Is Google’s New Image Search Increasing Or Decreasing Your Traffic?

    January 31, 2013
    Chris Crum

Last week, Google announced a new design for its Image Search. It’s been rolling out, so maybe you have it by now. One thing that was interesting about this particular launch is that Google made a major point of talking about how good it was going to be for webmasters. They even made the announcement on the Google Webmaster Central blog.

As a webmaster, have you been pleased with the changes? How about as a searcher? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Note: This article has been updated as we’ve encountered more discussion about the changes.

Google implied that the changes would be good for webmasters in terms of increasing traffic to their sites.

“The domain name is now clickable, and we also added a new button to visit the page the image is hosted on,” said associate product manager Hongyi Li. “This means that there are now four clickable targets to the source page instead of just two. In our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that this will be the case for everyone, but that’s the kind of thing you want to hear, if they’re going to talk about the effects the changes have had on sites in internal testing.

Marketer Rich Gorman has gone as far as issuing a press release praising the benefits of the new Image Search to webmasters. Here are a couple of quotes from that:

“Google has made some changes to its Image Search platform that will be immediately apparent when you go to conduct your next image inquiry,” Gorman says, in a new statement to the press. “At first, the changes may seem cosmetic, but they are actually very significant, and for a couple of reasons. The most obvious reason is that it simply makes image searching quicker and easier for search engine users, but more important is the fact that these changes bring new challenges and opportunities to online marketers and reputation management professionals.”

“More than ever, users are going to be using an image search to click through and access a corresponding domain, and what this means is that Google Image Search is going to be sending more referral traffic,” Gorman says. “For businesses, this presents a whole new opportunity to draw users to a particular website. By using compelling, engaging images, businesses and marketers can boost traffic to various landing pages and online assets. In other words, image optimization just became a lot more important!”

“The source page will no longer load up in an iframe in the background of the image detail view,” explained Google’s Li of the changes. “This speeds up the experience for users, reduces the load on the source website’s servers, and improves the accuracy of webmaster metrics such as pageviews. As usual, image search query data is available in Top Search Queries in Webmaster Tools.”

Some sites aren’t having such great experiences with the new Image Search. Here are a few examples of comments we’ve received from WebProNews readers (some in the comments section of this actual article):

I’ve noticed a huge negative difference in my image search results according to my WordPress stats. However, this might be deceiving as I’m not sure if it was counting those “hits” that were just my page in the background. In reality, it might actually be for the better, will have to keep monitoring.

My initial fear was that somehow I did something wrong “Google-wise,” but looks like that wasn’t the case.

Why would you expect anything less from Google? The changes are only meant to benefit the bottom line. Next up will be Google ads next to our hotlinked images.

They have certainly crossed the line past thumbnail images and fair use with this one.

I’ve had a 50% drop in visitors, and I still rank good in search results.

How can it be good for webmasters? I do not need my domain name to be displayed on images search section of google.. I need that someone finds an image then because i show him/her this image, he/she comes to my website, then i can get profits. I do not want that i do the job and google gets the money thing.

Then google should also have a section search-for-content, he should show everything on our websites, at the bottom he should give a link to our websites, is that also okey for you?

You write all stuff, google shows every letter in it to the users, then do you think that the visitor will come to your website? Forget about it…

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable has been monitoring the forums as usual, and has seen other webmasters complaining about “significant” decreases in traffic. He points to threads in both WebmasterWorld and DigitalPoint.

Have you seen a dramatic difference in traffic coming from Google Image Searches for better or for worse? Let us know in the comments.

On a somewhat related note, Google has been rolling out its recent SafeSearch changes to more countries, and that may be having a direct affect on some businesses. One WebProNews reader, who says they work in adult business, says the change affects their sales and research. More on all of that here.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.