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