A few data points from the recent SES San Jose conference that illustrate why image search is increasing in importance:

- In his keynote interview with Chris Sherman on Tuesday morning, Jim Lanzone, CEO of Ask.com, said that 50 percent of the results they provide on Ask3D do not come from traditional web results. Note that my own examination of this shows that there are still 10 blue links, but there are also image results, news results, and other relevant data provided in addition.

- In the Image Search session, Shari Thurow stated that 15 percent to 16 percent of web searches are for images. This is just a stunning number!
Shari Thurow also offered up the data point that usability testing shows that users are more likely to click on an image link than a text link. As experienced SEOs know that means you lost the anchor text opportunity with that link, but you can easily address that by putting the pretty image links up top, and having a general purpose menu in the footer of your page using text links.

- From an examination of sites I monitor, Google Image Search has become a steadily more important referrer, and often is one of the top 5 referrers. This is true even on sites that are not really that image-centric.

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