How Visual and Voice Search Are Revitalising The Role of SEO

How Visual and Voice Search Are Revitalising The Role of SEO

The component parts of a successful search engine optimization (SEO) strategy may have remained relatively constant, but their definition and purpose have changed entirely. Driven by trends like visual search and voice search, the industry’s scope has expanded and evolved into something more dynamic.

This delivers on a genuine consumer need. According to a report from, 74 percent of shoppers report that text-only search is insufficient for finding the products they want.

It is unsurprising that Gartner research predicts that by 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by as much as 30 percent. Through visual and voice search, marketers can engage more meaningfully with their audience at each stage of their purchase journey. This means moving beyond the static websites of old toward more interactive experiences that can be accessed anywhere, any time, on any device.

Sensory search

Search visibility still matters, but the concept of “rankings” is hard to pin down when we factor in the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the machine learning algorithms that fine-tune the search results.

Brands’ content must be relevant to a query, but those queries are getting more specific and contextual; relevance must be combined with usefulness at the moment.

Underpinning these shifts are two trends that are revitalizing the search industry: visual search and voice search. Though these are linked and can be grouped under the umbrella of “sensory search,” they are separate disciplines with different implications for search marketers.

For those that engage early by implementing technical best practices and adapting SEO strategies, they represent some of the foremost opportunities in digital marketing for the coming years.

Visual search

For many years, Google has provided the ability to upload an image or image URL to generate a search engine result page (SERP) in the search toolbar within Google Images.

The next generation of visual search turns a smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool. It can use an image as a search query, which allows consumers to search for styles and objects that they would otherwise struggle to define. The most popular visual search technologies are Google Lens and Pinterest Lens, but Amazon, Bing and a growing list of major retailers are all investing heavily in this area. Visual search is also a building block for augmented reality and virtual reality interactions.

There is a growing swell of evidence to substantiate the claims this technology is taking off with consumers, too:

According to Grand View Research:

The global image recognition market size was valued at USD 16.0 billion in 2016 and is likely to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 19.2 percent from 2017 to 2025.

This is still a sizeable opportunity for retailers, too, as only 32 percent are either already using artificial intelligence (AI) for visual search or plan to do so within the next year:

Visual search optimization tips

Here are some tips to help you optimize for visual search:

  • Add multiple images to each product or topic page.
  • Optimize the images for the web and swift page load.
  • Consider adding raster images and add message and call to action (CTA) in the photo so it is more compelling when viewed in Google Images or repurposed.
  • Upload image eXtensible markup language (XML) sitemaps and ensure that product inventory is updated across all search engines and retailers.
  • Maintain a logical site hierarchy that is connected through relevant internal links.
  • Make sure your images are hosted on authoritative pages that respond to a specific user intent.
  • Map keyword categories and themes to your images, and then use these queries to optimize image alt tags, titles and captions. Put relevant keywords in the image file name.
  • Develop a unique brand aesthetic across all visual assets. This will help search engines relate your brand to a particular style.
  • If you use a stock image, tailor them to ensure they are not identical to the hundreds of other instances of that exact image. Search engines will find it difficult to understand your image if it is replicated across the web in different contexts.
  • Although visual search reporting is still very limited, keep a close eye on your image search traffic to keep track of any increases in demand.

Voice search

Voice search has had much more publicity than its visual counterpart, fronted by glitzy demonstrations from the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon. In the “age of assistance,” it seems voice will be the preferred mode of access to AI-driven devices. Undoubtedly, some impressive statistics substantiate this claim:

Sixty-five percent of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine going back to the days before they had a smart speaker.

Voice commerce sales reached $1.8 billion in the US last year and are predicted to reach $40 billion by 2022.

Fifty-two percent of voice-activated speaker owners would like to receive information about deals, sales and promotions from brands.

These are still experimental times for voice search, and many brands are trying to ascertain just how much it will affect their industry. As with visual search, reporting is limited at the moment, but there are still plenty of opportunities for innovation. Brands need to think about how they want to sound, rather than just look. Voice search naturally opens up conversations, and it is certainly possible to foresee a future where digital assistants relay messages directly from brands, rather than just reading the text.

A step in this direction is the launch of the Speakable structured data format, now available in beta via Although it’s only available for news at the moment, it will surely open up to other industries after this test period.

