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

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

Is Google’s New Image Search Increasing Or Decreasing Your Traffic?
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  • http://Googlesearchformatonimages Stacy

    New format SUCKS! :(

  • Mark

    Google image traffic has dropped by 50-70% on my site. How to show people photos when Google does not give you visitors any more? Was this their objective? What is their objective? To send sites visitors or not? To steal peoples content for their own sight? Are they Flickr or a search engine? I spend hours taking, editing and writing about my photos. They therefore must been seen in full res at my site only. Do search engines not understand this? Images are content, sometimes a photo can say 1000 words or maybe only 10, but they still say something, therefore is content. Think again Google please, help us out, don’t kill us.

  • Steve C

    Yes – search traffic down by half overnight in late Jan. Now I know why. Not helpful.

  • mira

    It is soooo annoying! I thought it’s just me, but I see many people feel this way. What was wrong with the previous image search??? I was sure I would never say this, however – thank you Google, I am going to use Bing.

    • http://raghava-seo.blogspot.com Raghava

      good.. mee too, going to use bing…

  • Lars

    My image based website has lost 2/3 of the visitors after the change.
    Just a small site (700 pictures), but it feels that i have to change the direction of the site to more text based to get some visitors back.
    I hope google change their search back in some way to let the visitors in again.

  • http://thejoyofmoldings.com Ken

    My traffic was cut by half overnight.

    Showing my original content out of context is pure and simple theft.

    Google has been ramping up its screwing of all the individual publishers that it got rich on the backs of.

  • http://www.sunnysidekitchen.blogspot.com/ Eli

    My traffic has dropped to 1/5 of what it was before the new google images search roll out. The drop didn’t happen overnight. The google images traffic slowly decreased over the last 2 weeks until it is now basically nil.

    • http://www.sunnysidekitchen.blogspot.com/ Eli

      I’m not surprised since google gives no text whatsoever to allow the viewer to see the context in which the picture appeared. If I look up historical pictures, I can’t see which ones are from sites with a historical bent (that I might want to click on) and those that are something else (not of interest).

  • http://publicphoto.org/ ByREV

    55% dropped for websites with images … but here is a solution, new plugins like WP-PICShield saved us from disaster :) watermarks, blurr, redirects, iframe deny, etc… is manna from heaven !

    without this plugin already started to lose ~ 50% of my earnings !!!

  • teresa

    I HATE IT!!!!!!!!

    Google is WASTING MY TIME… It now takes me twice as long if not longer to find the images I want.. I do NOT want to have to DOUBLE click to get the page I am looking for.. STUPID and INSULTING to think anyone wants to waste time while trying to get work done.. TIME IS MONEY GOOGLE!!!! and you are wasting my time~~~

  • John Billam

    As usual, Google fixed something that wasn’t broken just to give its 12 year old techs something to do.

  • http://espliego.wordpress.com/ cantueso

    Notice two things:

    1. Most people claim losses of 50%. Some say the loss is 75%. I have not seen anybody that said his loss was 30% loss or a 90% loss.

    2. The vissitor/hits percentage has also dropped, in my case very evenly 25%.

    Plus, I am at WordPress and there the silence about this issue is itself so absolutely amazing a thing as to become tell-tale. This type of silence is sometimes called “deafening”.

    Putting these three things together I thought that past data were simply inflated. The Powers that Be have come up with new ways of counting hits. The changes at Google would contribute to the stats collapse, but not would not be the immediate cause.

  • http://www.bartending-school.com Dave

    We have local sites, that don’t depend on image search. Regardless one site, (the one referenced above) had 1 image ranked #1 in google image search for a particular keyword phrase. Fortunately for us, it doesn’t impact the business…though it impacted traffic to that page.

    Results since google made the change??? Traffic to that landing page dropped by over 50%.

    I would hate to have to depend on google image search.

    They took this content…reformatted it to one of THEIR pages…and now all that traffic to your images are KAPUT.

    Piece by piece Google has been doing this to content producers–screwing them.

    Its not a healthy devlopment.

  • http://gamerstherapy.wordpress.com Ryan

    Major drop in traffic. My stats dropped by 65%. Not happy about it but trying to work with it