Google Says New Image Search Interface Is Better For Webmasters

Jan 24, 2013 • 8:21 am | comments (29) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

Last week we reported that Google was testing a new image search design - well, that design is now officially being rolled out to users.

In our post, we explained how webmasters are really not happy that Google is providing such a large preview of the image. It will discourage searchers from clicking from Google to the end site in order to see a larger version of the image. Google disagrees and says this is better for webmasters.

Here is the before and after shot of a search for [nasa earth] and clicking on a specific image. Note, you can click on any image to enlarge:


Google Image Search Design Old


Google Image Search Design New

Why does Google think this is better for webmasters? They write these reasons:

  • We now display detailed information about the image (the metadata) right underneath the image in the search results, instead of redirecting users to a separate landing page.
  • We're featuring some key information much more prominently next to the image: the title of the page hosting the image, the domain name it comes from, and the image size.
  • The domain name is now clickable, and we also added a new button to visit the page the image is hosted on. 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.
  • The source page will no longer load up in an iframe in the background of the image detail view. 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.

Do you agree?

Danny Sullivan has some more details at Search Engine Land.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Google+.

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Samer Hadi

01/24/2013 01:30 pm

Couldn't agree less. The original interface would send the users to an iFrame of which 70%+ existed of the website the picture is located, while the new interface doesn't show anything of a website. Since the images seem to be larger in preview mode, I can't see any reason that more users would visit the website.


01/24/2013 01:33 pm

"In our tests, we've seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website." I just wish they would make these test results more public, or at the very least flesh the information out a bit. I am not sure how much I trust a company when they say "we tested this, and it is better for you". Better how? What type of increase are sites seeing in CTR? What kinds of sites are seeing an improvement, is it a CTR improvement across a variety of sites or are certain types seeing an improvement while others are seeing a large drop? I don't see this impacting my part of pool too heavily (most people searching for our products want/need much more than just an image) but certainly there are some finding themselves the losers in this change up. It looks nice though.


01/24/2013 01:50 pm

I can see why users would still click through: They are searching fashion related terms. Some people may just be looking for the picture, but a lot of people browse fashion blogs. The picture could be the stepping stone into the blog like it used to be. They are searching for industry specific components. The picture gives a basic idea of what is being sold, but the specs are still very much required. They may be searching for a toy (a plush dinosaur was something I was recently attempting to buy for a nephew). The user may, as I did, browse through the image results as a first step in finding something that looks promising without very specific qualifications...much like window shopping or just browsing the aisles at a b&m. I am sure there are plenty of examples you could come up with. This is not to say that some users won't just look/save and then continue searching without visiting the site and this is wh\y I was hoping Google would start to be more helpful than their 'we tested's great' that we are getting.

Samer Hadi

01/24/2013 02:21 pm

Sure I agree, alot of users will still click through. My point is that the CTR is probably going to decrease.


01/24/2013 06:57 pm

What kind of Meta Data is Google going to display from JPG, GIF, etc It's unclear, if we should be doing this as SEO's.


01/25/2013 06:28 am

New Image Search is much faster, easier and better. You can now flip through the set of images and can see the metadata without being redirected to a landing page. I am loving it!!

Seo Freelancer

01/25/2013 08:16 am

in new interface of google images, where is similar images option, i think day by day google behaves differently

Movie Carpet

01/25/2013 09:08 pm

Today 30% traffic down! This happen on all of my sites! So, they LIE, this is not good for webmasters at all! And all this drop is on image search!


01/25/2013 09:35 pm

Same problem! Traffic down! Thank you, fu**in google!


01/25/2013 11:14 pm

...from your point of view and you are user who need some pics, search for them on Google, click, preview, save some to local disc and you don't need to go to any source website for more info or pics. But if you are the owner of this site who pay for server, CDN, cloud, and bandwidth then you're a loser who pays for all and not get anything. Do not forget that these images not produced by Google, it made by the owners of websites which Google brutally used. Same thing is with Bing, Yandex etc...

Nicolas Andrews

01/26/2013 10:55 am

I think will be better for them, not the others...

Ashley Pearson

01/26/2013 01:16 pm

You might be able to see why people might, but they arent. Our traffic from Google Images has dropped by 60% over the past couple of days.

Ashley Pearson

01/26/2013 01:19 pm

My main concern is the fact that we have to use our own paid bandwidth to display the images, but now we are getting nothing in return for it. They claim there is a growth in click throughs, but this is not the case at all. Our Image Search Traffic has dropped by 60% over the past couple of days since it launched. Thankfully we have a lot from Google Search and Google News, but this is still awfully annoying.


01/27/2013 01:01 am

Because old image preview page was actually loading your website on the background, but you can not count it as a real traffic because the visitor did not actually see your webpage. So the %70 is your real traffic.


