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Does Google Image use file creation date to determine "original" version?

     
2:13 pm on Apr 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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For the past few years I've been scratching my head as to why my original images are sometimes being replaced in the Google Image SERPs by infringing versions. My reasoning was how can my version that used to rank #1 disappear and be usurped by what must be a newer, copied version.

Yesterday, I had an idea as to one possible explanation on how Google might determine the "original" - file creation dates. This would be bad news for me as I upgrade server every couple of years so my file-creation dates are currently only a few months old.

Whilst this is obviously a deeply flawed metric, does anybody think it is a possible factor?
5:29 pm on Apr 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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does anybody think it is a possible factor?


I have thousands of images that have been copied over the past 20 years and especially so since 2000. Most of mine all have their original 2000 year date on them yet I still get bounced out many a time by Google's extremely flawed system.

In fact only just this week an image I have had on both the SERPs and Image SERPs page in the first four positions since 2005 has been replaced by a much smaller, badly compressed ebay seller copy. Mine has totally disappeared!

Pi$$ed off, you bet I am, G hasn't a clue and simply does not care, their image SERPs, in general, are a pathetic joke. The quantity of incorrectly labelled images is beyond comprehension, if I were to do that nothing would rank however chuck up a poxy blogger account and you'll rank for almost anything immediately.

Google has absolutely no comprehension of the meaning of quality.
2:50 pm on Apr 21, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Mine has totally disappeared!


And today has returned with the ebay one not in sight...wtf!
11:56 am on Apr 22, 2015 (gmt 0)

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does anybody think it is a possible factor?

Do you mean the actual EXIF date? I don't think it is a possible factor. Otherwise it would be extremely easy to game the system. Just write a script that executes daily and uses 'Mogrify' to update the EXIF date to today's date and voil - rankings guaranteed :D

I remember I did a few tests with stock photos a while ago and I think I came to a conclusion that the surrounding text and the page layout were the two main factors. Not sure if this is still the case, hopefully someone will chip in with more up-to-date findings.

I don't think Google can assign any bonus points for "originality" of images, otherwise it would have to penalise everyone using stock images.

If you compare the "offending" page with your page, can you honestly say that your page is the most relevant result?

Mind you, DMCA applies to images as well. If the number of images is high and you predict you're losing decent amount of traffic because of the stolen images (i.e. evaluating the likelihood of Google Image Search sending you enough traffic to want to bother) then you should definitely file DMCAs.
1:00 pm on Apr 22, 2015 (gmt 0)

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then you should definitely file DMCAs.


There's not a lot of point when the biggest thief by far is Google itself. They took 80+% of my image traffic and I know I'm not the only one.
7:23 am on Apr 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I came to a conclusion that the surrounding text and the page layout were the two main factors...

I agree, based on many test searches and occasional semi-systematic observation over the years, but I'm sure there are some other strong factors as well. For certain kinds of images, image file names and the alt attribute may play a part. Depends on how hard up Google is for clues. Worth noting that "alt" text has been badly misused, and its ranking value for images probably comes and goes.

I should add that I've seen Google get an image wrong in one of the upper right hand Knowledge Graph entity results, for a local cultural/ tourist attraction. I found that the error apparently stemmed from a mislabeled image in a fancy web lifestyle magazine, which had an article all about some other place in town with a similar name, but incorrectly illustrated with this image. The image itself was perhaps the best photographed shot of the place in Image Search, so it received a lot of attention there. I assume that the misidentification (not uncommon for this particular place), coupled with the popularity of the website that published it, led to the KG problems... but the mistake was fairly common in Image Search.

For me, the search served as a navigational search that I used frequently enough that it was easy for me to watch the KG results. I let the image sit for a couple of months in KG before I reported the mistake... and it took Google another month to correct it in the KG.

I hadn't looked at it in Image Search for a long time, where I now see that what appears to be the same image is still ranking for the wrong term (coincidentally, I'd bet), but it's now ranking for a different site, which also misidentifies it. The image is appearing on both sites, but only one copy is ranking.

Getting back to the creation date, the file date is changed when I download the image, so it's basically not possible to observe how Google might see that date.

I'm thinking that the first instance I saw of the image had to be older than the current one, though, as the current ranking copy of the image has dimensions and file size quite a bit smaller than the first, so may have been downloaded and reduced. I'm not sure that all this tells us much, except that there are a lot of variables.
8:38 am on Apr 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's not so much the image search algorithm that perplexes me, it's the way a top ranking image for many years can suddenly be replaced by an infringing copy on some spammy site.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it thinking Google actually care which was the 'original' version
3:43 pm on May 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If Google were to take the file date into account, it would undoubtedly conflict with a webmaster's optimization of legacy images for responsive mobile design.

For example, during my own responsive optimization efforts, pictures of 100-150 kb were flagged by Google's Page Speed Insights tool as too large for optimum loading time. Consequently, I re-ran the photos through an image program and increased jpeg compression to reduce the file size to about 25 kb. Of course, this process re-tagged the photo with a 2015 file date, blowing away the original file date of say, 2001.

Whether anyone at Google has thought about the above issue is anyone's guess, but to believe that they use file date as a ranking factor for an original image in a sea of counterfeits is unrealistic.

BTW, because of scrapers, I have removed over 95% of my photos. It was no longer worth the anguish of seeing them stolen.
4:38 pm on May 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Policing original images would cost Google money, and that's why I don't think they care what the original is. Also, EXIF information may or may not be retained if it's processed through image editing software depending on software used and settings.
12:09 am on May 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Until there is an effective, reliable, and verifiable DRM embed in images that ties the DISPLAY of image to a specific domain/url, and one that also provides a semi-useless thumbnail for image search, this infringement churn will continue to happen and the moans will continue to groan.

create dates and modify dates are two different things. Yet, it is all to easy to change either one so I can see how g turns a blind eye in that regard as there is no way to verify WHICH is the original image! Heck, I've done that accidentally on my own system, so I know these things can happen. Meanwhile, as we all know: Once on the Web....
1:06 am on May 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I remember once I got frustrated at youtube blocking a song with a video, so I used a text editor to edit the mp3 copyright info. I'm sure the same thing is possible with images.
6:09 am on May 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's not so much the image search algorithm that perplexes me, it's the way a top ranking image for many years can suddenly be replaced by an infringing copy on some spammy site.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it thinking Google actually care which was the 'original' version


Google does not care at all about hard working publishers. They are only interested in making money.
It is perplexing to see how my images suddenly show up on spam sites with thousands of stolen images with bogus/scraped text and AdSense ads allover the place. The bogus text alone that doesn't make sense at all should raise a flag and penalize the website. Remember Panda? This indicates how weak Google's algo actually is. It can not detect fake text and copied photos.

These websites with stolen content don't rank on Bing. Conclusion: Bing is better at detecting the original owner!
 

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