SaaS Marketing

Are Images the New Keywords in the World of AI?

Aug 22, 2023
5 mins read
Are Images the New Keywords in the World of AI?

Images are a fundamental part of human neurology – according to an MIT study, 90% of the information transmitted to the human brain is visual. This is why optimization of your website to rank for visual search is very crucial.

Visual search has been around for more than a decade. Yet, it’s one of the least talked about subjects regarding SEO. With the rise of AI tools and considering the enormous amount of data it’s been trained on, it might be a terrible time to ignore visual search.

62% of millennials prefer visual search over other search-related technology. As of 2023, the millennial age range is 27-42. So your target audience is using visual search, no matter what you’re selling – whether it’s a B2B SaaS tool or oxidized jewelry on your e-commerce store.

What is Visual Search?

For a long time in the history of search engines, you could only type your query to get the search results. Then came the voice search. And after that, we got a visual search where your input is in the form of an image, and so were your results, which could lead you to different web pages on the internet with similar images.

For instance, when you take a photograph of an object using Google Lens, its AI starts to find images that look similar to the one you took. This image can also be the screenshot of the handbag you saw on your colleague’s Instagram instead of a real-life picture you took of something. 

Talking about Google Lens reminds me of some insights that made me take it more seriously. Here are a few of them:

  1. Google Lens could detect over 1 billion objects in 2018. TechSpot
  2. In 2022, Sundar Pichai announced in Google I/O that Google Lens is used over 8 billion times monthly. Google (2022)
  3. That number was 3 billion in 2021 – a whopping 168% increase in search queries.

Best Practices: Optimize Your Images to Rank for Visual Search Results

Image sitemap

Search engine crawlers cannot always discover all the content you have on your website. This is why sitemaps are essential. Image sitemaps have. To provide Google with information regarding images on the website, the site owner must add relevant details to the standard Sitemap. This includes the type of image, subject matter, caption, title, geographic location, and license.

Sitemaps are essential if you have images loaded via Javascript. Having an image sitemap can be beneficial in helping Google to recognize, crawl, and index your images effectively.

Use structured data

It’s always a good practice to provide search engines with as much information as possible while adding content to your website. A very effective way to do that is through structured data for images. Apart from helping your images rank higher in the image search results, it can also boost you to rank in rich snippets.

I highly recommend you read about Google’s guidelines for general structured data and the type of structured markup you can add on the official schema.org image page. This is easily the most important advice when it comes to the optimization of your website for visual search.

Add Alt text

Alt texts are like the ID cards of images. Search engine crawlers can’t see, so they often refer to alt texts to understand what an image is about. Also known as ‘alt tags’ and ‘alt descriptions,’ they help search engines understand the context and meaning of an image.

For instance, if you add an image of a brown and orange hemp t-shirt, your alt tag could be: “brown and orange color-blocked t-shirt made with 100% pure hemp.” 

You should also add one or two primary keywords you are targeting in your alt text.

Alt texts were initially introduced to assist visually impaired people in filling informational gaps created by images. You can even get sued for not using them – ask Dominoes and Target if you don’t believe me.

Descriptive file names

When uploading images to your website, make sure to rename them. Use a name that describes what the image is about rather than leaving it with a generic name. 

By default, files are usually named something like ‘IMG_14387’. Using the hemp t-shirt example, renaming it as an ‘orange-brown-hemp-tshirt’ is always better.

Appropriate file size

It’s always best to use high-quality images for your images. But high quality also means a bigger file size, hence a higher load time for your images and web page. However, if you decrease the size too much, you might compromise quality. 

You must find the right balance of high-resolution and low file sizes for your images. From my experience, images ranging from 150KB to 500KB are alright. Just make sure your image doesn’t look pixelated in the published blog.

The following are great tools for loss-less compression of your images:

Also, make sure to use the correct formats for your images, like JPEG, PNG, SVG, GIF, etc.

What does the future hold?

In an era where Google and similar platforms relentlessly expand the limits of search’s definition and potential, it becomes crucial for both website proprietors and marketers to strategize for the forthcoming evolution of search. Currently, this evolution is enshrouded in the realm of sensory search, encompassing various manifestations.

As augmented reality and comparable technologies swiftly infiltrate the mainstream landscape, we must remember that the upcoming generation of internet users will not merely desire interaction with websites providing such functionalities; they will demand them as an inherent expectation. The future of marketing expects that you take optimization for visual search seriously.

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