01/28/2013 07:07 am

Google is wanting to keep visitors on their own network. They are stealing images without permission. Most of Webmasters getting image traffic should either block them or show them a middle finger by adding hotlinking protection. reviews

01/28/2013 11:47 am

From all the updates Google has made recently this is probably the best one. Now all the 'fake' pageviews do not appear in statistics and analytics - image views are not real page hits so they should not appear in metrics as they did before. This update deserves thumbs up no matter the lower ranking reports. We will need some time to get used to the new numbers I guess :)


01/28/2013 08:33 pm

It's possible that Google could use already all metadata included in images. Even if it doesn't show them in the image serps :-)


01/29/2013 06:29 pm

very soon 90% image traffic will be down. Video traffic is lost after google ranking almost 8-9 youtube links. Later keywords like celeb age,height , cast, weather , now they eat images. hope some alternative search become big or else google will suck our blood.


01/29/2013 06:33 pm

Actual tests are , adsense on google images increased 50% for them . now they are showing full images without rights.


01/29/2013 08:52 pm

Small time photo publisher here. All I can say is that since this has rolled out my page views have been cut in half! BUT... since they're hotlinking to the high res versions of my photos the bandwidth usage has gone up! Bottom line - this isn't a "search engine" it's a "site circumvention engine." They are basically providing a system for people to download my content without ever visiting my site - and to add insult to injury they're using MY bandwidth to do it! Ought to be illegal, and I can only hope that folks with more resources than I have will pursue legal action. But even if that happens it will probably come too late for me - most likely outcome is that I'll have to take down my site because it will cost more than it earns. I don't really understand why Google wants to put its own publishers out of business.

Movie Carpet

01/29/2013 11:42 pm

why then adsense also drop?

Donna B.

01/30/2013 04:21 am

I'm a cartoonist, and my traffic is down about a third. I've always had code up to break the google image-frame -- which of course, is another huge burden, because no site text is shown in whole like this -- so with the code, readers will only see the image a few seconds before it breaks into my webpage and deposits readers there. Doesn't work now. Now I'll just disallow images totally. There is no advantage left to having Google scrape my cartoons, use my bandwidth, take my traffic, and more importantly, take the cartoons. FULL SIZE. I'm sending them an invoice, reporting to Copyright Office and disallowing all images.


01/30/2013 08:37 am

Donna, I feel for you, but you could turn this into an opportunity. Let Google see your images, but only a low res version, maybe even with a watermark. If people want a better version without the watermark then they would need to come to your site to get it. You could put the better version behind a captcha form, and/or put them in a different folder which is the one you ban Google from. I know this sounds simplistic, but I would try and adapt and look on this as a marketing opportunity. The problem with web images, is that anyone can take them, not just Google.

Gustavo Lunz

01/30/2013 07:05 pm

I do not see how forcing the user to click more times can make the service faster. The accesses to pages that host the images will be smaller from now, by laziness. The immediate effect will be a decrease in traffic, just because Google wants to complicate the processing of images to the user. The great question is why?

Rahul Mukherjee

02/02/2013 06:12 am

The new Google images in jan 2013 SUCKS, I press page up and it goes to the top of the page

Roland Rackham

02/04/2013 06:55 am

Sorry, James. I check 5 web comics every day and I can tell you, if I had to jump through all the hoops you describe, I'd go somewhere else. This a clear case of Google stealing content from hard working people like Donna. For me, there may be a bright side. I used to play YouTube all day while I worked. But since Google worked so hard to ruin that experience, I have seen a new vid in weeks. Google hard is trying to make following up on an image unpleasant as well. Guess I'll be spending less time going to all those interesting sites.


02/04/2013 04:37 pm

It sounds ridiculous, but Google is basically scraping content.

only me

02/06/2013 07:21 pm

Just wait and see, if in the next google image shown an ads, this could be their new trick to increase their revenue using webmaster images.


02/08/2013 12:15 pm

As a user, I largely dislike the new layout. Formerly, we could still see the image file name and the full path to the image, which would often give some information about the image on its own. Now, I just see the image resolution and the domain (not really that interesting without the path behind). Also, hovering would formerly give me a somewhat enlarged view, which is now gone. Still, I do like the part about pages not being loaded immediately upon viewing the full-size version. More than once, my browser would freeze because those pages - that I didn't yet even want to look at; I was just trying to look at the full-size picture, after all - insisted on loading some obnoxious plugins or applets. As a webmaster, I don't see much of a difference. I suppose users who want to look at the page still look at the page, and the others didn't mean to look at the page in the first place, so Google takes away the burden of manually excluding those from visitor stats when trying to do any meaningful analysis. Just counting raw "visitors" (people who opened the page) rather than "interested visitors" (people who opened the page because they wanted to look at it) is pointless, anyway, so it doesn't pose a problem. So, I'd say that the old image search results main page and the new details pages are ideal.

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