Google image search results tests new related searches box

Google is testing a new “related searches” box in the mobile version of the Google Image search results page. Robin Rozhon spotted the change and posted a screen shot on Twitter of this new box. I cannot replicate the new user interface, but it does look like others are also seeing this test.

Here is what it looks like:

Google frequently tests new user interfaces, so we are not sure if this new one will stick or fade away over the next couple of weeks.

Google Trends now shows data for YouTube search, Google Shopping, News search & Image search

Google is adding new filters to its trends data, making it possible to see search trends beyond web search. Now, you can find real-time search trends on specific search terms within YouTube, News and Image searches, along with Google Shopping.

“We’re opening up more data to show what people in the world are looking for, as they’re looking for it,” writes Google on its The Keyword blog.

To see trends filtered by the specific search trends, first choose the search term you want to research. For example, if want to see search trends for Rihanna on YouTube, select Rihanna the singer on the Trends search bar.

From there, you can select to see search trends for “Rihanna” on Image search, News search, Google Shopping and YouTube search from the drop-down menu under Web Search.

Within each of the search trend filters, there is data for “Interest over time” and “Interest by region,” as well as a list of “Related topics” and “Related queries.”

Google Image Search adds badges for recipes, videos, products and animated images

Google announced they now will be showing badges on some images within their image search interface on mobile. Adding badges to images helps searchers understand any data behind the image that Google may have.

Google said, “These badges will help you uncover images where next steps or more in-depth information is available — everything from bags to buy, to recipes to try.” The badges currently available include recipes, videos, products, and animated images (GIFs).

Here is an animated GIF of it in action:

These badges are powered off of rich markup schema that you apply to your images on your web pages. To learn more about how to get badges to show up in Google Image search for your website, read the Google Webmaster blog. The Structured data testing tool has already been updated to help you check your images’ markup.

9 SEO tips for better Google Image search results

While a lot of energy is being spent trying to figure out how to take advantage of the anticipated growth in emerging areas like voice search, there is a much easier search medium that seems to be underutilized: image search.

According to Rand Fishkin’s analysis of Jumpshot and Moz data, image search on Google is the second most highly used search platform behind Google.com and it is searched more than the remaining Top 10 web properties combined.

Image searches may be more significant than you think

According to data from Jumpshot and Moz, Google Images accounts for a considerable number of searches, dwarfing those performed on YouTube, Google Maps, Amazon and Facebook combined. Searches in Google Images are made more than 10 times as often as any search on Bing or Yahoo, and they represent more than 40 times the number of searches on Facebook.

Graphic courtesy of Moz.

The above chart doesn’t present a complete picture of search, as it doesn’t include search on other media such as voice search, nor does it cover searches performed within apps. Nevertheless, it makes the point that Google Image search is a huge portion of overall search.

Yet it appears that those who post images often overlook ways to use images to show up in search results or to draw traffic to their sites. A simple test illustrates how much opportunity is lost. Any Google search for IMG_xxxx where the xs represent any number between 1 and 9,999 pulls up on average about 200,000 results. Clicking on the Image tab shows Google’s image search results, which likewise displays countless images labeled with the raw data file name.

The search for IMG_9998 or any other auto-generated name is realistically never performed, yet a massive amount of data is uploaded this way. The image below was a Google Image search result for IMG_9998 and is of a product from a retail store that sells footwear, apparel and accessories from about 100 brands. The image file name could have described the product as casual footwear or promoted the store brand or boosted traffic to its page by users looking for the Fred Perry 1934 Collection. Instead it appears as a result for a query that would never be entered.

Thus, these images that are named by the default raw file name are essentially unlabeled. And file name is just one example of how images are often neglected in optimizing for search.

While Google may analyze the surrounding content and index the image in that context, failing to provide Google with extra data that it can use to determine the image’s relevance to search queries is a lost chance to promote a brand, product, person, event, service or business. And that means fewer clicks and traffic to the website hosting those images.

Images are particularly effective in marketing for retail and consumer goods, as evidenced by Pinterest’s limiting personalized customer support to these two business areas. Likewise, Google’s Product Listing Ad categories focus on retail and consumer goods, and searches of any of these categories in Google Images brings up a carousel of sponsored shopping results above the organic results.

Product Listing Ads (PLA) in Google Image search results

Thus, any images posted by a business related to retail and consumer goods should be especially mindful of optimizing those images for organic search. But there are many other image categories that will benefit from better optimizing. For example, any business that relies on the reputation of individuals should take similar steps. Professional groups such as law firms and medical practices should expect searches of individual lawyers and doctors by name for portraits or profile pictures. Venues and destinations are also topics that consumers want to see images of. And images of finished work product such as construction, fences or interior design are frequently sought by consumers to gauge the quality of a firm’s work.