Voice search optimization tips

Google’s guidelines point out some important points for any brand that wishes to optimize for voice search:

  • Content indicated by speakable structured data should have concise headlines and/or summaries that provide users with comprehensible and useful information.
  • If you include the top of the story in speakable structured data, we suggest that you rewrite the top of the story to break up information into individual sentences so that it reads more clearly for text to speech (TTS).
  • For optimal audio user experiences, we recommend around 20 to 30 seconds of content per section of speakable structured data, or roughly two to three sentences.

The concept of a ‘“brand voice” looks set to take on a very literal dimension as voice search evolves into something more conversational.

Technical SEO for visual and voice search

If brands can’t predict the variety and volume of demand with precision, they must ensure they are in prime position to attract qualified traffic.

As we move into an era of ambient search, with consumers looking for instant information on the go, it is imperative that content can be served quickly and seamlessly. One technical consideration is that a higher quantity of pre-rendered content needs to be served to the user and to search engines. This is more important than in the past, when a significant amount of processing could occur within the browser.

However, to respond to (and even pre-empt) user queries via voice or image, pre-rendered content should be delivered to search engine user agents. Structured data is often mentioned in relation to visual and voice search, with good reason. The premise of semantic search, which is an essential development for visual and voice search, is built on the idea of entities and structure. By understanding entities and how they are interconnected, a search engine can infer context and intent from search queries.

For visual search, Google’s Clay Bavor summarized the size of the challenge:

In the English language, there’s something like 180,000 words, and we only use 3,000 to 5,000 of them. If you’re trying to do voice recognition, there’s a really small set of things you actually need to be able to recognize. Think about how many objects there are in the world, distinct objects, billions, and they all come in different shapes and sizes.

Brands need to help Googlebot by structuring and labeling their own data so that it can be served instantly for relevant queries.

There are some vital structured data elements that brands should focus on for visual and voice search (if applicable):

  • Price.
  • Availability.
  • Product name.
  • Image.
  • Logos.
  • Social profiles.
  • Breadcrumb navigation.


Visual and voice search are taking hold for a host of intertwined reasons, both psychological and technological. They allow users to find new ideas in more effective and efficient formats. They also intersect with numerous technological trends, including digital assistants, artificial intelligence, and vertical search.

In the case of vertical search, the discovery of content within specific verticals is a natural fit for targeted information retrieval.

One of the prime benefits of both visual and voice search is that they simply create a platform for more effective communication with consumers. As the role of search expands to cover every step on the path to purchase, the number of search-based micro-moments will continue to proliferate. To capitalize, brands need a deep understanding of their consumers, a multimedia content strategy that caters to their audience’s requirements and the technical knowledge to communicate these messages to search engines through text, voice and images.

The future of search lies with voice, visual and vertical optimization. While that may sound disconcertingly nebulous, savvy marketers are defining what this new order means to them and acting to implement their strategies today.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest authors. Staff authors are listed here.

YouTube’s big makeover continues with redesigned mobile app, new logo and more

YouTube’s big makeover continues with redesigned mobile app, new logo and more

Earlier this year, YouTube introduced a major redesign of its desktop website which delivered a cleaner look and new features like a “dark mode” for nighttime watching. Today, YouTube is taking this update out of beta, and making it available to all users. In addition, the company is extending the design and select new features to its mobile app, and is unveiling an updated logo and icon.

This is the biggest change the YouTube logo has received over the years, as earlier improvements were much more minor tweaks, as you can see in the image below.

Google says this new logo – a cleaned up version of the YouTube wordmark and icon – was designed to be more flexible across devices of varying screen sizes. On smaller screens, YouTube can use just the icon alone to abbreviate its logo, while still making it easy to spot. The updated logo and icon are rolling out across desktop and mobile starting today, before arriving on other apps and services, the company notes.

Meanwhile, the desktop redesign introduced in May is now the default instead of an opt-in beta. This upgrade had included rebuilding YouTube on top of the open source JavaScript library Polymer, which will allow Google to more quickly bring new features to market going forward, it had said at the time.

However, for end users, the most noticeable changes were about the way YouTube looked. The upgraded desktop experience leverages Google’s design language, Material Design, which influences things like how the left-side navigation can now be tucked away with a click on the hamburger menu; the size and placement of key elements; and the overall cleaner look-and-feel.

The desktop update also includes a great “dark mode” for nighttime viewing, giving YouTube a more cinematic feel. Unfortunately, this feature is not making its way over to YouTube’s mobile app today, we’re told.

