Two big trends in search are coming our way: voice search and visual search. Listen to ecommerce industry leaders and you’ll hear that visual search – taking a picture with a phone and searching for matches as you would with text in Google – is the “next big thing.”
The CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann thinks the future of search will be about pictures rather than keywords, but is he right? Given the fact that his platform is primarily visual, it makes sense he would say that. But there is increasing certainty among marketing pros that a picture’s worth a thousand words. In 2017 a report by Moz and Jumpshot confirmed that visual search is on the rise, with 27 per cent of all searches across major properties being image searches.
So what does this trend mean for marketers and marketing companies in this digital age? The expectations of mobile users are changing, and especially in retail settings, they expect to see multiple high-quality images of the things they're thinking of buying. If your digital sites aren’t loaded with images, now is the time to start thinking about a re-design to incorporate them. It’s not enough to just load your pages with pretty shots, GIFS or video, however. They need to be relevant, and they need to be backstopped with plenty of keywords, so they are prime images that will end up on search engine results pages (SERPs). Retailers must mark up those images properly so that search engines can easily interpret them and serve them up to searchers. That includes the necessary labels (alt tags, file names, title tags and captions), building an image sitemap, using Google schema mark-up for assets like graphs, infographics, videos and GIF files, and choosing the next size and resolution for your users so loading images takes milliseconds on any device they happen to be on.
The time is right to optimize for the image-heavy search result of today and prepare for the visual search behaviour to come. New search techniques aren’t just on the horizon, they’re being used right now, so take a second look at the quality, relevance and search-readiness of the images on your site and optimize them to be ready for what’s to come.