users.

The challenges of Google Lens for organic traffic

While it is true that visual search offers great possibilities for improving organic positioning, the ultimate goal of this technology is to offer, in the fewest number of queries, complete information that meets users’ needs.

What does this mean? As it evolves, Google Lens aims to return more accurate search results and not a list of indexed pages to browse through until we find the information we are looking for.

This will undoubtedly pose a challenge for search engine optimization, as it will include a greater focus on optimization and a greater emphasis on users’ search intent.

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How to optimize images for Google Lens

The first step to get the most out of visual search is to stop considering the images on your website as a mere ornamental element and treat them as another source of information that accompanies the content of your website. In addition to this, you must take into account:

  • Alt text and image name: The Google Images system is still based on this information to understand the content of the image, so a descriptive text and containing keywords is crucial when it comes to boosting this positioning. When renaming these elements, avoid falling into the easy practice of including a massive and incoherent list of keywords. These practices fall into what is known as black hat SEO and can penalize the positioning of your website.
  • Your logo always present: This is especially relevant in local SEO, as it will allow the differentiation of the products of your business.
  • EXIF elements: These elements help the Google engine to understand the image. They include information about the date, time and place where the image was taken, its author, the camera model… These elements can be edited with tools such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP and allow us to insert keywords that can help us when positioning our images.

The future is undoubtedly visual and being able to position the results of your website will require more and more specialization, which will undoubtedly end up influencing organic traffic.

Regina Miriam Ela Ayacaba See all their articles
Regina has a degree in journalism although her career has developed in the digital marketing sector. During her professional career she has specialized mainly in the SEO area where she continues to work and grow professionally. Regina is actually part of the SEO Department in Making Science where she works as an SEO Consultant.
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