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Mere weeks after Google Images on mobile gained an upward swipe gesture that instantly opens webpages, its desktop counterpart is getting a fresh coat of paint intended to make visualizing collections of apparel, flora, home goods, hairstyles, and more easier than before. Google today announced the launch of a side panel on the Images search results page that anchors to the right of your browser window when you select a picture, enabling you to quickly compare the image with others as you scroll without having to open a separate tab.

“We’ve overhauled Google Images on desktop to make it easier for you to see what’s out there, learn more about the images you’re interested in, and take the next step toward making your idea happen,” wrote the company in a blog post. “[Click an image] as many times as you … just hit the back button to bring up the last image you clicked on.”

The new sidebar’s reveal coincides with the debut of an updated Images interface that collates product brands, prices, availability, and reviews beneath selected photos. Using schema markup on product webpages or shopping aggregator pages, developers can enable what Google refers to as rich results (which were previously known as rich snippets) that pull in accurate and fresh data.

The metadata joins the new captions underneath related photos in Images search results, which Google says adds context that was previously lacking.

Google Images

“For retailers and publishers, this updated interface also means people are more likely to visit a web page to get information to help them with a task, or to buy a product on your site,” Google wrote in a blog post.

It might be perceived as Google’s answer to Product Pins on Pinterest, which show up-to-date price, availability, and product descriptions on Pins from participating retailers’ websites. Perhaps tellingly, this week’s Images refresh comes months after Google broadly rolled out Showcase Shoppable ads (designated with a “Sponsored” label), an ad type that highlights multiple products within a photo.

In any case, the updates mark some of the most significant changes to Images since Google began displaying creator and copyright metadata, in partnership with photo industry body Center of the Picture Industry (CEPIC) and news agency standards consortium International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC). Starting late last year, Images visitors gained the ability to see with a few clicks the photo’s photographer, rights holder, and additional parties.

In September, Images began showing captions with web page titles and related search terms, and the search algorithms underpinning it were retooled to prioritize web page authority, fresh content, and image placement. Separately, Google brought Google Lens, its visual search tool, to Images on the web.


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