Apparently Google is turning a few more heads with its recent search engine ranking algorithm changes again. I'm not talking about Mobilegeddon, which will happen on April 21, 2015, but their latest announcement about e-commerce product images.
Google has put a lot of effort into improving how it understands images and the types of images that people would like to see. Starting today, they will roll out their latest algorithm update, which is expected to impact e-commerce websites.
Here are the details of their post:
Google's Search Quality team is continually working on ways to improve user experience. Over time, we've measured higher bounce rates on e-commerce websites with inconsistent photography, which indicates a really frustrating experience.
To improve the quality of search results for our users, we'll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address the inconsistent photography.
Here are the questions to ask of the product photography in your e-commerce site:
* Is it fully in focus throughout the entire product?
* Does the photo represent the true color of the item being sold?
* Does the product fill a majority of the image so the user can see fine details?
Seeing Google take a stand like this is pretty ambitious. There are many software programs available now that will help you auto-correct your own photography, and it would seem that Google has figured out how to incorporate some of those features into their search algorithm.
Fully In Focus
It would seem like the first hurdle is to combat blurry photos like this one:
Understanding how to adjust the depth of field of your camera is important if you can to get the entire item in focus.
Here's a correct photo of the same ring:
In that photo, you can clearly see the detail of the front of the class ring, as well as the sharp edge along the back shank.
True color can only come about if you know how to properly light your subject, or you understand how to adjust lighting settings in PhotoShop.
Here's a photo that's poorly lit using an auto-white balance on a camera:
You should never shoot your jewelry photos using auto-white balance, instead, you should always use a custom white balance that's adjusted every time you need to change your lighting source.
Using one of the auto adjustment features inside PhotoShop the above photo can be color corrected to look like this:
It's a really tedious process to color adjust every photo in PhotoShop, so it's better to learn how to white balance your camera and take the correct photo to begin with. It will minimize your work.
This last criteria has to do with simply giving users the ability to see the most amount of detail possible. I've seen plenty of jewelry photos with a small ring barely noticeable in the center of the image, making it impossible to see any of the detail.
Here's an example of an photo that doesn't show enough detail:
In that photo, you can barely see the honeycomb pattern on the class ring. You need to provide more detail if you expect to sell that ring.
If you are using a DSLR camera to take your photos, then you probably already have the detail needed. All you have to do is crop your original photo so it fills most of the image instead of the background.
This is the same image as above, just cropped to zoom in on the class ring again:
You shouldn't need Google to force you to take better photography. These three quick tips today should be easy enough to follow without worrying about some algorithm change that will lower your ranking.
The truth is that better quality website images will always lead to more sales. Customers stay longer and purchase more when they can clearly see your photos.
Although it's expected that Google does monitor your bounce rate as a ranking factor, you need to check today's date before worrying that image quality is a ranking factor.