Search By Image

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June 16, 2011:
Google adds Search By Image to Google Desktop.

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Find Other Images Online or Search With Pictures

Is someone using your pictures? Search for them and find out!

Search by image features offer a variety of ways to find similar (or the same) images by using search engine features that can recognize items and objects in pictures. For example, if you see a stock image that is being used on multiple sites, you can do a search on the image and see where else it is used. One site that does reverse image search very well is TinEye.com. Some of the more modern features in the search by image arsenal include searching on elements within the image, so landmarks and other features can help a search engine determine where and when a picture was taken. Furthermore, the image elements themselves can be used (like a clickable image map) to deliver specific information on parts of the picture, so you could click on the image of an object (such as the Liberty Bell) and get historical information about that item. The Google Goggles Android App (free) uses search by image functionality that can figure out words in a picture, identify objects and products, and even scan barcodes to determine what item is associated with the bar code number. Recently, I used this feature to take a picture of the Colosseum at Caeasar's Palace in Las Vegas, and was surprised when results came back that only had portions of the picture and correctly associated it with a promotional poster for a show that was playing there. As search engiens evolve, search by image could potentially replace "literate" searches, so it may make sense for search engine marketers to see about sponsoring certain types of search results as they will become more common in the near future.

Notes and Special Information

Special note: Always be careful on your own sites to use images where you own the rights or have the right to reproduce them. Reverse image search engines also seek out copyright violators on behalf of the rightful owners.