Google Image Search Traffic Drops 80% Since Redesign

Feb 26, 2013 • 8:40 am | comments (36) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google ImagesA month ago, Google launched their redesigned Google Image Search interface and as you know, Webmasters were not happy.

It has been a month and some folks are posting how the new image search design impacted their traffic from Google Image Search.

Gregory Karpinsky posted an image of the traffic to his 99% image based site in a Google+ Community thread showing an 80% plus decrease in traffic but his other engagement metrics are all up.

Here is the Google Analytics chart, click on it to enlarge:

click for full size

Besides for the huge drop in traffic, his conversions or goals are way up because users need to do more to see the site hosting the image. He shared his two goals:

  • Goal: More than 5 pages visited + 67.75%
  • Goal: More than 10 pages visited + 102.17%

How about other sites?

This site has seen a drop in Google Image search traffic by 40%. What have you seen?

Forum discussion at Google+ Community.

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Martin Missfeldt

02/26/2013 01:51 pm

yes, I can confirm that. Nearly the same at my engl. gallery - I got about 400 views per day before - now about 150.

Praveen Sharma

02/26/2013 01:56 pm

Exactly, there is more than 70% of image traffic loss on our websites. New image search design may be good for searchers, but its really hurting publishers.

Kole McRae

02/26/2013 02:11 pm

Exactly, traffic may be down, but the quality of traffic is WAY up. More conversions and the like.

Elroy van Ouwerkerk

02/26/2013 02:38 pm

When you make revenue on your website by selling products or services, it's actually a good thing to have more quality traffic. But when it comes to, let's say bannerimpressions, it's not about quality, and just about the pageviews. This will have an impact on sites like publishers.


02/26/2013 03:01 pm

Because we're dealing in Goals as percentage increases I'm not sure I'd mistake this necessarily positive? Doesn't it just mean the poor traffic is no longer present so the proportion of Goals completed has increased? For all we know the absolute number of Goals completed (which is what matters) could have decreased but proportionally it's increased. Or is my maths wonky?


02/26/2013 03:34 pm

The "lost traffic" was not really "traffic" at all. In the old design, the host web page was greyed out in the background when the image was viewed in Google Images. This would have counted as a visit, even though the visitor was not really visiting at all.


02/26/2013 03:35 pm

I agree with you. The "non-traffic" generated by the greyed out web page in the old design has been removed from the equation. So what you are left with is a better representation of conversion of "real traffic".


02/26/2013 03:41 pm

More absolute conversions or more as a percentage of previous?

Ryan Hartje

02/26/2013 04:08 pm

The new image search design is awful and ruined a long standing, greatly developed usable interface.

F Google

02/26/2013 04:20 pm

What??? But some pathetic loser from Google, Pierre Far, said that this would mean more traffic for sites? Google is going for every little breadcrumb.

Wendy Bauer Piersall

02/26/2013 04:25 pm

Not true. If that was the case, all that "lost traffic" would have had a 100% bounce rate and 1 page view per visitor. My bounce rate and pages per visit haven't changed in the new interface. So all those people who used to see the grayed out page were enticed to click on more content thanks to that preview - and without that preview they now grab their nice, high-res, hotlinked image and go upon their merry way.

Adam Buchanan

02/26/2013 04:27 pm

I don't manage any sites that rely on image search traffic, but just from my own user experience, I wondered if this was the case.


02/26/2013 04:29 pm

Fair point, I hadn't considered bounce rate stats etc. What is your definition of "high res" ... just curious how people come to take high res images (my definition of high res is say 1000+ pixels upwards)

Wendy Bauer Piersall

02/26/2013 04:30 pm

THANKS for writing about this again Barry. The commenters who are focusing on conversions are ignoring more than half the web that is monetized by advertising instead of sales. Overall, my sites lost about 200,000 page views over the last month, which for me is approximately a $1000 loss, and it actually seems to be getting gradually even worse. I've given up on giving away free images on my vintage art blog, and instead have opened up a Zazzle store. So much for 'better for users'.

Wendy Bauer Piersall

02/26/2013 04:40 pm

I make printable worksheets/coloring pages, so high res means big enough to print - 680x880 are the dimensions I use. Clearly, that's not a really big image, but compared to half that size, it's the difference between being able to actually use the worksheet or not. Also, I have a right-click mechanism that deterred 90% of theft of my high res images in the past - and the ease of circumventing those protections is also taking a toll. :(


02/27/2013 02:36 am

What Google made a change and everyone but Google lost traffic? OMG what a revelation! Google has never done anything like that before!


