Poll: Blocking Google Images After Image Search Traffic Drop?

Apr 18, 2013 • 8:24 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Image Traffic DropIn late January, Google launched a new design change for Google Image search. Google said they've "seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website."

But webmasters are not seeing that or believing that. Shortly after, even before the stats were in, webmasters were skeptical and not happy with the changes. They believed it would result in less traffic from Google. And a month after that, we had stats to show huge declines in impressions drived from Google Image Search.

Google attributes the decline as not real, i.e. phantom visits that were caused in the old image search design. I.e. in the old design, Google loaded your page in the background even if the user didn't click through.

As I covered at Search Engine Land, a study done by Define Media Group said they had seen no instance of the phantom visit phenomenon and said on average, image search traffic is down 63% on average and as high as 78% in some verticals.

Google told us that this is not accurate, and that click through rates to webmasters is up 25% if you do not count phantom visits. They added they doubled the ways for searchers to click through the search site.

It has come to a point where webmasters do not believe Google and many are deciding to block Google from indexing their images. Here is a poll, what will you do?


Google Image Search Design Old


Google Image Search Design New

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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04/18/2013 01:38 pm

Google is loosing credibility. The said 25% come from the button "view original image". Clicking on it though won't get you on the website, just raw URL of picture.

Brian Provost

04/18/2013 01:41 pm

Barry, it's Define Media Group, not Demand Media Group. Also, to be clear on the "phantom traffic" issue, it's not that we weren't aware of it, it's that our publishing clients didn't view it that way. There was never any complaint, as they all monetize on page views and each of those visits created an active session and ad impression. So, while the UI was annoying, it was still an engaged user consuming their content and they were being compensated for it. Now they feel the rug has been pulled out from underneath that. Thanks for continuing to illuminate the issue.


04/18/2013 01:57 pm

I blocked them a while ago on my bigger sites, there was a decline in image traffic but no decline in organic non image traffic. Interestingly getting no image traffic didn't hurt my revenue either. For clients I tell them to leave images open to Google.


04/18/2013 03:54 pm

I will block all images from google.

Christian Müller

04/18/2013 04:13 pm

Why would you block the images? You recieve less traffic indeed but by blocking them you will recieve no traffic, how can this be helpful apart from trying to send a statement to google?


04/18/2013 04:32 pm



04/18/2013 04:38 pm

Google is like V'ger from the first star trek movie. It needs data to live and breath. If everyone blocks images, Google will have to re-design google-images. So in the end it would help.

Christian Müller

04/18/2013 04:43 pm

Yes as I said, trying to send a statement to google. But I doubt enough people even know how to block them, I dont think this will work but if major sites especially in the media(picture) business block them. On the other hand people may assume that it may be easier to rank if other people block their pictures. Other people inhouse probably think they would rather have less traffic than no traffic. Very interesting thing though with the new design, I highly disagree with the new design, as do many.


04/18/2013 05:09 pm

With Google soon embedding your texts as well, like with this week's Wikipedia experiment, you'd better forget about Google and start focusing on other traffic sources if you haven't already...

Joe Youngblood

04/18/2013 08:24 pm

Yep. Google's mission is to get people to the info they want the fastest way possible, so why show your page?


04/19/2013 02:21 am

I'm with Google on this one. Users sometimes have no idea what's going on in the background and refuse the hear the explanation. In this case you can clearly see the old version loaded the page in the background and the new only loads the image and requires a click-through. So you're gonna get less traffic because the phantom page is no longer loading but it's going to be more qualified if they do click through the new interface. It's simple to understand this but people sometimes just don't want to hear it. I've hated the page loading the background because there were scripts that would break out of Google image search and almost hijack your browser with no way to get back. The new image search prevents that by loading the image only, without the phantom page in the background.

Soni Sharma

04/19/2013 05:59 am

I am not convinced with the new design that is not helpful for webmasters... Google should allow users to leave Google for full view image. That will be great... There are some mistakes done by Google because of it many become anti Google. After All SEO community made G So big... Isn't it


04/19/2013 10:35 am

I side with google. I found the old design extremely irritating. That the whole page tried to load under the overlay of the image sometimes prompted me to just close the whole tab. I think there were many phantom views - I hardly ever actually explored the site. Now, there's a direct link that lets me load the source page if I want. If I think the website is probably worth checking out, I'll open it in a new window or tab.

Rahul Ranjan

04/19/2013 11:49 am

But I really dont understand how can i know that such and such visitor came form google image search. There is no any doubt that google is loosing credibility of webmasters but I think google never looks for webmaster. Google's main concern are their user. If users are satisfied then every thing is ok.


04/20/2013 08:49 am

I dont like this either ways, Google has to send the user to the page (like google search) and not showing only the picture and take it out the page's context. the webmasters community should attack google for this theft.

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