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Monday, January 7, 2008

Google Goes Searching for Text in Your Images

Posted by @ 3:05 pm

Once upon a time, using images on a web page to display text was a major SEO “no-no” as search engines were unable to index pictures and graphics. A Google patent application suggests that “text in image” indexing may soon be a reality.

As revealed by a Google patent application that surfaced this week, the search giant is working on OCR (optical character recognition) technology that could revolutionize the future of search.

The concept behind the patent application could see Google indexing text in any “digital images” which would significantly increase the search engine giant’s index and improve the search-ability of its various other media search databases (image, video etc).

According to the “Recognizing Text In Images” application:

“Digital images can include a wide variety of content. For example, digital images can illustrate landscapes, people, urban scenes, and other objects. Digital images often include text. Digital images can be captured, for example, using cameras or digital video recorders. Image text (i.e., text in an image) typically includes text of varying size, orientation, and typeface. Text in a digital image derived, for example, from an urban scene (e.g., a city street scene) often provides information about the displayed scene or location. A typical street scene includes, for example, text as part of street signs, building names, address numbers, and window signs.”

The real draw card of this technology is the potential impact it could have on Google’s universal search. Suddenly more of its indexed content becomes accurately searchable and this allows for a greater level of convergence between Google’s various search services.

While the technology is probably some time off (so don’t abandon your commitment to using text for SEO purposes), accurate “text in image” search does open up a world of possibilities. Stay tuned to see when Google puts its patent application into action.

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (1 - comment)

I am not 100% convinced that the idea of using OCR technology on images will work – and even if it dosent google will never be able to say this is a picture of an entire warehouse of products.

If I were to put a picture of our warehouse on our website and google indexed it they would read all of the words on posters and signs we have hanging up. Funnily enough not one of them would say warehouse – what would google using OCR think this image is about? Buy 2 for the price of 3? Sale? Special Offer? We hold extensive stock of …? Please ask a member of Staff.

How are any of these words relevent, from an indexing point of view, to someone looking at the picture of our products in our warehouse? Well there not!

Are we supposed to hide keyword rich text inside of our product images to make it easier for google to work out what they are about? Are we heck – thats what alt tags and filenames are used for.

By Wholesale Imports - January 10, 2008

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