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Does a Google search find images with the word being searched?

Posted on 2016-09-29
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Last Modified: 2016-10-04
Hi,

When I used Google to locate documents on my client's website with the word (e.g.) "Vendor":

Unless I'm missing something, the returned results included a doc where "Vendor" is included in the screenshot of a menu (an image), but not the actual text...unless I'm missing something, not in the actual text. Unless you include the page tree on the sidebar. (This doc is in Confluence).

Is Google search now smart enough to extract (simple) text from images?

Thanks,
Steve
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Question by:Stephen Kairys
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Expert Comment

by:Wayne Herbert
ID: 41822735
I suspect not... it's either using the ALT TEXT field and/or the image name, href, link, or some such to obtain a keyword.  But, that's my guess.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41822748
Wayne,
By ALT TEXT you mean the text within the sidebar?
Thanks.
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Assisted Solution

by:Wayne Herbert
Wayne Herbert earned 100 total points
ID: 41822755
No, when an image is inserted into a website, the "alt" tag enables the web creator to add text to an image that is to be displayed.  This text is only displayed if the image itself cannot be displayed but is part of the HTML code.  Consider this webpage:

https://www.vendorpricebook.com/

That "Connecting Vendors and Retailers" has HTML code as shown below.  For this image, both the name and the text in the "alt" tag would have provided a 'vendor' keyword.

alt.png
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41822759
Thanks, Wayne.

Whew, didn't realize how late it was. Signing off for the day and week. Will give your response the time it deserves when I return next week.

Have a good weekend.

Steve
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Koen Van Wielink earned 250 total points
ID: 41823076
Actually Google DOES search for images based on the words in your search term. While this was still somewhat experimental when I heard about it a year ago from one of Google's platinum suppliers it was already operational. Pretty sure it is capable of recognizing text inside an image without any tags.
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Assisted Solution

by:Paul Sauvé
Paul Sauvé earned 150 total points
ID: 41827249
the long and the short of it is, Google Image Search looks for the best match to the image you entered... but no OCR...
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41828107
@Wayne - thanks for the useful info.
@Koen - If Google pulled that off - very impressive.
@Paul - Pardon my ignorance: What is "OCR"? :)

Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Koen Van Wielink
ID: 41828142
OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. It's a technology that allows documents that are stored as an image to be converted into readable text. For example a scanned PDF document or a business card. Once that's done you can edit it, index the text for search purposes, etc. But I don't think that the technique Google uses is based on that. For example, if you search for "Mount Fuji", it will return you images of that mountain not necessarily only because those images are tagged that way, but also because it knows from search history what that mountain looks like. Similar technology is used to for example recognize emotions in faces, specific objects in images, etc.
See Google's "Vision" API for more details.
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Assisted Solution

by:Koen Van Wielink
Koen Van Wielink earned 250 total points
ID: 41828150
Here's another article that describes how it works.

Google Opens Its Cloud Vision API To All Developers

It also confirms it's being used in Google's image search
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41828159
Thanks, Koen. Great stuff! :)
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Author Closing Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41828162
Thanks, everyone for this useful - and very interesting info!
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