Visual search is the newest search method which perfectly suits the needs of the modern online world. A world in which we don’t know what we’re looking for and where virtual assistants and machine learning are more frequently used. When we think about it, visual search being the next step isn’t actually that hard to believe. But what does visual search actually mean and how does it affect your organisation? Let’s take a look in the world of visual search.
Visual search is searching for more information using images. This can be any kind of image, from real life photos up to screenshots. Already 600 million monthly searches in Pinterest are visual searches! Visuals search is mainly used when you’re not really sure what you’re looking for or when you think ‘I’ll know it, when I see it!’. This makes the intention of the search a whole lot different than the other search methods who aren’t that new anymore or who are just like visual search in the rise!
Since the beginning of simplest way of searching called text search, more and more different search methods were introduced. Visual search is part of sensory search, which contains text, voice and visual search. However, the new methods like visual search, still can’t replace the old ones. This is because every search method is used in another way and serves another purpose, like you can read about below:
It all started with typing a few words into a search field, also known as text search. This is what makes text search the oldest and most popular way of searching. Not particularly strange when you think of all the people using this method everyday, besides the existence of new methods. Text search is used for every purpose. However, it isn’t the fastest and in some situations the easiest method to use. For these purposes or goals some new search methods are invented, like voice and visual search.
Image search and visual search are sometimes mistakenly mixed up. Image search already exists for years and only consists of searching for an image by using text. While the new and improved visual search lets you find something by using every kind of image and shows you information in text or visuals. Image search is used when you know what you’re looking for.
Not only visual search is in the rise, voice search is also making its entry. Already 20% of all searches worldwide is by using voice search!2 Voice search can be used for searching things or as some sort of virtual assistant that maps out your route, ads groceries to your shopping lists or helps you in any other virtual way.
With this in mind, voice search is used somewhat like text search, but because the intention of the question is known, it is a lot faster and easier. Besides that, voice search is used for finding things locally. Want to know more about voice search? Read our article we wrote about earlier.
Although visual search already exists for a while now, machine learning causes it to make a huge rise. It all started with Pinterest. Pinterest is a visual platform used to find inspiration and to create boards, like moodboards.
Because you only use Pinterest for searching images and the main focus is for finding inspiration, visual search was a logical step for Pinterest. Pinterest came out with Pinterest Lens, a visual search tool used for finding out where to buy an item using just an image.
Ever since Pinterest first started, visual search has grown a lot. That’s why you can use visual search for many other things than just searching, nowadays. You can translate texts, it recognizes logos, icons and celebrities and you only have to point your camera to a business card and it’ll automatically add the contact details into your phone. Besides this, you can use visual search to get more information about important statues and buildings or reviews about a book.
Social media is starting to get the hang of it too. More and more social media use the camera to help their users with shopping. Instagram and Snapchat can send their users to an item in Amazon, by only using the camera in the apps. Facebook is working on a similar tool for its own Marketplace.
This new search method can also have an impact on your organisation. It’s important to understand that every organisation is different and your target group finds your organisation in a different way than others. That’s why you need to take a look at the behaviour your target group and website visitors. Do they find your website using Google Images, then it is vital to take a good look to the images shown on your website.
You already are more visible for your target group by only using relevant and qualitative images. Besides this, it’s important to check this checklist:
Use alt-texts that clearly describe the image
Use your own original images, instead of stock photos
Place the images close to relevant texts, so the image is used as a addition to the text
Use clear filenames (not 123456.JPG)
Make the file size small, so loading doesn’t take too long
For eCommerce companies it is important to not only sell their products in their own webshop, but to look at the opportunities Amazon and Facebook Marketplace offer you. Because several social media redirect their users to these big corporations, this creates chances for smaller and less famous webshops.
More and more organisation implement visual search into their company to help their users searching items of clothing, to recognize and watch out for animals in national parks or as a translator.
But visual search could be used for scanning food or a menu and offer a recipe or a list of ingredients showing allergy information too. Or give more information about a concert or festival after scanning a logo/sticker or poster. There are plenty of ideas for using visual search. How are you going to implement visual search into your organisation?