An SEO perspective on the latest search developments from Google (Image based search and more...)

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It seems Google have been hard at work developing their Search Engine by adding a number of interesting features that should make the task of finding relevant sites easier than ever before. We thought we would talk about a few of them here as well as mention their relevance to the SEO community.

Google image based search

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, if this is also true for keywords then Google may have made a SEO breakthrough as the popular search engine has now introduced image based search.

Google's image based search allows websites to be found via an image rather than using a traditional text based query. It works by matching the colours in the image with the colours in the images crawled by Google. This is still an area in need of development as not all images actually work when searching in this manner.

To search using images, you will first need the URL, go to http://images.google.com/ and then insert the image that you would like to search for. There are four ways of carrying out an image based search but I find that the most convenient method is to drag and drop the image into the search box.

Google Image Search Box

Image based search can be used to assist link building in many ways, here are a few that you could try:

  • Find existing relevant content – Insert your clients logo into the search field, you now have a list of all the websites which have been talking about your client and have decided to add your clients logo within the article. Since the content is relevant to your client, webmasters won't be as hesitant to add a link to your client's site.
  • Find contact details – Every now and again you will find blog owners who have not provided their contact details within the blog but have included an image of themselves. Use Google image search to find other websites that the blog owner may have added their image to and see if they have also added any contact details on those sites.
  • Use it in conjunction with a text based search – There is nothing to suggest that you can't put both methods to good use by combining a text based search with an image based search.

Google Voice Search

This allows for search queries to be carried out without typing anything into the Search field and has been designed for smartphones since the touchscreen keyboard on many smartphones can be quite cumbersome. Simply speak the device with the voice search feature activated and your search results will automatically appear. From a SEO standpoint, it is a nice addition but I can't see this feature being widely implemented in offices around the country.

Google Instant Pages

Google Instant Pages allow for webpages found through a Google search to load instantly whereas they would normally have taken 3-5 seconds to load. Google Instant Pages has been integrated into the latest version of Google Chrome and it works by cleverly caching the pages within your search results. It even includes an algorithm which can predict the pages that you are likely to click on and will give these sites priority when caching search results. This intelligent way of caching pages before you click on them results in webpages loading much faster than ever before.

What is wrong with text based search?

It is clear that Google has added a number of features which demonstrate just how innovative they are and prove why they have enjoyed so much more success over the other search engines but I find myself asking "what is wrong with the traditional text based search?" The image based search is definitely useful and adds a new dimension to finding relevant websites to get links from, but after playing with it for a while I found that I could achieve more or less the same results with a carefully thought out text based search and I can't see the voice search feature taking off as many will simply feel uncomfortable talking to a computer screen or smartphone.

No doubt Google instant Pages are a useful addition as it will allow for SEO work to be carried out more quickly with minimal time wasted on waiting for pages to load - but is not a ground breaking update as far as SEO is concerned. So if the question is posed as to how useful these new features are at improving the quality of organic search then I would have to answer by saying "not very"!  Am I wrong?