Posted on May 11, 2011 by Jennifer Pointer

google sort by subject


Neowin has a great article today, Google introduces 'Sort by Subject' to image searches, so I decided to check it out. I love, love, LOVE this new feature! Every once-in-a-while, Google does something that reminds us all why it's the king of search engines, and this is one of those things.


Most of the time, when I go looking for a picture to use, I only have a vague idea of what I need. I'm usually trying to either illustrate a blog post, or describe something I've seen to a friend, and need a photo or series of photos to do it.


I've had a couple of discussions lately about peacocks - yes, that's the truth. I've actually had more than one conversation about peacocks - one was about the actual birds and how loud they cry, and the other was about using the feathers for decoration.  I also have a peacock art piece as a wallpaper for my phone.  I really like peacocks.  Soo....I entered "peacocks" into the search bar under  That brought up a list of photos ranked by popularity under that search result - mostly photographs of male peacocks displaying their feathers. 


I could have started guessing, and searching for things like "peacock noises," or "peacock feather decoration," or "peacock art," and that would have worked.  But now, with this new feature, I just clicked on "sort by subject" in the lefthand column, and it sorted all of those nearly two million search results into popular categories, like "peacock tail," and "male peacocks," and "peacock background," and "white peacocks," (I LOVE those!), and "peacock drawings," and "peacock colors...".  You get the idea.


How does it do it? Google explains:


Sorting by subject uses algorithms that identify relationships among images found on the web and presents those images in visual groups, expanding on the technology developed for Google Similar Images and Google Image Swirl. By looking at multiple sources of similarities, such as pixel values and semantic relationships, and by mining massive amounts of data, we can make meaningful connections and groupings among images.


 What this means, in addition to the fact that searching for pics on Google just got cooler, is that it is more beneificial than ever to use strategic tags and titles on your photos and posts, because doing so will now increase the likelihood that your images will show up in their respective "subject" category on one of these searches.



Jennifer Pointer


Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. 


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