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Image search: am I doing it wrong?

Annie Wakefield
Digital Marketing Manager
19 August 2009

There’s no doubt that image optimisation has the potential to increase traffic, but I want to know why more sites don’t make better use of this? Or am I doing it wrong?

I use Google images all the time, especially, as a woman, when looking at shoes, dresses, jeans and so on. Searching this way is easier and more brand-liberating than browsing lots of specific sites, and searching within them. Sure, that’s also great way to find beautiful clothes, but not when I’m in a hurry. It’s still necessary to sift through the results as I don’t often get what I’m looking for immediately. Come to think of it….how often AM I getting what I’m looking for?

The reason I use image search for clothes is so that I can have a look at a page or two of outfits and then click on the ones I like to go to their respective websites for more details. The problem is…these images seldom lead me to sites where I can buy the outfits shown.

Out of hundreds of great pictures, I seldom find an item for sale. For example, a search for ‘little black dress 2009’ gave me lots of pretty pictures this morning, but in the first twenty images to appear there wasn’t one dress for sale, as all the links went to either fashion blogs, directories or magazines. Page two and three weren’t much good either and finally an image on page four led me to…. oh, a beautiful blue handbag for sale.

A more specific image search for ‘little black dress 2009 Topshop’ gave me not one link out of twenty to anything remotely related to the clothing store. Finally, I do an internal search on Topshop’s website, searching for the ever elusive LBD:

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Lace Cut Shoulder DressThis is not right. Funny enough, the site is able to find ‘short black dresses’, ‘long black dresses’, ‘mini black dresses’, – it’s even optimised for a typing error: ‘mioni black dresses’ gives 12 results!

Topshop has also, and rightly so, tagged their images, with very specific titles:

A search for ‘Lace Cut Out Shoulder Dress’ in Google images reveals nothing even similar to this one and nothing for Topshop – in the first 5 pages anyway, which is pretty much my maximum limit before I change search terms.
So, is the potential for e-commerce retailers like these to attract buyers via product images going to waste? Or am I doing it wrong?

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