How can retailers take advantage of the new-look Google Image Search?

Posted on August 14, 2019


Last week, Google gave its Image Search tool a significant revamp, with desktop users now seeing a panel appear on the right of the screen when they preview an image. The search giant explained that this has been done so that the details of the item stay on the screen as the user scrolls through the search results, allowing them to quickly compare one result to another.

Notably, though, the new look is also more geared towards shopping. Google’s blog post admits this, and TechRadar unflatteringly called it “another way to sell you stuff”. For the ordinary internet user, the new interface may indeed seem a little commercialised, but it also opens up more possibilities for retailers to attract traffic and sales through Image Search. In fact, Google might argue that it goes some way to answering the criticism that sites are getting little reward for having their images ranked by Google – a dispute with Getty Images being perhaps the highest-profile example of this.

What does Image Search now look like?

Below is a screenshot of an image search for ‘fish tank’:

As you can see, the details of the selected image appear on the right, including the product name, where it can be bought from (Maidenhead Aquatics) and its price. There’s also a disclaimer from Google that the website should be checked for up-to-date information.

The right-hand panel remains in place as the user scrolls down, until a new image is clicked. If we hover over the panel itself and scroll down, Google shows us a selection of ‘Related images’, some of which can just about be seen in the above picture.

One thing I’ve noticed is that although I’m using the domain, Google isn’t doing a great job of returning UK results. Many of them are in dollars, euros and other world currencies. Hopefully this is a teething problem that Google will rectify.

Can your products take advantage?

Here are two fairly straightforward pieces of advice that anyone can follow, that should make all the difference when it comes to appearing in Google Image Search:

1. Create a new page for each product

To give your products a good chance of ranking, don’t go all Arngren and stuff everything on one page. Give each product a page of its own, with a separate URL.

It’s wise to provide some content to go with it. Around 200 – 300 words is a good amount, and gives you a chance to end it with a call-to-action (e.g. “Buy this amazing fish tank today.”)

2. Name your images accurately

In retail, it’s common to give every item its own a product code. This is useful internally, but bear in mind that nobody is going to be searching for something like ‘JZX0834782’. When uploading images, call the file something that resembles what it depicts. If it’s a yellow men’s T-shirt, call the file that, and it will have much more chance of ranking when someone searches for that term.

Content management systems like WordPress allow you to give images a caption and description. Again, it’s worth taking the time to fill in the details here. Remember that although Image Search is a sophisticated tool, Google’s algorithms for it still rely on text, so help the search bots out a little.

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of image-based search engine optimisation, Google has provided some techy guidance to developers on how to markup products and make them more likely to feature within image searches. Alternatively, if you have products you need to sell and need assistance in matching their images with search terms, the Engage Web team is here to help.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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