Google’s Vision of the Future of Image Search

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Can Google’s technology automatically analyze what’s inside an image? I mean is it really possible to automatically analyze an image subject then rank it according to the derived description without human intervention? Well for Google’s two scientists who presented a research paper in China last week, it might be possible.

During the International WWW Conference in Beijing, two Google Scientists presented their research paper on “Page Rank for Product Image Search.” The research paper will apparently remove Google’s dependence on the alt text that is associated to an image describing its subject and content. Through VisualRank, an algorithm that blends  image-recognition software methods with techniques for weighting and ranking images that look most similar, Google’s new image search will rank images automatically based on the derived analysis of their subjects and contents.

If the results of the research paper pushed through, we might see the time when humans will no longer be needed to describe images through metadata. Computer will do the content analysis of the image which will then be crawled by Google’s image searching algorithms and applies the same PageRanking technology it used for web pages to rank these images.

Arrington got the full PDF file of the report. Check it out if you want to read further.

Arnold Zafra
Arnold Zafra writes daily on the announcements by Google,, Yahoo & MSN along with how these announcements effect web publishers. He is currently building... Read Full Bio
Arnold Zafra
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  • Steve Dukes

    Very interesting. PIXSTA ( has already made great progress in monetising Image-to-Image search – exciting to see others enter the market.

  • Carl-Johan Hunefalk

    So in the future, SEO professionals may need to acquire graphic design skills? It will be interesting to see the progress of the field, when it comes to even optimizing your images for Google.

  • Dan Graham

    So the idea is that somehow, by more closely being algorithmically related to more images, an image is more relevant? That seems odd, does anyone have a better handle on why that makes sense? If I make an image that not only looks like the white house, but also the taj mahal, my image will be more relevant? It seems to me that being well connected should still play a role.

    And the idea that SEO professionals COULD need to acquire graphic design skills is of course, ridiculous =)

  • Saerch Engine with preview shows image previews of the search results

  • Carl-Johan Hunefalk

    @GoNFind there are lots of preview functions for search engines, from browser plugins to fully graphic search engines like and others. This feature is about indexing the contents of images.

    @Dan_Graham of course it’s a ridiculous idea that you will need to add graphic designers to your staff if you’re an SEO consultant – but I wouldn’t dismiss it because of that. Lots of people will probably try lots of ways to optimize their images for Google, so regardless how ridiculous it sounds, it may happen.

  • Myron Rosmarin

    The idea sounds fine in theory but it will be a major breakthrough if it works. The idea has been discussed for years. It’s a really hard problem to solve. As the person responsible for SEO at my site, if one of our content publishers were to post an image on the site, would we really trust an image recognition algorithm to find the picture? Rhetorical question. Of course not. As long as the world continues to search with simple text queries, feeding the search engines text will reign supreme.