What is Visual Search?

Visual search is a type of search engine that uses photos or images instead of keywords that are normally used in search engines. It carries out a performance called content-based image retrieval involving metadata to gather results through examining the image’s color, shape, texture, and other visual information.

With today’s advancing technology, visual search has started to become an important online tool to help both retailers and customers in boosting ecommerce experience. But first, how does a typical visual search engine work? It is very easy and convenient. Simply snap a picture of anything, or choose an image from your phone’s gallery, then upload it on any visual search engine and in an instant, it will pull up exact, if not, dozens of similar items available online that you can choose from. You will also see suggested links that can help you broaden your search.

Visual search creates a new space for image-driven, inspiration-based, connections.. It can also collapse the purchase journey, allowing someone to go from image to purchase in just a few moments – Clarkboyd, Medium

The Importance of Visual Search

Using an image to start a search is more interactive, easy, and engaging compared to using words which can be time consuming especially when you are uncertain about the words you are using to define the object. Also, this type of search engine helps you to gather more information through image analyser technology that cannot be done with texts and keywords input only. To retailers, I assume you don’t want to bore and lose your customers’ interest just by having them browse an entire extensive product catalog, instead, you want to show right on their screens what they might be looking to buy.

Customers who have an easier time finding the products they are looking for are already one step closer to making a purchase – Shopify

Emergence of Visual Search

The rise of visual search technology creates an exciting opportunity for everyone and most importantly to multichannel retailers. Jumpshot and Moz confirmed in 2017 that this type of search engine would be 27% of all searches across 10 major properties being for images while a survey conducted by Marin Software stated that 21% advertisers believe visual search is the most important trend for their business. Also, there is an estimated increase of 30% digital commerce revenue to those brands redesigning their websites which support visual and voice search according to Gartner. Platforms like Google, Amazon, Bing, Ebay, Snapchat are just some of the companies that incorporated this technology into their brand to develop an innovative, digital marketing place. Pinterest Lens reported the highest growth of 100% year-over-year user accounting to almost 600 million combined visual searches monthly. For retailers, Pinterest plays a vital role because they don’t have to build their own engine as it already serves as a hub where marketers have the opportunity to get engaged with customers before a transaction take place.

Optimizing Images for SEO

To fully optimize your product listing and boost your rank on various search engines, you have to consider the following:
1. Provide organic image visibility for increased customer attention
2. Advertise on Pinterest; Pinterest offers core visual search technology and advanced image recognition
3. Use descriptive keywords and not generic filenames to fetch better results
4. Titles tags must be short and on point
5. High quality image attracts more clients but large files lead to slower load time. Make use of image resizer.
6. Show photos with different angles to obtain plenty of visual data.

Visual Search certainly is a powerful tool to attract customers and increase website visit but regardless of this, it is not going to completely replace text based search engine according to Fuad Ahmed, a web developer.