Since the inception of the internet, search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved exponentially to keep up with the ever-changing algorithms that search engines such as Google, implement to best help its users find relevant information.

In recent months, the newest trend that has the figureheads in the SEO world talking is voice search. The usage of tools like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana that requires a change in keyword strategy and the format in which you answer questions that consumers might have. There’s quite a bit out there about optimizing for voice search, but there seems to be a lack of focus on another type of search that is becoming just as prominent–visual search.

Advancements in technology have allowed users to simply take a picture of something they see while out and about, and Google will translate the information it sees and retrieve web pages for them related to that image. Apps like Google Lens, have taken full advantage of this, providing capabilities such as snapping a picture of a business card and having the information saved to your contacts. In 2018, visual searches happened about one billion times per month, which is a small fraction of the total searches, but it’s growing.

I Sell Cars. Why Does This Matter To Me?

Google isn’t the only one hopping on the visual search bandwagon. App developers have brought it to the car shopping arena with CarStory Vision, the first dedicated automotive visual search app. It allows consumers to take pictures of a car wherever they see one, and it will suggest both the best deals for that car near you and cars that are similar to the one they snapped a picture of.

With more similar apps sure to follow, dealers need to make sure their website is optimized for visual search just as much as it is for text and voice search.

What Can I Do To Get Ready For It?

It’s been no secret for a while that targeted keywords and meaningful content are the means by which you can rank higher on Google SERPs. It’s no different when optimizing for visual search. Images of vehicles on your website should be clear and well-shot, and the alt tags, which Google uses to crawl pictures it can’t read, should be keyword-rich and relevant to the image. This includes naming the files something relevant. Something like 2019ToyotaCamry.jpg is more helpful to Google than image3.jpg.

The visual search trend also means dealers should be focused more intensely on optimizing for mobile than ever before, given that 100% of visual searches come from cell phones with cameras. This means compressed images for faster load times and ensuring that your images are visible on mobile–a page that isn’t optimized for mobile may as well be nonexistent.

Placement is also key on a web page. If your pictures are close to content that is talking about the subject of the image, Google is more likely to reward that with a higher ranking–for instance, if you’re talking about the Ford F-150’s interior features, be sure to place an image of the feature in question right above or below text describing it.

All of this, as with everything in SEO, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimizing for new digital trends. There’s plenty you can’t control when it comes to organically driving traffic to your website through visual search, but when it comes to what you can control, make sure you’re ready for your close-up.

Ryan Cassirer

Ryan is a sports junkie, craft beer enthusiast, and proud New Jerseyan who is blessed to be the Public Relations Coordinator and SEO Specialist for PCG Digital. When he's not busy branding or navigating Google, you can find him on the closest beach or in front of the closest TV watching the Giants, Yankees, or Devils.