With ‘Style Ideas,’ Google Attempts To Retake Image Search

The role of image search is primarily aimed at e-commerce sites, but Google Style Ideas, along with Pinterest Discovery, Snapchat, and Instagram can generate store traffic.

Google’s rollout of a “style ideas” feature within its Android app and mobile web Image Search covers an unchecked box for the company that has otherwise been filled lately by Pinterest and other photo-sharing platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

While it largely seems to provide a solution for greater mobile e-commerce use cases, the new feature, like the others mentioned above, could help retailers better manage their SEO strategy.

As Google has sought to add more features designed to help it and its local marketing partners capitalize on the idea of “micro-moments,” location-based inventory ads, and the increased time spent with mobile in general, retailers’ ability to keep up remains a challenge.

“Online retailers are facing tougher evolutionary changes in Google these days,” notes Jim Christian, CEO of BLUSH Digital, a boutique agency focused on helping enterprise-level companies with SEO. “Google’s recent changes to local product based searches make it virtually impossible for online retailers to show up ‘above the fold.’

“This holy grail is now consumed by paid ads, shopping carousel, and map results,” Christian adds. “This is causing a massive shift in the way online retailers advertise and compete in the SEO world. Those retailers that are able to adapt quickly and slip into the #1 organic position will garner a majority of the SEO market share.”

Images And Inspiration

Google’s Image Search is so expansive, it’s often hard to find right right starting point, particularly when it comes to specific fashion shopping ideas, Julia Enthoven, an associate product manager at Google, acknowledges in a blog post.

“Now while perusing fashion product images, Image Search will surface a grid of inspirational lifestyle images and outfits that showcase how the product can be worn in real life,” Enthoven writes. “With style ideas, you can see real-life options of what bag and jeans look stellar with those red high heels you’ve been eyeing. Or if running gear is more your speed, no sweat—workout ensemble ideas are just a tap away.”

With that aspect of style ideas aimed at making consumers’ search experience a bit easier, Google is also offering a way for retailers to take advantage of the additional assistance by offering an expanded carousel for “similar items” while searching for apparel products.

“That means whether you’re researching shorts and sneakers or checking out sunglasses and handbags, you’ll be able to find product offerings that may suit your tastes,”Enthoven suggests. “Uncovering a bargain option without sacrificing style is now accessible right from Image Search.”

While Instagram and Snapchat continue to form their own responses to connecting brands and consumers, Google’s enhanced Image Search picks up from the launch of Pinterest’s discovery tool in February.

Dubbed Pinterest Lens, “it lets you use the camera in your Pinterest app to discover ideas inspired by objects you see out in the real world,” the company says Evan Sharp, co-founder and head of product at Pinterest, said at the time.

Google and retailers can take notice of what Pinterest has already achieved in making the connection between smarter search capabilities and brick-and-mortar commerce: As GeoMarketing’s Lauryn Chamberlain reported last year, citing an Oracle Data Cloud’s study, Promoted Pins drive 5x more incremental in-store sales per impression — meaning that brands with a visible presence on Pinterest are remembered at the moment of purchase.

As Google and other rivals like Amazon and Apple, makes their respective search functions more “anticipatory” via both voice-activation as well as through visuals, consumers will increasingly expect other platforms to follow suit.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.