I was looking around in the Google Webmaster Tools the other day and came across Enhanced Image Search in the Diagnotic tab. With all the focus on Universal Search and the new emphasis on optimizing images for search results, I was intrigued to figure out what this was all about. Let me start by saying that I think this tool has its place, but it’s not for everyone.
From the Webmaster Tools interface, you have the option to check a box, press OK and enable enhanced image search. Below is a screenshot of where you can find the Enhanced Image Search option.
By doing this Google will use tools (Google Image Labeler) to associate the images within your site with labels that will improve indexing and search quality of those images. Very important point here – you’re assuming the LABELS created will be quality and therefore improve the search quality. One quick spin through the Google Image Labeler left me doubting that in some instances.
From the Image Labeler intro screen, here is how it works:
You’ll be randomly paired with a partner who’s online and using the feature. Over a two-minute period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see. When your label matches your partner’s label, you’ll earn points depending on how specific your label is. You’ll be shown more images until time runs out. After time expires, you can explore the images you’ve seen and the websites where those images were found. And we’ll show you the points you’ve earned throughout the session.
Okay, hats off to Google for creating a game that people can play that help Google index images better. If you’re given a perfectly understandable and obvious image, you and whoever you’re paired up with could vastly improve the indexing of that image with quality labels. But what happens if you and your partner can’t figure out the image and you both guess incorrectly and give the image the wrong label? Below is an example. Is that a choir? A wedding party? People in church? I have no idea an either did my partner.
The company I work for manufactures data networking hardware and we have products that many people would have no clue how to label – simply because they don’t deal with that sort of hardware. I wouldn’t trust our products to be labeled correctly.
But, if I had a retail site with an obvious, understandable set of product images I think this would be a very useful tool. Especially if it could help my images land on the search engine results page (SERP). With Universal Search, this will become an ever increasing possibility.