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Google: Has There Been An Image Update?

Traffic from Google Images way down

     
6:56 am on Jul 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Until recently, roughly 42% of our traffic originated from images.google.com.

Just checked right now and that number is down to 27%. We seem to have disappeared from a lot of image searches and our traffic is about a third of what it was.

Our site provides entertainment news and ORIGINAL red carpet photos that we take at various events.

On the web search side, we recently bounced back to a top 10 position on searches for the Academy Awards after months in the boonies. Is there a major upheaval/indexing going on with the image search side of Google right now?

Thanks for any insight.

12:55 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I noticed the same thing on one of my sites. We used to get gobs of Google images traffic, now a trickle. Add this to our ongoing woes in the regular SERPS and we are just about down for the count.
1:38 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have the same thing.. all my traffic from google images is gone as well.
2:17 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Just checked and after ages of the same images, (at least in my niche), G has deleted some old images and added new ones. As might be expected, relevancy is down. (Sigh) But I wasn't getting any traffic from them before. Maybe in 2008?
4:06 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I checked image search last week and found I was STILL getting traffic for stuff I'd deleted months ago.

This update was a long time coming.

4:46 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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jo image search is gone. The pictures are still there though..
5:56 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yep, we used to have over 6,000 original images in the search...now a search on our site's images only brings up 371. _371_! from 6000+

Dayo_UK

8:50 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The people who are losing images in the Google image search - have you also had problems symptons in the main search?

eg - are sites that are losing out in images also sites that have supplementals, canonical, July 27th, crawling probs in the main serps?

11:24 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I just noticed it yesterday. Completely different images are now showing up. I wouldn't say more relevant ones though, rather different ones.
11:33 am on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There may well have been an update but not very good in terms of removing images that haven't been online for a year plus on one site of mine.

I was hoping when I seen this thread that these would have gone.

They don't bring traffic but the image titles and alt text still IMO affect my regular serps by association.

12:17 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yes I see a significant change in image search results. One site I am involved in had published a great deal of new imagery which has now started appearing in the Google Images data, and has already lifted traffic to this site by around 10%, which is great news.

From the referrer data the update appears to have kicked in on Friday 21st July.

Steve

2:16 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I too lost lots of traffic from Google Images. Lets start analyzing the Google Images algorithm so that we can bounce back.

What factors does Google take into consideration for Google Images Search?

2:51 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Good call Cerebrum.

I tried to ask this question a few weeks ago but didn't get much meaningful feedback. Let's all try to stay on-topic and not get sidetracked.

In my very narrow niche, I see:

1) relevancy is WAY down
2) many old images that were on or near page one are gone
3) there seems to be a heavy reliance on blogs, as opposed to old-line media

Might I suggest that we try to see if these results are seen widely and then discuss on-page factors?

My thinking here is that if relevancy is actually down, we need to confirm it before looking at on-page factors to see if there is a reason for it.

Also, could G be turning to blogs because Yahoo, Reuters and AP images vanish after a period of time?

thoughts? Questions? Observations?

2:55 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It started for me around a week ago. I'm wondering if it's do do with image indexing.

I link small images on my pages to full size versions, and previously it was these large images that did well in image search. The same search now shows only the smaller version, which shows up lower down because image search seems to favour larger images.

I'm guessing my full size images aren't in the index at the moment.

2:59 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The people who are losing images in the Google image search - have you also had problems symptons in the main search?

eg - are sites that are losing out in images also sites that have supplementals, canonical, July 27th, crawling probs in the main serps?

Yes, my site got bitten by Big Daddy in April and sent to Supp-hell. We're an "all-original content, all the time" site that has been around for 6 years. Same sad song, second refrain.

5:14 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have to say for some keywords that I've been following, I personally seem to have images ranking higher from my site. For one particular term I went up 15 places. I haven't really done anything different. The pages are another month/year older. They are static HTML, handwritten by me. The images are a wide variety of sizes, though they are all .jpgs... Not all of them are even inline, one is only linked to, it is a higher res version of an inline image.

None of the keywords I checked returned images from my blog, though perhaps I link from the blog to the page for which the image ranks for the keyword.

I don't exactly follow very popular keywords but the images other than mine seem fine and similar to what is being indexed from my site.

Muskie

5:38 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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2-3 weeks ago google image added new images to there search also new rankings, but Im not sure if the ranking has changed again today.
5:50 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I did some more digging (in niches other than my own) and would appreciate any validation you folks can give on the following"

1) the vast majority of images seem to be jpgs as opposed to gifs. Is this what everybody is seeing?

2) a small, but noticable, number of these images point to dead links, suggesting that they were cached some time ago and are only rising to the top now because images above them have been removed.

3) the use of blogs seems to be what G goes for when there are no commercial sites to use as sources. also the relevance seems better when there is a large pool of images to draw from.

6:11 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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a small, but noticable, number of these images point to dead links,

It may be intentional, by the web site concerned, to bounce surfers arriving from Google image search. Not everyone wants their images stolen.

