Mobile users spot new Google ‘search by photos’ tool

Posted on October 16, 2019

 

A new Google feature has been noticed by some mobile internet users, emphasising the importance of high-quality and well-optimised images on websites.

The new ‘search by photos’ option appears to have been spotted by blogger Mike Blumenthal, and a Search Engine Land article depicts how the appearance and position of the tool varies from one device to the next. In all cases though, selecting an option takes the user to a Google My Business listing, where it is possible to see further images from the same business or organisation.

As per the Search Engine Land example, I tried it with a search for “tacos near me” on Tuesday morning, and found the ‘search by photos’ option just below the fourth organic result, and also below the ‘people also ask’ feature. It displayed the images in a vertical, portrait format, mirroring the shape of the mobile screen.

Tapping the first of these images took me through to that restaurant’s Google My Business page, and allowed me to scroll through multiple other images of Mexican food and décor at the eatery.

Search Engine Land’s Greg Sterling notes that on testing the function, some less visual sectors like plumbers and lawyers did not bring up this photo tool, and also that it is not yet clear whether this is a mobile-oriented test or something Google intends to introduce to desktop search.

What’s the point in this?

The internet is becoming increasingly visual. Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report observes that over half of tweets now include images, and summarises:

“The more visual our communication platforms become, the better storytelling we as advertisers can do.”

This is particularly the case in the food industry with the trend for sharing images of meals on platforms like Instagram, but all industries can showcase themselves effectively through well-taken photographs. Even for the aforementioned less photogenic sectors like lawyers and plumbers, images of smart workplaces, friendly faces, and any award presentations or special events can give a positive impression of the business.

It also indicates the rise of the vertical image, with Google now sometimes favouring images that fit the dimensions of the mobile screen when naturally held in one hand. This is a better suited orientation than landscape for pictures of tall buildings, and full-body photographs of people.

John Murray

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.

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