However, the app is getting a number of new features, too.

This includes its own take on the cleaner redesign, where the header is now white and the navigation tabs have been moved to the bottom, making them easier to reach with your thumbs.

The big, red YouTube header was a bit gaudy and not well-received when it first rolled out. The new, white header is a serious improvement.

There are also new Library and Account tabs to make it easier to access the things you’re looking for, says Google.

The app will introduce various playback controls, too, including one that uses gestures.

As you may recall, YouTube earlier this year introduced a way to double tap on the left or right side of a video to rewind or fast forward 10 seconds. In the months ahead, the new mobile app will introduce another gesture – a way to jump between videos with a swipe of your hand. You’ll just swipe left to watch the previous video, or swipe right to watch the next. (This is not live today, but is being pre-announced).

The app will also now include the ability to speed up and slow down the playback of a video, similar to how you can on desktop; and the new player will change its shape to match the video format being viewed. This feature was teased this summer, noting that the rise in vertical video was among the reasons to roll out a more adaptive player.


Another recently launched feature that suggests videos while you’re watching in full-screen mode is included in the update, as well.



The changes to the logo, mobile app, and desktop site will begin rolling out today. YouTube tells us the roll out may not complete until tomorrow, however.

On – 29 Aug, 2017 By Sarah Perez

57% of Search Traffic is Now Mobile, According to Recent Study

57% of Search Traffic is Now Mobile, According to Recent Study

According to a new report from BrightEdge, 57% of search traffic is now coming from smartphones and tablets.

BrightEdge also discovered ranking positions for a vast majority of keywords were different depending on whether the search was conducted on mobile versus desktop. Research indicates 79% of all keywords rank different on desktop compared to mobile, with 47% of those being keywords in positions 1-20.

Site owners may also be missing opportunities when it comes to the visibility of their most important pages. A webpage of a particular website most likely to show up first in search results will be different 35% of the time, BrightEdge found.

”If brands do not track and optimize for both device channels, they are likely to misunderstand the opportunities and threats affecting them

It is recommended that marketers assess the proportion of their traffic coming from mobile and desktop and adjust their strategy accordingly.

In addition to having a fast, mobile-optimized site, this also includes understanding the user intent signals of desktop visitors and mobile visitors.

”Where you find divergent organic rank or content or clickthrough rate, optimize the stronger device proportionally to its traffic contribution share. In other words, understand which device is more important and optimize it first, and best, and the other second.”

For further details and insights, download the full report here.

Google is Testing Infinite Scroll in Mobile Search

Google is Testing Infinite Scroll in Mobile Search

Google has been spotted testing infinite scroll search results pages in mobile search.

For some searches, rather than showing the usual “Next” button at the bottom of search results, there is a “See more results” button.

Clicking on “See more results” loads more results right on the page the user is currently viewing, instead of taking them to a new page.

Google says it regularly conducts numerous tests on a daily basis, so we can only assume infinite scroll mobile search results is nothing more than a test at this time.

We certainly cannot confirm this is something that will be rolled out permanently, but it is interesting nonetheless.

We’d like to thank Charity at Conductor for sending us this information.

Google Introduces Video to Google Maps Listings

Google Introduces Video to Google Maps Listings

Searchers will soon start seeing videos on Google Maps listings, as the company is giving Local Guides the ability to upload video with an Android device.

Videos on Google Maps can be viewed by users on iOS, Android, or desktop – but for the time being they can only be uploaded on Android.

Google offers a few suggestions for using this new feature:

”The possibilities are really exciting: Take viewers on a mini tour of a store you love, or show the bustling scene at your favorite neighborhood restaurant.”

Video reviews showcasing your favorite items are also an option, as well as videos offering general tips for new visitors.

This feature is rolling out gradually to Local Guides on Android. Local Guides are individuals who are committed to contributing to Google maps.

Local Guides earn points for contributing photos, reviews, and information to Maps listings. As they earn points they can level up, which grants access to perks.

If you’re interested in joining the program you can sign up here. Local Guides can start adding video to Google Maps by following these steps:

  • Search and select a place on Google Maps
  • Scroll down and tap “Add a photo”
  • Tap “Camera” and hold the shutter button for up to 10 seconds

Local Guides can also add videos that are already on their device by selecting “Folder” instead of “Camera.” Only the first 30 seconds of a video can be added.