Behind the Desktop Wallpaper – Ranking for Generic Queries

June 23rd, 2017 by Mike Bates

image search results

generic desktop background

Every time we search, we give away something else about ourselves. Whether it’s to Google, via the ubiquitous search assistant, or industry sites like Amazon, Facebook, or Skyscanner. You might be lusting after a holiday to Las Vegas while your other half is none the wiser, but the chances are Google, Twitter, and AirBnB have already clocked it and have a legion of ads waiting to send your way.

User intent, and predicting the likelihood of users converting is big business. It’s the evolution of these algorithms that continues to drive digital ad spend’s annual increase, from PPC campaigns through to broadcaster VOD. But what about non-commercial searches? How can publishers and webmasters create content that will appeal to the ultra-generic query?

It’s simple really: remember that the user is a person (even if that person is one of thousands of ambiguous search impressions).


Protip: Image Filters in Image Search

Google Image Filters

What do Kate Spade, Lily Pulitzer, Disney, Marvel, and owls have in common?

They are all modifiers to the generic ‘desktop wallpaper query’ that other users are applying to refine their search. Keyword research tools also show that other common modifiers are ‘cool’, ‘free’ (did anyone ever pay for these?), and ‘nature’.

So our users are telling us that, when people are looking for specific wallpapers, they like them to contain these items, designs, and people. This is certainly something of a none-point, but what else does it say tell us about people, and their search habits?

It tells us that people are a bit unsure of themselves – they set their desktop wallpapers not just for their own satisfaction, but to tell others about their interests, what makes them unique. They have to have cool device wallpapers, showing their interest in art, comics, and cinema. This is great if people volunteer this information to Google when they search, but what about when you look for something that is unbelievably generic.

What if you ask Google to provide a ‘desktop wallpaper’? Well, these search terms tell us that when people ask for a ‘desktop wallpaper’, these are all the things that users are NOT looking for.


Ranking for ‘Desktop Wallpaper’

image search results

If you’re searching for ‘desktop wallpaper’, you’re out of ideas. You don’t want a Disney wallpaper, or you’d have asked for it, and that Obama Yes We Can wallpaper no longer fits the bill. You want Google to pre-empt what will work for you, and the search engine needs to do this on the assumption that if you had a specific subject in mind you’d have made it clear.

But without anything to go off, Google hedges its bets. The algorithm can only present high-quality wallpapers that are going to appeal to the widest possible audience. It also has to do this in a way that offers better results than any other search engine can, or it risks losing even more ground to Bing.

Google is being asked to provide the most acceptably average desktop wallpapers imaginable – the Lighthouse Family of image results pages.


Ranking for Ultra-Generic Queries

While SEO, reputation, and UX will all be vital here, this query is all about content. While it will be tough to rank if you can’t get the basics of a good website in place, you have to offer the goods. Without an achingly generic wallpaper to offer, you have no chance.

So if we want to create this content, we need to understand what makes the best, average wallpaper. But how do you know what to offer people who don’t know what they want, let alone tell you what they’re after? You look to see what Google is already suggesting.


Generic Content for Image Search

desktop subject pie chart

Returning to our SERP, a subjective categorisation of the top 125 results by subject matter shows that 30% of these results are landscapes or images of the skyline, while 25% of images prominently feature water, and another 25% focus on plants.

The biggest losers are technology (The Matrix wallpapers are a thing of the past guys, sorry) and images of people are clearly too divisive. Only 0.8% of ‘desktop wallpaper’ results include people, and you can never see their faces clearly.

So we can reason that if you’ve ever searched ‘desktop wallpaper’, the chances are you ended up setting a leafy landscape with a lake in it as your background.


The Perfect Colour for a Desktop Wallpaper

colours for a desktop wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gillman can rest easy: the desktop wallpaper is not yellow. In fact, using an image colour summarizer on our SERP reveals three colours dominate: a muted cerulean, olive, and indigo. These align well with water, foliage, and blue sky respectively: they even occur in representative quantities.

Our perfectly generic wallpaper would therefore be approximately 7% water, 12% greenery, and 28% sky blue. The sky blue is slightly purple, so you probably want to take your photo at twilight to recreate the perfect shade, and edit your image to mute the colours a little.


