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Visual search

What is visual search?

Visual search is the search process based on an image provided by the user. Based on this image, the search engine uses both artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning to return the search results.

In other words, it is the process of finding a content or product using a photograph, instead of using keywords as is more conventional. Without going into too much technical detail, it works similarly to the face recognition that some social networks and photo management applications use.

The result of a visual search will display content that have very similar characteristics to those of the uploaded image (recognizing aspects such as: colors, shapes,  sizes, patterns, etc.).

1. Types of image search

In reality, in our daily lives we use visual search all the time, from looking for the car keys to selecting the cutlery, to selecting the pen we want to use. This is not done digitally, but we are innately accustomed to it.

Focusing on the digital environment, we can distinguish several types of searches related to image search:

  • Keyword or traditional search. The user will search using a keyword or phrase (in text format) and images related to the keyword(s) entered are displayed.
  • Reverse search. The user only uploads an image to the search engine and this is enough for the software to return related images. This option also makes use of the metadata of the images to display the results.
  • Detailed search. In this case, the search engine is able to identify the different elements or objects, which are in the photograph provided by the user, to display similar content. It is the most complex method of the three we saw in this post.

2. Advantages of visual search

Some of the main advantages offered by visual search are:

  • It will increase and facilitate purchases. If customers can see what they are buying, they will take less time to decide, as they will have more information about the product.
  • Improve user experience. Searching for a very specific product by entering keywords can be a tedious process, but uploading an image simplifies the task enormously and this helps to improve the degree of customer satisfaction.
  • Create cross-selling opportunities. In visual search it is very easy to show the user similar products, as well as products related to the one they are looking for. Creating a very clear sales opportunity.
  • It increases conversions. By speeding up the buying process and improving the user experience, this inevitably leads to improved conversions.

3. Visual search tools

Offering visual search has become very interesting for companies. Here are some of the platforms that use this technology in their products:

  • Asos visual search.
  • Bing visual search.
  • eBay image search and find it on eBay.
  • Google images and Lens.
  • Pinterest Lens.