Bing Vs Google Image Search and Image Optimisation

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Dave Ashworth
on 2/9/09

It’s no secret that Google are far and away the no.1 search engine in terms of search activity, a recent report has it’s market share down at 67.5%.

Despite a 41% increase in searches over the last year, when Microsoft released Bing you did wonder how they would exactly they would look to attract searchers away from Google.

It would seem that one way they intend to do this is via their image search functionality which they appear to have taken a step further than Google, with over 60 million image searches per month this may not have been a total waste of time with regards breaking the Google monopoly.  Indeed, the first thing that strikes you from their home page is the striking imagery in use:

Of course, this aspect doesn’t score any points over Google, it’s all about functionality and relevance, but still, very aesthetically pleasing none the less.

The comparison comes when you want to actually search for an image of something.

Here is the Google results page for an image search on “Bolton Wanderers

Whilst here is Bing’s offering.

Both engines offer further intuitive options but Bing’s are automatically shown down the left hand side, personally, I’d never even noticed Google’s options here before carrying out this comparison.

What I like about this functionality is how easy it now is to narrow down, or even widen, your search.

You can quickly and easily now choose to see:

Colour images

Black and white images

Black and what face shot photographs (not sure why Ronaldo appears here...)

Colour Illustrations only

And if you rollover one of the images of a replica shirt on the above results, you have the option “show similar images” which will then present you with even more football shirt images.!

These options make image searches extremely powerful and give you far more control over what you’re looking for which can only lead to a more relevant search.

Whilst similar functionality is on offer for both, I found Bing’s to be far more intuitive, user friendly and generally more useful.

With this in mind, to ensure that images on your website are optimised correctly for image search remember to carry out the following:

  • Give your image a relevant name.  There are many images out there (and indeed pages) that have a name which gives in no way any indication of what they are about.  If you have an photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge you wish to display proudly on your site, call it “sydney_harbour_bridge.jpg” and not something perhaps more convenient such as “shb.jpg” or the straight from camera convention - “DSC0009.jpg”.
  • Equally as important, use something descriptive and relevant with your “alt” tag.  All too often these are left blank or far too vague, again using the previous example, avoid something ambiguous like “Australia”, “Bridge” or “Sydney”.

With image search on the up and Bing making it both easier and more powerful, make sure your site images are correctly optimised.