Google recently completed their Inside Search event where a number of new products were announced and presented for demonstration. This recap discusses some of the products that may impact the future of SEO.
Search by Image
Perhaps the most exciting and interesting development from Inside Search was the announcement of Search by Image. Users may upload, drag and drop or paste the URL for images that Google will then treat as a search query.
The demonstrator searched Google by uploading an old picture near a beach. Google determined where the picture was taken, and returned the top result of a Wikipedia page on the location, followed by “similar images” of the surrounding area. In another example, the “y u no” guy (an Internet meme) was dropped into the search. Google returned two results about the image, in addition to a few similar images.
How does this impact search engine optimization? Optimizing images to be found by search engines is an often underrated organic SEO tactic. Image search volume is likely to increase due to the new Google features. While the majority of image searches will continue to be informational, an increased number of users may be searching with purchase intent.
Suppose you are an online retailer selling shoes. A buyer goes into a shoe store and takes a picture of the shoe itself in order to find more information. As users become more familiar with Search by Image, this kind of activity will likely become increasingly common.
The prospective buyer may be searching for competitor pricing, reviews or additional information. Depending on a multitude of factors, your product page and/or image may appear, and you increase your chance of a link and/or sale – even if they don’t buy from you until next time.
Businesses can increase their chances of showing up for standard image results and Search by Image through keyword-targeted filenames, alt text and optimizing surrounding text. In addition, having multiple angles of the same product will be more likely to trigger Google’s “similar” image results on Search by Image. In the world of online retail, multiple product views are almost always a good thing, and Google’s new service makes multiple product images a worthwhile goal.
Google Instant Images
Again, image optimization is a rarely discussed method of bringing relevant users to a site. Image visitors can raise your site’s visibility, spread your brand and attract links that may otherwise be impossible to obtain.
Even if a user has typed in two letters, Google will begin showing images. If your images are eye-catching, users may pause queries or stop their search because they have found what they were (or weren’t) looking for. There is only one piece of advice I can offer for taking advantage of Instant Images: investing in quality, attractive images is more important than ever.
Google Voice Search (for Desktop)
The vast majority of Google voice searches in the past have been performed on mobile devices, but, with the announcement of Google Voice search for desktops, that may change. In my experience, people tend to search using very different queries when speaking and typing. With a six-fold increase in speech-assisted queries since May 2010 (according to Google’s presentation), there will likely be slightly fewer broad search queries and a slightly increased volume of “long-tail” keywords to optimize for.
Obsessed With Speed
If Google is “obsessed with speed,” and they have found that faster speeds lead to improved user experience, perhaps we, as website owners, should be obsessed with speed. Specifically, we should be obsessed with the time it takes for a user to find what he or she is looking for. This is good advice for both conversion optimization and organic SEO.
Google has, at several points, mentioned that they are concerned with the user experience of pages within search results, though the method of measuring the user experience and the impact on rankings is still a matter of speculation. Whether user experience is measured directly through user metrics or algorithmically, a bad user experience is increasingly bad for SEO, and a bad experience has always meant fewer natural links. SEOs would be wise to suggest and implement improvements related to page load time, navigation and a better user experience.
What announcement are you most excited about? Do you see any of Google’s other new products having an impact on how we do SEO?