Since search ranking is often neglected and because there are so many more results presented on image search results pages, Google Images can help a local business or its products and services get found.

Here are some tips to make sure your images are optimized to take advantage of search queries performed in Google Images:

Images that enhance a user’s experience are ranked better by Google

Google values relevance and quality in returning search results and thus, user experience feedback is a strong signal to Google for ranking purposes. Thus, the more popular an image and the more clicks it gets, the higher the ranking. Below are a few tips for providing a good user experience with your images:

    Make sure that your images are of good quality and are appealing. That might seem obvious, but go on LinkedIn and see how many bad profile pictures people post of themselves. A survey by Shotfarm, which distributes product images for manufacturers, found that consumers say product descriptions and images are critical to their decision-making, with the vast majority of consumers saying they are important (30 percent) or very important (63 percent). In other words, consumers extrapolate the quality of an image to that of the product or service. So better pictures boost clicks which will boost ranking of that image.While overly large image file size hurts page load time, reducing the file size does not mean you have to sacrifice quality. There are ways to strip out unnecessary data and many online tools that can help optimize images for your website.  Try JPEGMiniPunyPNG or Kraken.io.While Google doesn’t take the same liberties in cropping images in search results that they do with Google profile pics, it remains important to understand how the image will look in search results. Images that don’t fit the more standard image ratios, such as 16:9 or 4:3, tend to be resized to fit those dimensions. Also, images such as large group pics that lose any valuable detail when reduced to thumbnail size will likely fail to draw attention or clicks.

Image subjects that are too small display poorly in thumbnails

The above screen shot was the search result on Google Images for Dentists in Plano, Texas, and the circled image is an example of a picture that does not help convert clicks. In this case, individual head shots or the team divided into groups by practices, responsibility or other factors would allow for better images that can be optimized for search.

    Stock images are usually easy to identify and often feel fake or insincere. As such, they can hurt the thing that make local businesses most appealing: personalized and quality service that is genuine and built on relationships.

Stock images often lack authenticity that consumers want from local businesses.

The above screen shot was taken of search results in Google Images for “Lawyers in Frisco TX.” The circled image looks like a stock image that I’ve seen a dozen times elsewhere and is certainly not an image that appeals to me or makes me want to hire that firm or lawyer. So I’m unlikely to click on the image, meaning Google images would lower the ranking of that image compared to other more appealing images.

Optimize image data, labels, tags and descriptors for better Google indexing and ranking

Metadata, labels and descriptors are all used by Google for indexing purposes, so they’re  important in identifying for Google what your image is and the context in which it is used. Better indexing means better ranking in search results. Below are the main labels, tags and descriptors that may be customized whenever you upload an image for display on your site and that you should pay attention to for ranking in Google Images.

    Image file name. As illustrated above, file name is the most basic description of your image that is searchable. Make the name count.Alt tags. Alt tags are HTML attributes used to describe your image and are used in place of the image when it doesn’t render or isn’t displayed. For example, the text would be displayed by a screen reader for the visually impaired, when images are disabled in a browser or when the image can’t be decoded. An alt tag is an alternate display of text in place of the image. Here’s a more technical explanation by Yoast on how to use alt tags to identify your images.Captions. Captions are typically the title or description that is displayed with the image.Descriptions. Description is a field that allows for a full explanation of the image and that may provide additional details including links. Descriptions are displayed when an image within a post or on a site is clicked on and opened in a separate window.Contextual information surrounding the image. Google determines relevance of images to search results by the context of everything else around them including text content, other images, image sitemaps, page title and page URL. So optimize them all and keep your page messaging unified and consistent.

In closing, visual images are only becoming more important in engaging and reaching consumers. Some even pin Google’s future on image technology such as Google Lens. It’s clear that images will continue to play a powerful role in helping businesses and their products or services get found.

Yet too many businesses fail to optimize images separately from the article, web page or landing page where they are displayed, and as a result, they lose valuable opportunities to promote their brand, store, product or service in search results. Spend a little more time in SEO for images and unlock the potential returns that so many overlook.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Google image search now shows videos and recipes

Google is now showing both videos and recipe data within the image search results. This is something Google was testing earlier this year and now seems to have deployed it on mobile search.

Aaron Bradley posted on Google+ that this seems to be derived from newly supported schema around your images. Specifically, you can now mark up your video and recipe content so it is accessible in image search.