Creating the Ultimate Desktop Image

ultimate desktop image

The perfect image for a desktop wallpaper is a wet landscape that uses a muted palette. Never include human faces and stay away from technology, although an animal is allowed (make sure it’s a popular one: puppies, kittens, tigers, and mystical dolphins all do well).

This points to a fairly typical landscape, so it’s hardly surprising to find that this isn’t without precedent. Microsoft already cemented its place in desktop wallpaper history when it set the photograph ‘Bliss’ as the default wallpaper in Windows XP.

While too bright to perform well now (notably, Bliss ranked 267th in our sample SERP), the iconic wallpaper is 34% sky blue, and 20% sap green. All that’s missing is our 7% water. So if anyone at Microsoft is reading this, add in a lake and reduce the saturation, and desktop wallpaper domination can be yours once again.


Why it’s important to recognise different personalities. What makes you, you?

June 5th, 2017 by Charley Downey

Lego heads

It can sometimes seem too obvious.

You may have a friend who you naturally get along with, but when it comes to certain situations, you struggle to get on their wavelength. Or perhaps you and your partner can never see eye to eye on certain subjects, because you wouldn’t handle something in the same way as they would. It’s normal for people to have completely different traits, just because we get on it doesn’t mean we must agree all the time, right?

We recently had our Boutique Away Day and one of the exercises focused on Colour Energies. This is the theory that, as humans, our dominant personality traits fall within one of four groups. Once we determine which group ‘leads’ our personality, we can identify our strengths, weaknesses, and how we would work with or against other personalities in other groups.

According to the theory, your personality will mostly be made up of traits/characteristics from two of the colour groups. You may have characteristics from all four, but you will have two colours that are the most dominant. Here are the colour splits…

colour personality wheel

Your two most dominant colours are likely to be next to each other in the pie. For example, you may be more aligned with red and yellow, or blue and red – but it’s unlikely that you’ll be red and green, or blue and yellow.

So, let’s have a look at the actual traits of each group.

Reds: Competitive, demanding, strong-willed, purposeful, determined.

Yellows: Sociable, dynamic, demonstrative, enthusiastic, persuasive.

Greens: Caring, encouraging, sharing, relaxed, patient.

Blues: Cautious, precise, deliberate, questioning, formal.

If you’re still unsure about which groups you might fall into, there are tonnes of quick quizzes online such as this one.

Have you worked out your most dominant colour? If so, let’s look at the pie for the colour that’s opposite – as this is the most different personality to you. For example, if you’re mainly a red, look at green. This bit it the most important, as it enables you to understand how to work with other personalities.

When working with reds:

Do – be direct, to the point, focus on results and objectives. Be brief, be bright, be gone.

Don’t – hesitate or waffle, focus too much on feeling, try and take control of the situation.

When working with yellows:

Do – involve them in decision making, be open and flexible, be entertaining and fun in your approach.

Don’t- bore them with details, tie them down to a routine, leave them out of the picture.

When working with greens:

Do – be patient and supportive, slow down and work at their pace, ask their opinion and give them plenty of time to answer.

Don’t – take advantage of their good nature, push them to make quick decisions, throw them into an unexpected situation.

When working with blues:

Do – be very well prepared and thorough, put things into writing, let them consider the details of what you are saying.

Don’t – go off on a tangent, invade their personal space, ignore important details.


Interesting stuff, isn’t it? You can find out more on the official Colour Works website.

The exercise really highlighted how different we are as a group, and it was funny to see how accurate some of the findings were. Humans are the most complex and advance species on the planet – yet sometimes we can forget the obvious and assume we’re all the same.

The away day was great. We reflected on our progression and more importantly our goals. We focused on culture, our clients, the team and everything and anything we can do to ensure we’re always thriving to be better. We also laughed, drank, had plenty of fun and worked out our colour energy. And as a little take away, we’ve each popped a Lego creation on our desks to represent our colour traits in descending order. So that if ever we feel like someone just doesn’t understand our vibe, it’ll remind us that ‘hey – they’re not out to get us, their brain just works a little differently’.

Here’s to being different!