Visual Searches: From Search Engine to Answer Engine

Organic visibility has undergone a profound change in the last few years. Search engines no longer aim to simply present results, but to provide answers in a clear and timely manner. In this context, a new concept has emerged: AEO, or Answer Engine Optimization. This SEO concept involves visual searches, which are becoming increasingly popular with users. Here is an article to understand everything about this new strategy to adopt.

March 21, 2023


Answer Engine Optimization: Starting a New Era?

The Featured Snippet (position 0) or the Knowledge Graph (Google info sheet based on various sources) are examples that illustrate the evolution of search engines towards answer engines. Well beyond the simple result pages, the objective is to provide a direct answer to the user.

Companies must therefore adapt to these new developments in order to maintain their organic visibility: this is called Answer Engine Optimization (AEO).

These trends are enhanced with the popularity of voice and mobile search. Indeed, smart assistants and voice search are almost part of our daily lives: between 2008 and 2016, voice search has increased by 35 times! With this in mind, rethinking the user experience by deploying new SEO strategies is essential.

Visual Search Trend

Not to be confused with image search: visual search is based on image recognition technologies. Basically, the user will use the image of a floral dress on the search engine, rather than typing the keyword “floral dress”. The search page will then display similar images.

Internet users are using this technology increasingly, especially when shopping online. This trend is similar to that of video content: information is obtained more easily, more quickly, without writing or even speaking a word.

On Google, it’s the Google Lens app that enables visual searches. Launched in 2017, it uses AI to provide information from a photo taken by your phone: record contact information, find the name of a place, go shopping… Everything is possible, with a click on the camera.

How to Optimize Your Site for Answer Engines?

Obviously, if users appreciate this type of research, you need to adjust accordingly. By adopting the right structuring and valuation techniques, you will be able to effectively communicate your value proposition.

Here are some tips on how to optimize your images and rank well in answer engines.

Optimizing Images

We’ve already talked about content optimization with Yoast, but it’s also possible to optimize image integration: the file name, image description and alt attributes. Base your image catalog on best practices from Google and Pinterest, for example, in order to optimize it according to their standards.

Informing Search Engines

You certainly know the sitemap for the website, but you can also have a sitemap for images. It is an html file that allows you to list the URLs of the images of your web pages that you would like to have indexed.

Very simply, this file is not different from a standard sitemap, the only difference being that it is specific to your images. Once you have created it, don’t forget to integrate it in the robot.txt file.

Broadcasting Quality Images

When it comes to visual research, images are what will sell products to consumers. From this perspective, investing in quality images that will reflect the quality of the company and the products is essential.

If your images are artist’s work or unique photos, you can post them on social medias: Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook. This way, they will also be indexed in Google Images.

Hosting Images on Your Site or on Pages You Own

By hosting images on your web pages, you will increase the visibility of these pages. However, be careful not to reduce the speed of your site: think of image formats that are optimized for the web.

Answer Engine Optimization: A Real Opportunity for Brands

Visual searches have several advantages for businesses. The first is definitely visibility in search results, with the rise of this type of query.

It is particularly interesting to use AEO when your company offers products that are difficult to verbalize for the consumer. For instance, a plant species whose name is unknown to the Internet user, but about which he would like to obtain information. On the other hand, the fashion industry is also very concerned by these visual searches.

More Holistic Approach with Answer Engines

AEO is not only based on the known SEO techniques. The approach of an optimization for response engines must focus on the whole credibility of a company.

Indeed, a new map of uses and screens is taking shape, moving away from the simple act of content creation. Content becomes a generator of credibility, of brand authority that goes beyond domain authority: it is the global popularity that is taken into account, determined by different elements such as social media, mentions and user reviews.

Integrating Visual Search on your website, why not?

In some cases, depending on your prospects’ and customers’ needs, it may be relevant to improve the user experience by integrating visual search to your website or mobile application.

For example, this option can be interesting for an e-commerce with hundreds or thousands of products. We talked about plants earlier in the article: visual search can increase the conversion rate if you have a store with little known tropical plants.

In fact, AEO helps shorten the path to conversion, since visual search simplifies the UX. And the easier it is for a user to find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to make a purchase!