Visual Search a Design Nightmare

With visual search engines like Redzee appearing on the horizon, the nature of search will be changed. Right now, in regular search results, your site is represented as text consisting of the same alphabet as everyone else. Searchers have to read the description of your site to figure out if they would like to go there. By contrast, a visual search displays a screenshot of the resulting sites, giving the impression that you can tell which sites are better by looking at an image of the site that is reduced to 35% of it’s original size. It is true that if you had been to a site before, but couldn’t remember the exact URL and didn’t bookmark it, you would be able to pick it out easier and faster than a regular search.

But visual search is a marketing bonanza that will be a design nightmare. Design changes will be requested to make the screenshot look more appealing at a reduced size. Pages will take on a more ad-like appearance, since getting people to look at your page is a desired effect, and just placing in the results will get eyes on your site. And if the screenshot is done in a certain manner, just ranking will get your advertising seen.

And how long will it take before pages are optimized to rank for a popular query just to splash spam in your face while you search? The problem is that an image is whatever you tell the machine it is. If you have an image of your product or service and tag it as ‘free ip tv’ then the machine has no recourse than to resort to your designation of what that image is. This is one reason why I don’t trust it when any search engine says they are p*rn free. As long as the machines cannot tell that they are being lied to, people will lie to them.

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