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Image Search - Google dropped me to 16 images out of thousands

12:45 pm on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I run a semi-popular blogging site that has been live for 3 years now. Google shows 240,000 pages indexed from my users' blog entries, but only 16 images for the whole site:

Clearly something is up here. I have a sitemap with all of these pages, and Google knows about it. The pages themself have good titles, descriptions and text. The images have descriptive ALT tags. Gallery images are linked with descriptive text from blog entries, photo pages, etc.

Anybody have any ideas why Google would decide to remove all of these images from its image search? At one point, there were several thousand of these gallery images in the search results, and they were a substantial source of traffic. Nothing has really changed on the site since then, but Google has removed them all.

Thanks in advance for any insight you might have.

Jason Kester

[edited by: tedster at 5:53 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2008]

7:33 pm on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I know from personal experience that if a page is in the supplemental index, Google will sooner or later most likely remove that page's images from their image search index. Low PR interior pages with 0 to 1 incoming links are at great risk of having their images deindexed. The solution is to increase your home page's pagerank, make sure that interior pages are not buried too deep in directories (significantly diluting the page rank from the home page), and most importantly, get incoming links to all of the interior pages.

I have the only photos of some obscure things available on the web, but that hasn't stopped Google from deindexing those photos, and now if you do an image search for those obscure things, all you get are unrelated images (site header images, "email me", "click here", and shopping cart buttons, etc.) from higher pagerank pages and authority sites that just happen to mention that obscure thing but don't have any photos of it.

7:35 pm on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hello Jason, and welcome to the forums.

Image Search can be a mystery. One possibility is that you are searching with "moderate filtering" as your Advanced Search option. If that's so, try "no filtering" and see if your images show up.

There is a recent patent application [appft1.uspto.gov] that describes various methods of associating images with keywords. As with any patent, we cannot know for sure whether it is in use, or to what degree. But there are methods described in here that go far beyond on-the-page factors.

Here's another recent discussion that may also give you food for thought: Google Image Search traffic: Size does matter [webmasterworld.com]

8:07 pm on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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As Tedster said, check to see if you're being excluded for moderated searches. We had this happen with one site as apparently it was deemed "mature".
2:21 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for that. I did in fact have that safe filter in place in Google, but removing it didn't return any more results.

I should note that the initial numbers I posted here were incorrect. It's actually about 300 images that are indexed at the present, out of about 15,000 photos on the site.

Most of the interior pages, including the gallery pages themselves, are relatively low PR, so that could have an impact. It might also explain why most of the seach results are thumbnail images, which are linked from the PR5 homepage.

Thanks again for the help!

4:25 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Image search confuses me too. My photo gallery pages drop in and out of image results with no particular pattern but the same pages will resopond well on normal search.

So a photo of a "red widget" will often not be found in image search but a normal web search will return the photo gallery page often far better placed in the SERPS than it deserves. These pages are not normally updated once created.

11:52 am on Mar 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This is very interesting timing. I've been poring over this years traffic referral stats, and lo and behold, on or about the 11th of Feb 2008 all of my google image traffic dropped to next to nothing!

This happened on 10 different websites that I manage that are on different servers, with different domains, and no html changes on the majority of the sites. In particular, nothing to do with alt tags or images.

I wonder if google images is just re-shuffling again? I've seen it happen before. But this 0 traffic is a killer! Admittedly google image traffic doesn't convert as well, but it does convert once in a while.