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Bing Releases Searchable Image Text System

What if the text in images could be read by a search system as easily as text on a web page? This is the thinking behind Bing’s new smart search system. Drawing on the SkyDrive cloud computing resource and using smart OCR software to extract text from user uploads, it seeks to deliver more extensive search results.

SkyDrive itself is set to become more obscure within the next few months as it changes its name due to a legal challenge from BSkyB, but its systems will continue to operate as before and maintain its extensive public database of user-uploaded content. As before, private material will not be searchable and contacts-only files will only be searchable by people who know the file owner, but everything uploaded as public – the bulk of the material in the system – can be accessed by other users. From now on it will be easier for users to find relevant pictures as well as text, including images such as business cards and street signs where the text in the image itself could be highly relevant.

Using OCR on every candidate image during the search process would make things hopelessly unwieldy, so Bing has taken a smarter approach. Each image will be explored by OCR immediately after uploading and will thereafter be tagged so that it can quickly be identified in search.

What does this mean for those working in the field of content marketing? It means it is time to start thinking of content in terms of pictures as well as words – and in terms of words in pictures. Because the human eye is often drawn to pictures before words, getting the first or most striking picture in a list of search results is likely to be more effective than ranking high on text. A simple start might be made by taking a picture of a storefront with a business name prominently displayed upon it. This can also help in local search by making it easier for local internet users to connect what they see in a search with the real world.

Beyond this, it is useful to think about the psychological influence of images and how they can be made more visible; for instance, if keywords are linked in a snappy phrase and put on a T-shirt to be worn by someone with a happy, smiling face then the immediate mental image of the promoted brand with be a happy one. To find out more about this and other forms of internet marketing, contact Xcellimark at (888) 318-3950 ext.211.

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