How Do I Search for Text in Google Images?

Posted at Sep 11, 2019 8:18:44 AM by Michelle Sternbauer | Share

Google Photos provides many methods of searching through your personal photo library. However, one Google image search and indexing component that has been on users' wish lists for a while is the ability for the platform to recognize text within images.

Does Google Have OCR?

Google Photos recently announced the roll out of a feature allowing users to search for text inside an image. Google revealed this new feature in a very subtle manner on Twitter by responding to a follower’s inquiry.

Using optical character recognition (OCR), Google Photos now can pick up on text within an image – even if the characters are shot at an angle or skewed. 

Here’s an example:

Google Image Search | How to Search for Text Inside an Image on Google | THAT Agency of West Palm Beach, Florida

This image of a front lawn has two signs in the composition. Each sign contains words using varying fonts, sizes and positions, and the words are shown at different skewed angles. A user may search for this image within his/her Google Photos repository using the full or partial amount of the text.

In addition to recognizing any text in searchable terms within Google Photos, Google Lens also can index this text for future searches.

This feature is slowly being rolled out for use on mobile devices, so be on the lookout for it in the Google Photos app for Android and iPhone.

Google OCR in Images: Potential Impact

If Google OCR in images propagates to widespread adoption and use, it could expand some of the current efforts used in both the social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) arenas. This could lead to non-trivial advances from the perspectives of content creation, positioning, and strategy, as images currently used on social media platforms and the web are at the favor of their captions or alt text attributes.

Here’s an example: 

LinkedIn is a platform that currently limits the number of characters performing the alt text function at around 125. Google OCR in images will provide another layer of indexing – and another data point to use in keyword search.

However, it is still important to make use of and include alt text in all images used. 

It is also important to begin thinking about how to optimize for Google OCR in images in your social media marketing and SEO strategies. This can affect the image content you create for your social media accounts and website – as well as the organic content you lead your followers to create.

If you manage your company’s social media marketing or search engine marketing, it is important to consider how Google will begin to affect your mobile users' search queries and what is driving traffic to your website.

For example:

Use of your company name, long-tailed keyword, and hashtags should be included in an increasing number of images you schedule in your social media content. This text no longer needs to be placed squarely as an overlay to the image. The text may be placed using softer techniques, such as textual context as a secondary focus of an image.

But for now, it is important for you to know how to use this feature on your phone:

How to Search for Text Inside an Image in Google Photos

  1. Open the Google Photos app.
  2. Tap on the search bar and type what you're looking for. For example, if you took a screenshot in Yelp or Google Maps of a coffee shop you want to try, just type coffee or the name of the business.
  3. Once Google has spotted the image for you, tap on it.
  4. Tap the Google Lens button on the bottom of the screen. It's a square with a dot in the center.
  5. Google will highlight all the text in the photo. Tap on the words you want to copy.
  6. Select "copy text."
  7. Now you can paste the text wherever you need, like in the Messages app or in a browser.



Stay tuned to the THAT Agency digital marketing blog for updates as this feature and its usage evolves. 

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