The revised video schema page on Google added this line:

Your video rich results can also display in image search on mobile devices, providing users with useful information about your video.

Aaron documented how this shows in the search results, and we were able to replicate this ourselves:

To see this yourself, go to Google on your mobile phone, do a search for the keywords shown above, and click to the image results. Then click on some of the images, and you should see the details listed above.

Google mobile image search adds new quick filters

Google Image Search has added a new filter option to the mobile version of image search. Right under the search box, it now gives you quick filter links to filter for the latest images, GIFs, clip art, colors and copyright. You can even drag the bar to the left to show more color filtering options. At the end of the filter options is an option for filtering for “labeled for reuse.”

Here is a screen shot:

After you click the filter — in this case, I clicked red — you get filtered results based on your selection:

Google has not yet announced this new filter option, but it seems it is now rolling out in the mobile image search results.

Google image search adds 'style ideas' after 'similar items' goes live

Google has announced a new feature within Google image search to find “style ideas” based on image searches you do for various articles.

The new feature is very similar to a feature they launched earlier this week, named “similar items,” that shows similar styles and items based on the image you are currently looking at. This is driven off product schema markup, as we discussed earlier this week. Like “similar items,” “style ideas” works in image search on the Google app for Android and mobile web.

Google said:

With style ideas, you can see real-life options of what bag and jeans look stellar with those red high heels you’ve been eyeing. Or if running gear is more your speed, no sweat — workout ensemble ideas are just a tap away.

Here is a GIF of it in action:

Google announces similar items schema for image search on mobile

Google’s image search results on the mobile web and in the Android Search app are now showing “similar items” — i.e., if you’re looking at “lifestyle” images and click on one that you like, Google may show you additional product images from places where you can buy the item(s).

Julia E, product manager on Google Image Search, announced on the Google search blog that you need to use schema.org product metadata on your pages and schema.org/Product markup to make sure your products are eligible for inclusion on these image results. Specifically:

Ensure that the product offerings on your pages have schema.org product markup, including an image reference. Products with name, image, price & currency, and availability meta-data on their host page are eligible for Similar items.Test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that the product markup is formatted correctly.See your images on image search by issuing the query “site:yourdomain.com.” For results with valid product markup, you may see product information appear once you tap on the images from your site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl your website.

Here is a screen shot of the results:

This schema was actually introduced last December, but Google never announced it.

Google says this similar items search feature is available now for “handbags, sunglasses, and shoes and will cover other apparel and home & garden categories in the next few months.”

Google Search Analytics bug drops some image search traffic from reports

Google has posted a note that the Search Analytics report within the Google Search Console might be missing some image search data. This does not mean that you lost any traffic, but rather, the report might show a drop in traffic because of a data bug.

Google said this impacts the Search Analytics report starting on March 24, 2017. Google wrote this only impacts image search, so you might be able to see the drop if you filter the report to show only image search traffic.

Google wrote:

Some data for clicks and impressions in image search is being dropped. This is a logging issue, not a traffic issue. We are investigating and hope to have a fix soon.

Again, this is just a reporting bug and should not have resulted from a real traffic loss.

Here is a screen shot showing the “note” in the chart on March 24:

Google has no estimated time for when this will be resolved.

A few weeks ago, you may have seen an image search traffic loss, but that was due to a design change in how Google image search works in specific countries.

Google rolls out 2013 Image Search design to more countries, webmasters complain of traffic loss

Recently, we’ve noticed complaints from webmasters that their image search traffic from Google has dropped significantly, specifically from countries like Germany, France and other countries outside of the US. The traffic drop is due to Google releasing the 2013 version of the Google Images design to more countries over the past couple of weeks.

When Google made the change in the United States over three years ago, webmasters saw more than a 60 percent drop in traffic from Google Image search. The same thing is happening now in the new countries that Google pushed out this design to recently.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that they have “recently rolled out the updated UI for Image Search to some other countries.”

Google would not tell us which countries specifically, nor would they tell us why they rolled it out over three years after the US rollout.

What we do know is that in 2013, Google sent us this comment when responding to webmaster complaints of traffic loss:

As we’ve noted before, there are no more phantom visits and actual CTR to webmaster pages, i.e. real traffic, is up 25%, so real visits are up. As you know, we doubled the way users can reach the host website.

This is a debated topic: Did your site lose or gain traffic due to the image search change? It depends on how you count that traffic.

Again, if you noticed the drop in Google Image search traffic, it is likely because of this rollout.