In the Age of Pinterest, Google Wants You To Know How To Index Images

First, social media took the art of the conversation and created a way to slice and dice our interactions into 140 character pieces. As social media users have adjusted to this new way of connecting there may be a realization that it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Enter the image. The rumor is that it is worth a thousand words. Video is taking over about of the time spent online. People are busy and, let’s face it, if we can convey an idea with an image and cut out the characters almost completely (aside from trying to SEO the heck out of the opportunity), then why not?

Google is keenly aware of that and a post over at the Webmaster Central blog helps you understand just how to get those images into Google’s index just right so they can be found in searches. Here’s a speck of the information

The images you see in our search results come from publishers of all sizes — bloggers, media outlets, stock photo sites — who have embedded these images in their HTML pages. Google can index image types formatted as BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG and WebP, as well as SVG.

But how does Google know that the images are about coffee and not about tea? When our algorithms index images, they look at the textual content on the page the image was found on to learn more about the image. We also look at the page’s title and its body; we might also learn more from the image’s filename, anchor text that points to it, and its “alt text;” we may use computer vision to learn more about the image and may also use the caption provided in the Image Sitemap if that text also exists on the page.

It’s not lost on Google that the game of search could be splintering in front of them and they need to make sure they have people’s minds with regard to their images in traditional search. The worst thing that could happen for Google is that each of the other social outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc develop robust, functional and complete search functions. Google’s ace in the hole is that reality that this is much easier said than done and they know it but that won’t stop these folks from trying.

The post goes on to cover some Q A around images in the search engine. Some examples would be

Q: Should I really submit an Image Sitemap? What are the benefits?
A: Yes! Image Sitemaps help us learn about your new images and may also help us learn what the images are about.


Q: We sometimes see the original source of an image ranked lower than other sources; why is this?
A: Keep in mind that we use the textual content of a page when determining the context of an image. For example, if the original source is a page from an image gallery that has very little text, it can happen that a page with more textual context is chosen to be shown in search. If you feel you’ve identified very bad search results for a particular query, feel free to use the feedback link below the search results or to share your example in our Webmaster Help Forum.

Images have traditionally been under-optimized in the world of the text intensive search parameters of Google. We may be at the point in time where the market will dictate how Google does business rather than vice versa. Now, there’s a picture for you.