Google has started showing consumers ‘similar items’ to the products they’re searching for.

Retailers take note: Google is looking to drive product discovery in a visual way. It’s doing that by showing “similar items” to consumers who use Image Search on the mobile web or in the Android Search app to look for products.

How retailers can take advantage of Google image search’s latest tweak

The move makes Google image search more akin to Pinterest, the social network focused on helping consumers discover products.

“The similar items feature enables users to browse and shop inspirational fashion photography and find product info about items they’re interested in,” a product manager on Google Image Search identified as Julia E writes in the blog post, Rich products feature on Google Image Search. “Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature requests from our users. The similar items carousel gets millions of impressions and clicks daily from all over the world.”

Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature requests from our users.
Julia E
Google product manager on Image Search

The similar items feature is being used for “lifestyle” images such as handbags, sunglasses and shoes. In the next few months, Google plans to expand “similar items” to cover other apparel and home and garden categories.

For a retailer to have its products appear within “similar items,” it needs to:

  • Ensure the items on its product pages use org product markup, which is the metadata that enables Google to provide such detailed product information as price, availability and review ratings, in search results.
  • Include an image reference. Products with name, image, price and currency, and availability metadata on their host page are eligible for similar items.
  • Test pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify the product markup is formatted correctly.
  • See images on image search by issuing the query “” For results with valid product markup, a retailer may see product information appear once it taps the images from its site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl a retailer’s website.

Adding that metadata is relatively simple and should only take a few hours, which is why retailers should act, says Brian Klais, founder and president of Pure Oxygen Labs, a mobile marketing and mobile search engine optimization firm.

“Retailers often get caught in a cycle in which Google says to add metadata and then they ask, ‘What will this do for me?’” he says. “That’s led many retailers to drag their feet. But there’s little downside here to moving quickly.” After all, even though image search may not currently drive much traffic for most retailers, Google appears focused on driving consumers to use it. And if it’s a priority for Google, it should be for retailers as well.