8:31 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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i occasionally work on a site that gets about 30% of its traffic from google images searches, two specific terms. those images still show in the current top 5 for those terms
9:09 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yes it seems that Google has updated its image index
10:09 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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cornwall,

This has ALWAYS been the case. Yahoo News, Reuters, Associated Press (AP) remove images and articles after a certain period of time. The objective of removing the images is not to prevent the images being "stolen" (there are a number of other, better ways to do this), but rather to reduce server load. If a story is several weeks old, it isn't "news" any more. "News" has to be "new", by definition.

Once a story has "aged", they take it, and the associated images, down. They don't want to waste bandwidth delivering "old" stories and images associated with those stories.

There is also a certain amount of turnover or "churn" on the Web. Sites die or are abandoned in the normal course of business. Same for individual pages and images.

While in a few cases, your theory may be valid, what I have just described seems to cover 90%+ of the images that are 404, since the web page associated with the image is usually also gone. It died a natural death.

[edited by: oaktown at 10:29 pm (utc) on July 23, 2006]

10:27 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Stef25,

This is useful to know. Thanks. Anyone else? I expect that images that got a lot of clicks stayed at the top of the index and those that did not became candidates for the ash-heap. I am just guessing! Can anyone confirm or deny?

I haven't seen a shift in the images index in quite some time. This just might be a chance to learn a little about the algo. There are a lot of people here who are way smarter than I will ever be. Let's put our heads together and learn something, rather than let it degenerate into a "my site went up" vs "my site went down" chat that goes nowhere.

1) do jpgs dominate? What's the consensus?

2)wmuser is right. Let's move forward from there, accepting that yes, the index has been updated. ianevans experience confirms it (to some degree).

3) how are the images being selected? "Alt" tags? On-page positioning? Number of clicks? Age? What?

Let's make the most of this opportunity!

11:00 pm on July 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I expect that images that got a lot of clicks stayed at the top of the index and those that did not became candidates for the ash-heap. I am just guessing! Can anyone confirm or deny?

I can blow that one out of the water - the folk complaining are the ones that were getting all the clicks. That's why they are complaining.

Your comment about different ways of identifying images is a good one though - did anyone else notice that the captions that were originally limited to alt and image name changed this year to include adjacent text and even more recently the title of the page. Certainly Google are playing around with the image search.

I still reckon they are building a new index as we've seen with search this year, and that everything will be back to normal in a few months.

12:01 am on July 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Great call vordmeister! We have lots of posters, saying they lost lots of traffic. I agree. But do they represent a pattern, or an anomaly?

OK, Let's assume (as seems reasonable) that high-click images were sent to the chopping-block. Why? This is significant (if true). Why would G delete images that were getting lots of clicks? I am NOT suggesting that G is a rational actor, rather I'm hoping that there is some reason.

We have no way of know which images in G's index were getting lots of clicks, but if we listen to the posters here, that's the case. Why?

Any ideas?

Secondly, I looked at a bunch of images at random and examined, when possible, the original pages. In many cases there was nothing in the "alt" tag to associate the image with the keyword. Is it possible that G did it by hand? I doubt this, but in some cases I don't see how else they made the connection. I'm stumped!

As for a new index, MC has made it pretty clear, I think, that we are not seeing a new index, but rather a series of tweaks and "refreshes". I have no idea what that really means, but to me, the idea that in a few weeks or even months, we will see a stable, rational index of SERPs or images seems unlikely. I think the current term is "everflux". (But I sure do hope you're right, buddy).

As for me, it is now 5 PM and 115 degrees here in Sacramento, California. I'm off to the pool. Iced-tea and tequilla anyone?

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

12:20 am on July 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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we got loads of requests if people could use images .. so I am not so sure about the usability argument.

In an indepedent seatch for a film trick, I couldn't find an image on another site anymore until i used another term, which I found after 15 minutes .. The index is now more inexact I would say. It popped up on the old term gazillions of miniformat useless movie posters.

12:40 am on July 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Not everyone can be losing ... who's gaining, and why?
4:53 am on July 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Okay...answering some of the questions posed:

We were affected by the web search for a while. For a few years we were one of the top five sites for "Academy Awards coverage". Then suddenly at the start of this year (right during awards season :-( argh) we were in the 60-100 range. Now we're in the top five again for that search and searches like toronto film festival coverage.

Our original photos do not disappear, and our coverage dates back to '97.

A photo's subject is reflected in the title, alt tag and in text immediately below the image...e.g. Jude Law at the 78th Academy Awards.

A site:mysite.com search used to reveal several thousand of our images. Now it reveals a few hundred. A lot of the thumbnails seem to point to online journals who have hotlinked our images. Those inline links don't work since we use referer based hotlink protection. (see my posting history). That's been in place for a few years, so shouldn't affect anything with Google.

11:24 am on July 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Just a question. Why are folks worrying about traffic that doesn't convert?

I couldn't care less about ranking in Google Image as I know it will never benefit my sites.

12:28 pm on July 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Harry you are right in that point, image seach dont give much, also not when you depend on banners as income.
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