Microsoft is updating and adding extra functionality to Bing’s image search feature. It’s looking pretty impressive. Once the update is complete, each image Bing retrieves in a search will be accompanied by oodles of additional information and options. Users will be shown different sized versions of any image they select and will also be given the ability to quickly access sites that host that image. Meanwhile, the exact information that is added to each image will vary depending on the picture itself. The technology website TechnoBuffalo notes that a photo of a national park would be “accompanied by a few details culled from World Trail Finders”.
However, there’s one feature that should particularly interest online marketers. After the update, images of products will come with a list of websites where viewers can buy them. In other words, even if Bing locates an image of your product on an unrelated website (for example, a consumer’s blog or a rival website), when it shows that image to viewers, your site will be listed as a supplier. It’s always been important for businesses to make their product photos appealing. Now, however, there’s an additional incentive to do so. An appealing product photo could be found by a viewer using Bing’s improved image search; if they click that image, they will then be shown a list of websites where they can buy the product. This list will include your website, meaning that (at the very least), you’ll receive additional site traffic and (at best) will also make a significant number of sales. The update will be especially beneficial to you if your business is the only supplier of a particular product.
While the addition of a ‘where to buy’ feature is deeply significant to any business engaged in online marketing, it’s not the only reason Bing’s image search update is important. For the first time since the search engine launched, Bing has outstripped both Google and Yahoo in terms of functionality (at least for this one particular type of search). This is likely to give Microsoft a larger share of the search market and cause some consumers to abandon their current search engines in favour of Bing. Online marketers should take Bing’s increased significance into account when optimising their websites; more attention should now be given to making sure sites are Bing-friendly.
The update is due to be rolled out over the next few weeks. For now, you should consider preparing your website and updating your product photos.