People value representation and equity now more than ever before. In an announcement on May 11, Google stated it will start using a new image ranking signal and a brand-new schema to promote more racially inclusive and diverse image results.
The introduction of this new schema is the company’s next step toward better representation across its products and services. In collaboration with Harvard professor and sociologist Dr. Ellis Monk, Google came up with a new skin tone scale called Monk Skin Tone (MST), designed to include a wide spectrum of skin tones. The 10-shade skin tone scale will be integrated into various Google products, such as Images search and Google Photos, and will be available to use for research across the industry. But more importantly for advertisers, the company will use the scale to rank images for Images search results.
Business owners and publishers are encouraged to start labeling their image content with this new schema and include various attributes, such as skin tone, hair texture and hair color. This will let Google read the images better and understand details with them and use these as a ranking signal for image search results.
This push for image equity started in October 2021, when Google announced it had improved its algorithms to surface more racially diverse results in Image searches and eliminate racial and colorist biases from the search engine.
Google told Bloomberg, “We’ve started to roll out an improvement to Google Images to promote greater skin-tone diversity so more people can find relevant and helpful results.”
Now, with the MST scale, this initiative will gain more traction and spread more across Google products. If you’re a business owner or advertiser publishing diverse image content, applying this schema allows Google to better understand the attributes and details in your images, making it easier for searchers to find you on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
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