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Google: Searching Visually Is Rare In Many Areas

John Mueller of Google said on Twitter the other day that “in many areas, searching visually is rare.” Meaning, that most of your traffic likely does not come from Google Image Search or other methods of visual search, like Google Lens or Multisearch, but rather typical web searches.

This was in response to advice on using stock photography for SEO and the importance of having unique images. In short, for web search, it does not really matter. But if you want the image to rank in image search, you probably want to go with something where there aren’t other sites using the image – Google will only show one of those sources and it will be hard for your site to show up.

John explained again on Twitter “If you’re focusing on web-search, go for it. Using stock photos is totally fine. If you’re trying to show up in Image Search, stock photos make it a bit harder (since we would try to just show one of the copies).”

The comment on people searching visually being very rare, I found to be a unique statement – although really not a surprising statement.

John added later “I don’t think it makes sense to look at this generically. For some sites/pages, images are a critical part of the content, for many sites/pages, they aren’t. I’d insert “it depends” here, if I were in a particularly short mood :). You’re the expert of your site’s content & topic.”

Here are those tweets in context:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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