Search is evolving right before our eyes. Up until now, web searches have been almost entirely text-based, which meant marketers and business owners had to optimize the words on their websites to improve their search rankings. But now, there’s a new way for users to find what they’re looking for: visual search. And real estate agents are well positioned to capitalize on the increasing popularity and sophistication of visual search.
What is visual search?
Once upon a time, users could only search using text-based queries. Now, thanks to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, users can search using an image from their phone cameras. Thus, visual search attempts to mimic the functioning of the human brain by identifying images that are similar, identical or somehow relevant to a searched image.
This is a difficult task for a computer. We all have biases and varying visual cues and priorities, so how do we tell a computer to be genuinely neutral? Recent advancements show that there is a way to make this work that (almost) matches the way our brains visually search the world.
What do visual search tools offer?
Currently, Pinterest Lens leads the way as the go-to visual search engine. Launched in early 2017, Pinterest Lens uses machine vision to detect objects in the real world and suggest related items through Pinterest, especially in the realm of shopping, cooking and design.
Users are finding is so useful, in fact, that there are 600 million visual searches on Pinterest Lens every month.
Google Lens, on the other hand, operates as more of a search engine. Its artificial intelligence — which has been improved from its Google Goggles work from a few years ago — can analyze the visual data of an image and serve up relevant information, such as a landmark or a product.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft has also introduced visual search capabilities for its search engine, Bing.
About three-fourths of U.S. internet users regularly search for visual content before making a purchase.
4 tips for using visual search
With the average online attention span shortening, visuals offer a quick way to communicate your offerings — whether it’s a video tour of a property, an image of a master bathroom or an infographic on the history of a neighborhood. Here’s how you can give yourself an edge over your competitors using visual search:
Optimize your images
Make your images stand out
Have a Pinterest strategy
1. Optimize your images
It’s important to practice traditional optimization techniques for your images, just as you would with your website’s words. Give your images descriptive names, such as “mainstreettownhouse.jpg,” and include relevant keywords that will help search engines find the image that’s relevant. Always use alt text, which describes the image and includes appropriate keywords, for each photo.
2. Make your images stand out
Computer algorithms are confused by clutter, low lighting and poor focus. Ensure that all of the photos you use are as clear and high quality as possible.
3. Have a Pinterest strategy
Google is putting a lot of time and money into visual search and might offer more sophisticated and widespread technology down the line.
A smart Pinterest strategy will help put your visual search game ahead of your competitors. Use detail-rich captions, high-quality images and appropriate keywords, and keep your Pinterest boards updated. This will increase your chances of potential customers finding you through Pinterest Lens.
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4. Investigate maps
Clear, informative maps are a useful visual to offer potential clients. Try using a map creation tool that allows you to show off an area’s best coffee shops or the proximity of local schools.
With the proper keywords, tags and captions, these maps can help improve your search rankings.
Complement your SEO strategy with visual search
A visual search strategy might seem like a daunting addition to your marketing efforts, especially if you already put a lot of time into search engine optimization (SEO). But it’s not a question of picking one over the other. Rather, both should be a core part of your marketing strategy.
Real estate is the perfect industry for pairing visual search with SEO, because people love looking at property images. By implementing a compelling visual strategy, you give potential clients multiple ways to find your listings and gain a considerable edge over your competitors in the process.