Google Image search changes affect traffic

February 10, 2013
Andy Murphy

For the eagle eyed amongst you, you may have noticed that Google has updated the display of images in the Google Image search.

Looks nice, but what’s that got to do with me?

You’re right, this is a nice update for consumers but for website owners it may have a negative impact on traffic.

Previously, when users selected an image it pulled up the website in an iFrame in the background. This counted as a visit in the stats. Users could then look at the site the image was used on in the background which could also make for a decent lead especially as many users search for products that they don’t know the name of, by image.

When users now click on an image, they are presented with a sliding panel (see image above) where the image is displayed as a larger thumbnail . Because the website isn’t called, this means there will be one less visit to the site.

Google maintains 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.“ however there have been mutterings amongst web-masters that traffic figures have dropped off.

Ok, but how much traffic did it really drive?

Historically, well tagged images often made for a good traffic driver for websites, especially when the story had moved off the front pages.

How much effect it will have on your site depends on how many images you have and how well your site has been optimised.

Fair enough, what can I do?

Unfortunately, not that much. The change looks like its here to stay. Its worth keeping an eye on traffic directed from Google Image searches and traffic overall in case you see a drop.

Its also worth bearing in mind if you are planning a campaign which relies heavily on images.

More information can be found here:

Google Webmaster Tools Central

Tags: BS-Free, digital,

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