02/27/2013 07:09 am

Many were using Frame Breaker then.. So it was real traffic for those..;)

Flavio Bernardotti

02/27/2013 10:49 am

And not because the chrome plugin have not worked for two months for API problems ? I have not used google image for this problem.........

Gabriel Sita

02/27/2013 12:13 pm

The old design was much better then the new one.


02/27/2013 01:18 pm

Even the raising of his conversion rate is a bad signal: it's not that the visitors enjoy the site and see more pages, but they need to see more pages to get what they were looking for.

Marc Winter

02/27/2013 03:06 pm

The new image search, and Google's claim (lie) that this will improve traffic for site owners, is the ultimate FU for all content creators. Not only does Google grossly violate world-wide copyright laws by displaying the full images instead of thumbnails (thus eliminating any reason to click through, a no-brainer really), they even load that image from the webmasters' servers, causing alot of cost without any payback. Is anyone really wondering why the more powerful content creators, such as European press organizations, are fighting back against Google and its blatant thief mentality? Unfortunately, the visual arts have no comparable lobby, so they are easy victims here.

Thomas Kane

02/27/2013 04:45 pm

I personally liked the old image search. Good news for paid image companies though, I bet their traffic sales might go up because of it.

Michael Merritt

02/27/2013 05:09 pm

We never had much image traffic to begin with, as a lot of our images are hosted on a cloud service, but the traffic we did have has basically disappeared. Using the dates from the image, we had only three days in the first period without any image traffic. In the second period, we had 16 days without image traffic.


02/27/2013 06:41 pm

Same end ... Google has destroyed my site life ...And seems they dont want to change at all this interface... Will it change something ? Or we are dreaming ? I didnt do any change to my site, cause i cannot believe Google is so unfair ...


02/27/2013 06:42 pm

Aha, zero sites had a minimal benefit... all complain lose of traffic superior to 50%...


02/27/2013 07:45 pm

I'm not a fan of this new redesign at all. The company I work for,, helps companies manage their online reputation and to do this, we run tracking software and this screwed us all up. Not good.

Mick Ken

02/28/2013 03:02 am

Yes, we run an image based site and our revenue has dropped for $80/day to $8/day in the last 2-3 weeks. This way it would be hard to even pay for the amazon cloud infrastructure. This is really SAD and hope Google does something quick to help all webmasters.

info gaff

02/28/2013 07:14 am

the right question is: where is that 80% looking at? It's not so simple.


02/28/2013 01:01 pm

The new Google image search is Not working as expected. קידום אתרים

Kevin Ouellette

03/03/2013 07:26 pm

Google was really short-sighted on this one. People are just going to set up their servers so all image hotlinks from Google get served alternate versions with big ugly watermarks and opacity overlays.

Vincent Dewaele

03/06/2013 07:57 am

Lost 1/4 of my traffic !? And this since the new release of Google Image Search. I thought that this would be a good thing for content providers !? ...


03/06/2013 04:49 pm

The fact that they bypass the site their getting the image from when a user clicks the View original image link is wrong. If the user clicks View original image it should go to the site the image is on, not bypass the site. In the latest antitrust case from FTC Google said "Google will stop misappropriating or scraping the content of its rivals for use of its own specialized search results," Yet, this is exactly what the View original image link does. It scrapes content and gives it to users without the user ever having to go to the "original" site the image came from. This also involves copyright infringement because the users think it's "free" and they have no option to see the original site or the user agreement from the site. If they would send the user to the "page" the image came from when they click View original image it would solve this issue.

bappa mishra

03/11/2013 03:58 am

sign this petition in


04/16/2013 10:21 am

This is theft. If a magazine or newspaper printed all the images from your website you'd sue them - I don't understand why Google is allowed to get away with this by the content owners.... but then I don't understand how YouTube isn't drowning under legal action either. Google are a law unto themselves.


04/16/2013 05:56 pm

Only good for Google's bottom line. Keep users on their properties, let blogspot steal images so they can continue to monetize that as well. Push users to Google+ in an effort to control signins, humm what else...


05/21/2013 01:13 pm

My image based site traffic went down about 80%. My non-image based site seems to have been unaffected, since I get almost no traffic from images.

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