Google has committed to using machine learning technologies to make its products more intelligent and user friendly over the next few years. The latest example of this effort is a new ‘Similar items’ feature in the Google Image Search app for Android and the mobile web.
The feature is aimed at giving users a way to find products in photos via Image Search. For example, when a user conducts a search for images containing specific products and finds one they like, they would be able to pull up multiple similar images by clicking on that image.
Initially at least, the similar items feature will support only handbags, sunglasses and shoes. Mobile users searching for any of these products on Google will be able to get multiple product images along with pricing information and from where to buy them.
In coming months, the similar items feature will include other apparel and also home and garden products, Google’s Image Search product manager Julie E announced this week in the company’s Webmaster Central Blog.
The Similar items feature, according to the product manager, will allow users to browse through images and find pricing and availability information about products they are interested in more easily than before.
The new capability to identify products in photos and to display additional images with matching products to users is enabled via Google’s machine vision technology, Julie E said. Examples of the technology include Cloud Vision API, which gives developers a way to write applications that are able to understand image content and classify them into different categories. Among other things, the technology is capable of finding individual faces and objects within images.
Merchants that want their products included in Similar items, will need to use schema.org’s product metadata and markup data to their product pages so Google is able to find their products and give users a quick rundown of the product including pricing and description.
At a minimum, merchants will need to ensure that products listed on their host page are marked up to include an image reference, name, price, currency and availability information.
Google has provided a so-called Structured Data Testing Tool that website owners can use to ensure that they have properly formatted their product markup data.
In addition, they can also see how their images appear on search by using the query “site”yourdomain.com” Julie E wrote.
Products that have a valid markup will display product information when clicked upon. However, it might take up to a week for Google’s web crawling bot to index the changes.
The Similar items feature is currently only available on the Android Google Search app and with mobile browsers. But Google will be making available on other platforms as well.