Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on April 28th, 2009

The Evolution of Search: Wordless?

I used to hear this cliche’ used all the time: “A Picture is worth a thousand words”. But now even that is in jeopardy. If you are a copywriter, please sit down. Last week Google Labs launched a new product called Similar Images, which allows users to search using other images instead of words. This is a very similar feature to the popular image bookmarking site: Until now, searching for images on Google meant that you typed in a description in a search bar, using words, and Google found images indexed in their database that fit the description.

The Google Similar Images feature still requires the initial worded description, but after you get your query results, they will have a link below them that will find other images that are... similar. The product uses image recognition technology to read the image and match it to others.

Another feature that Google is now using with their image search is Google Image Labeler. It works by pairing you randomly with a partner who’s online. Over a two-minute period, you will view the same set of images, provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see. You receive points when your label matches your partner’s label. The number of points will depend on how specific your label is. You continue to label images until time runs out. After time expires, you can explore the images and their websites. This helps Google improve the relevance of image search for users.

This is just one example of how search is evolving, and that there are many new innovations to come. It also proves that image recognition can be applied accurately and on a large scale when combined with the efforts of search. As search evolves, so will search engine optimization. This is a great industry to be involved in right now, because everyday we get better and more efficient in optimizing our clients’ web presence through traffic and online conversions. For all you copywriters, I wouldn’t worry about your jobs being rendered obsolete any time soon. As long as people can read, we will write.

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