Lalit Sharma

How to Get the Best Out of Visual Search in 2019

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Visual search is one of the most complicated sectors of the tech industry.

Not just that, currently, it is also one of those sectors which make businesses face the sharpest competition.

And why not?

Tech biggies like Google, Amazon, Pinterest, Bing etc. are all running their fastest to get the most out of visual search.

So, are you acquainted to it?

If no, this article is for you.

And, if your answer is a yes, then I guess you are definitely interested to know more about it.

I understand. And, that’s why I would recommend you to stick to this article to get the most out of visual search in 2019.

Visual Search: Introduction

Search industry is currently at its peak.

And, this hasn’t happened all of a sudden. It has taken decades for this industry to achieve such colossal dimension.

Types of Content

source: Neil Patel

Several advances in natural language processing, personalization and multimedia results have deliberately helped it, reach its position in the tech industry.

Despite all these, it is pretty clear that the complete capability of visual search hasn’t yet been unleashed.

It isn’t about the lack of investment or proper attention. Frankly speaking, it is actually the opposite of it.

Exceptional visual search will necessitate a jumble of high-tech intellect, psychosomatic vision, and neuroscientific expertise.

And this makes visual search, the best sector to work on.

Deeper into Visual Search

We all take part in visual search daily. Every time, when we try to find things from the heap of several other things, our brain performs visual search.

Though it appears to be quite a complicated task when it is about being performed computer.

It isn’t just about finding out the exact outfit that you saw somewhere, that is just the initial part.

Today, photo apps can read texts in images and translate them. Computers can even identify loads of objects, from popular faces to logos, and from product names to even handwriting.

In the sector of fashion and home decor, Amazon, Macy’s, ASOS etc. have been showing the path of visual search to other brands. This is the sector that is utilizing visual search to its fullest, and researches say the same.

A Sparktoro article recently said that Google Images is currently ruling the visual search market with almost 21% search initiations.

If we look at these images, we can easily understand the popularity of visual search in recent years.

us internet users

Even marketers also prefer to visual searches as content compared to other options.

important content for marketers

source: neilpatel.com

In today’s date, people are taking pictures of things not just because they find them beautiful or beautiful enough to save them as memories, but also because they need to remember such stuff.

If taking a picture of a business card can help you save the contact easily to your smartphone’s phone-book, I can’t find any valid reason for people stopping utilizing such technology.

And this mentality is the base of visual search’s enormous growth.

Difference Between Visual Search and Image Search

According to wearefetch,

“Sensory Search is a phrase which covers visual, auditory and emotional elements of search, so how people use images, voice and their emotions to enable them to search, find products or services faster and more efficiently.”

Now you must be wondering about why I mentioned about sensory search.

Well, then let me tell you, sensory search is the mother of visual search.

As you can clearly understand from the image above, sensory search refers to searching things with the help of text, voice and vision.

In the early years, searching things over the internet used to initiate with typing relevant words in a text field. But, today, searches usually kick off via voice or by pointing your smartphone camera at the subject.

Yes, the latter is what we call visual search. And we can’t deny that it has been the best inclusion to the search industry till date.

Giphy

source: giphy

On the other hand, image search is pretty different.

In easy words, image search refers to the practice of looking for images using various search engines.

It is initiated with a typed search prompt followed by a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that comprises several images. You can even filter those images by selecting smart filters present in the menu bar.

google image search

This screenshot perfectly represents image search.

How Visual Search Works

We have been hearing about visual search for a long time but the actual inception of visual search has taken place in the last couple of years.

Enormously powerful smart devices, comparably smart AIs and the interest of consumers have been pushing the growth of visual search.

But ever thought about how it actually works?

Let me tell you.

Visual search is the perfect blend of AI and machine learning.

giphy education

source: giphy

Now you must be wondering how can computers see…

Well, computer vision refers to the technology that lets computers and smartphones see. And, not just that, it makes such machines understand what they see and how to make use of that piece of knowledge.

In short, this tech named computer vision helps machines understand the way humans see the world.

This tech is there for ages but hadn’t been utilized until the groundbreaking discoveries took place. And post that, computer vision has been making improvements like quantum jumps.

Machine learning, on the other hand, provides machines with such inputs that help them making sense of images.

Actually, images are nothing but numbers to a computer. So, it needs context to understand even the least of an image. Machine learning provides them with that context.

Teaching Computers to See

Teaching the machines is something that a few people had ever thought about.

And now is the time when things have really come real.

Yes, today you can teach machines anything using just a few simple training sets.

If you make the machine have enough of it, it can even recognize the slightest changes. And to increase this understanding, Google exercises its knowledge graph with each of its search results.

giphy code learning

source: giphy

This massively helps machines finding the last piece of the puzzle.

Nowadays, even some machines are also created with the ability to understanding text, it is called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capability.

If you want to include computer vision in your computer, you can easily do that just by hiring some third-party vendor.

Even if you want to incorporate visual search in your websites or apps, tech biggies like Google’s Cloud Vision and Visual Search Developer Platform by Bing can provide you with several methods for that as well.

Utilizing Visual Search

After walking this long with me, you might be thinking that visual search is not much of use for site owners who have comparatively smaller websites. Or you might also think, it won’t benefit your SEO much.

But let me make it clear to you.

Bigger businesses worldwide are looking up to this tech and are asking their buyers to use it to simplify their search procedures.

And if you are in e-commerce, visual search is nothing but a lifesaver for you. Visual search is helping e-commerce website owners enormously to uplift their sales on a global basis.

Pinterest has already developed a brand new automated Shop The Look pins utilizing this tech.

