The Google Lens update and what it means for eCommerce brands

Gibson Toombs

October 1, 2021

1 min read

Roughly half of today’s consumers begin their online shopping journey with a Google search, making SEO a critical part of any business’ eCommerce strategy. But as the Google Search Console becomes more advanced, consumer searching behaviors evolve, and online companies must be able to adapt to these changes—or risk losing their competitive edge.

A recent update to Google Lens—the company’s image recognition solution—is one such development that will certainly have an effect on the searching habits of online shoppers. This update uses AI technology to produce search queries based on text, audio, images, and videos submitted by the user, ultimately providing a more seamless experience—as well as more accurate search results—for the user.

Keep reading to learn more about Google Lens, the technology behind it, and how the recent update may impact your eCommerce brand.


Google Lens allows users to perform a variety of tasks with their smartphone camera, including:

  • Scanning and translating text.
  • By pointing your camera at a physical document, such as a written letter, the Google Lens app will create a digital file for that document, where the text can be saved, edited, copied and pasted, etc.
  • Searching for products via images.
  • Rather than having to describe exactly what you’re looking for, you can simply point your camera at a physical example of the item—whether it be a pair of shoes, a piece of furniture, or an automobile—and the app will recognize it, producing a SERP with links to relevant product pages from various sources.  
  • Identifying plants, animals, and other objects:
  • If you see a dog in the street and want to know what kind it is, all you have to do is capture it on your camera, and the app can tell you what breed it is.

At Google’s 2021 I/O Developer Conference, the company announced an update to Google Lens that will make searching for products even more efficient. Users will soon be able to attach voice and text descriptions or questions to their visual searches, leading to more targeted SERPS. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you come across a sweater that you love—specifically because of its bright colors—and you decide to buy one for yourself. You could bring up Google on your phone, click the Lens icon, point your camera at the sweater, then say or type something like “find colorful sweaters like this.” Taking in the image along with your voice and/or text, the app will automatically produce search results that point you in a direction where you can purchase a similar sweater.

Or, let’s say your dishwasher breaks, but you don’t know the name of the part that needs to be replaced. You could take a picture of the broken part, then add a question like “what part of the dishwasher is this,” or something more general like “how to fix a broken dishwasher.” This will prompt Google to provide search results around eCommerce sites that offer that particular replacement part.

This Google Lens update was developed using a new AI technology called Multitask Unified Model (MUM). With the ability to process information in almost any format, from text and images to audio and video, MUM can make connections between various ideas, topics, and concepts—allowing for a more intelligent and further-reaching solution.


As the Google Lens app becomes more advanced, smartphone cameras will play an increasingly important role in the eCommerce experience—and search queries that combine text, images, videos, and audio will be commonplace. Here are some key considerations for eCommerce brands aiming to embrace this trend:


Google Lens is primarily used by smartphone users in on-the-go situations. They see something they’re interested in and want to purchase something like it, or simply learn more about it, so they take out their phone and capture it with their camera. And if Google’s SERP leads them to a website that’s not mobile-friendly, they won’t think twice before bouncing to another site. Therefore, it’s critical that your business’ online store is fully optimized for mobile devices. The mobile experience should be just as intuitive as the desktop experience, with fast page loading times, clean page designs, easy navigation, limited pop-ups, and so on.


Optimized product descriptions, images, slugs, alt tags, and metadata play an essential role in achieving high rankings on Google SERPs. These should be as informative and persuasive as possible so the Google Lens app matches them with the appropriate search queries. Returning to our sweater example from earlier, let’s say your company sells bright-colored sweaters like the one in the user’s picture. In addition to a high-resolution product image, you’ll want to include specifics in the webpage’s copy, slug, and metadata—such as “sweater with bright colors,” or more specifically, “bright purple sweater.” Strategically structuring product pages like this will help you leverage Google Lens and drive more qualified traffic to your eCommerce site.


While traditional SEO focuses on ranking for individual keywords, semantic SEO focuses on a page’s overall topic and relevance. The goal is to provide in-depth content on web pages so they satisfy more than a single search query. If done correctly, Google Lens will recognize your page as one that comprehensively addresses the user’s true intent. A good way to apply semantic SEO is by looking at the questions in the “people also ask” section of SERPs, then providing answers to those questions in your page’s content.  


The adoption of Google Lens is just one example of how user search behavior—and the online shopping experience in general—is changing. Is your eCommerce website set up to rank for image- and video-based search queries? If not, you may miss out on significant revenue opportunities.

Here at Codal, we stay in the loop on updates like these and are constantly finding ways to leverage new technologies in our clients’ favor. Our team can modernize your website so that it’s optimized for Google Lens, as well as any other trends and technologies that emerge in the future—helping to drive more traffic, increase conversions, and boost revenue for your business.

Interested in learning more about the Google Lens update and how it may impact your eCommerce company? Get in touch with Codal today!

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