Google's Voice Search and Search by Image Now on Desktop

If you happen to use certain types of mobile devices, you may already be familiar with "searching" online by simply using your voice or an image on your phone. Such mobile technology has been available since 2008, and this week Google Voice Search and Search by Image is rolling out on your desktop as well.

You will be able to search vocally on Voice Search once you download Google Chrome 11+ in English, which came out this week. You will also need a microphone, either installed on your computer or via a device you plug into your computer. Once you are squared away with those prerequisites, you simply click on the microphone icon on the right side within the search bar and begin speaking. According to Google, this feature will make searching easier with those hard-to-spell words or long-tail keyword phrases that are simply easier to say than type.

Search by Image is already available and works in a similar fashion to Google Goggles on mobile devices. Search by Image allows you to either upload your own picture, paste the URL of an image, or drag and drop a photo from your computer or other web pages into the search box. Google will then take that image and match it against billions of other images in their database, taking into account its distinctive features, colors, lines and textures, before coming up with a "best guess" text description of the image. Google will then display similar images that match the text description.

I tried Search by Image myself, using various travel pictures, and Google was able to identify my image about 50% of the time. Google was accurately able to describe my images of Iguazú Falls, Argentina and the Catalina Island harbor, but ironically could not identify a photo I took of Google's Mountain View campus. Just as they claim, you are much more likely to find what you are looking for with a famous skyline, animal, or piece of art, and less likely with an image that has rarely been indexed.

Both Google Voice Search and Search by Image are examples of the increasingly powerful way online search is helping people find what they need. If you or your business are not already advertising online or using social media as part of your advertising strategy, it is not too late to start. Contact your SEO agency today to find out how these tools can help your potential customers find you faster.

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