In the near future, we can expect visual search merge with AR and even with VR as well. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are some of the most hyped parts of modern technology but unfortunately, the proper use of these two hasn’t yet figured out.

So, can we expect the collaboration of such grave technological weapons to revolutionize tech world?

Though visual search, alone, can be used for various purposes such as helping you discover an unknown city or even helping you find the best shoes matching with your party wear.

Nowadays, visual search can also help people identify various plants and animals. So, this leaves us with a hint that with the unceasing craze of technology among young people, visual search can help to revolutionize the EduTech sector as well.

Best Visual Search Apps

Facebook currently is working on bettering their Marketplace using AI. And, for this purpose, they have even acquired a visual search tech startup named GrokStyle.

With the incessantly increasing number of visual searches, let’s go through the best platforms that have the availability for visual search.

Pinterest Lens

Pinterest is the platform that has actually introduced this tech to the world.

Can you guess the reason?

It’s pretty simple. Pinterest is the platform that allows its users to save pictures building their own in-app pin-boards. Pinterest even lets its users share their pinboards as well so that people can look at them.

It hasn’t been more than 2 years since Pinterest has been working on several technologies like computer vision, Ai and machine learning. This practice helped them develop an app. They named it Lens.

And then came the blast! Shop the Look was the first one-of-its-kind shopping tool that was built utilizing visual search.

Shop the look-pinterest

source: pinterest

Stats tell us that post the introduction of Lens, 2018 became a year for celebrations for Pinterest. To be precise, this renaissance benefited Pinterest with 140% hike in their searches.

Google Lens

Have you ever noticed a small colorful lens icon beside the shutter button in the camera app of your Google-powered phone?

You did, right?

Yes, what you are guessing is absolutely on point. That small icon refers to Google Lens. It ain’t available just in your camera app. If you have a closer look, you’ll also find it in Google Search app and Google Assistant.

google lens

source: Google

Google Lens makes your phone turn into a visual search engine. And yes, it is a real-time thing.

And guess the good news. As announced by Google on 25th Oct 2018, Lens is gonna be available for image searches as well.

Bing Visual Search

Bing has also actively stepped in this arena of visual search in recent days. It allows you to run visual searches using photos taken by your phone camera.

Despite not being a market leader, Bing’s visual search tool is actually very efficient and has helped Bing revive in the last couple of years.

Using this effective tool, if you want to search for something that’s in front of you, you can just focus on that particular subject using your phone camera. And BOOM! There you go.

If you want to explore more of it, you can just visit Bing Visual Search Development Platform.

Visual Search of Amazon

Amazon, out there, has a completely different purpose for implementing visual search so competently. They are using visual searches for making it easier for their customers to find their products online.

Amazon is even working with Instagram and Snapchat to make things go their way.

This means if you have visited a clothing store and you find something which you feel like buying; you can now just take out your phone to take a picture of that stuff through the Amazon app. That’s all. Amazon will automatically show you the relevant products.

BTW, have you heard of Scout?

No, not about soldiers but what I’m talking about actually is a shopping platform of Amazon that is completely AI-powered.

They are even trying to blend their voice search and visual search through their smart home devices, Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Echo Spot.

Amazon has even talked about the insights of visual search implementation in this website of theirs.

So, can you feel the wave of revolution?

Guess, you can!

How Google Blends Its Image Search with Visual Search

After going through all these, you must be thinking that it is the time to bid adieu to the old school image searches. But let me tell you, it isn’t like that at all.

On the contrary, visual search acts like a bonus to the conventional image search.

It means if you already know what you’re in need of you can just refer to image searches. And if you find it somewhere on-the-go and you’re not sure about what it actually is, you can just take a picture of it and later use it via visual search.

Other than that, you’d like to know that Google has been continuously updating its Lens and adding improvements and features with each update.

And now it is like, you just have to tap on an image on your phone screen and wait for Lens to see it.

Also, you are likely to find badges in the Google Lens. They are there to check if the thing you tapped on is a product that you can buy from any store.

Image SEO: IMPORTANT!

Image SEO is gaining importance with every passing minute as the web is turning progressively visual.

And this refers to the fact that you need to add images to your content to make it even more appealing. And that’s why to make them work not just as an eye-candy but also as an ingredient of your inbound marketing, you need to optimize them.

So, to make your images work, you need to add their high-quality version and optimize them properly. Other than that, make sure your images are relevant enough for the purpose.

Here is what Gary Illyes from Google said,

“We simply know that media search is way too ignored for what it’s capable doing for publishers so we’re throwing more engineers at it as well as more outreach.”

Like I said earlier, Google has been updating its algorithms to boost up visual search experiences. The recent update focused on various topics as prioritizing results not just depending on the quality of the content but also the images, authority of the content, how relevant it is, the freshness of the content, location and the context.

You can simply make your images garner traffic on your behalf. For that what you need to do is

  • Use relevant structured data
  • Put alt text
  • Use original images and not the downloaded ones
  • Avoid the low-quality version of your images
  • Maintain relevance with the context
  • Don’t just put them without renaming
  • Try to put captions
  • Maintain a size standard
  • Compress them while uploading

That’s all I can say.

Conclusion

2018 introduced us to a lot of things and to be precise, voice search is one of them, and now the madness for visual search is at its peak.

Can you guess the reason?

Yes, you’re right. Images contain a lot more information than words do.

So, right now what you need to do is riding this wave of revolution. And to do that you need to keep an eye on the things that I have mentioned in here.

Utilize this information and it will definitely help you boost up your business. And if you are still in confusion, feel free to give us a call.

Lalit Sharma

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