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Google image search - Why you may have lost traffic

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by bigbong, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. bigbong

    bigbong Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I'm copying a post I wrote under a thread called "Visitors decline" (with some minor additions). First off all a message to the Mods: if this is a violation of the site guidelines I apologize - please delete this thread. I am copying it over as a separate thread for two reasons 1) the old thread started as a general discussion about a site losing visitors and that makes this bit of info hard to find and 2) I really think this is a big deal that webmasters need to be aware of.

    Google recently made some major changes to their image search. There has been a few post on this forum about the change (one by R0meo at least), but surprisingly little discussion. Online in general though, there is quite a bit of an outcry. What Google has basically done is to replace what was possibly justifiable under so called "fair use" as an image search engine with thumbnails, with effectively the world largest private online gallery. Basically they are taking millions of copyright protected images, scraping them off the net and placing them in their own online gallery, making a fortune in the process.

    Google has been through the courts many times before because of their previous image gallery search function, and many cases are still pending. Google has so far managed to defend themselves against injunctions because it was seen as likely that the use was "fair use" (even though Google lost a number of district court cases).

    I am not so sure their amended image gallery will be able to survive similar court cases. Their new Google image search function does not link a click on a thumbnail to the original site. Instead it opens a large version of the image inside the Google image search in the style of an online gallery. That, in my opinion, is stealing and hardly constitute fair use. This will also explain why traffic to your sites may be down. While Google used to show the thumbnail and then open the original website with an enlarged version of the image on top of it, now it simply shows you the full image with a small button saying "click to see the website". That would explain why many people generating referral visits from Google images now have lost nearly all that traffic. It is not so bad if your own use of the image is under "fair use" or from free databases such as Wiki commons - but imagine that you are the photographer and original copyright holder. Google is now effectively withholding traffic that you used to get in return for their use of your images. Or imagine, as is the case for many of my sites, you have paid royalties for the use of the images - Google is now, for free under the pretense of "fair use", letting you pay the fees for the use of the images and then copying them into their own gallery without neither paying nor sending any traffic to you. And the best part is that they don't actually host the images, so they are also stealing your bandwidth.

    Hopefully some greedy law firm specializing in copyright class actions will eventually pick up on this like someone once did on the Google book search. In general I do not dislike Google, but this is just stealing and no other website would get away with it. Imagine that you copied all the images you found online and made your own gallery, just with a small link saying "click here to see the website I stole this from". You'd have you ass sued so bad you would have to stand for the rest of your life.

    Until Google has to go back to a variation of their old image search (2025 if we are lucky), all you can basically do is to block Google from indexing your images. But of course that won't replace the traffic you've lost. Possibly some dev wiz here can come up with a way of allowing Google to index the images and generate thumbnails, but block Google from displaying the full image in their own gallery window. I am not sure if there are referrer indications that can be picked up and used to display a big banner saying "Google is stealing images, visit www.here.com to see this image instead"...

    Again I apologize for the near duplicate posts, but I feel very strongly about this and also a lot of the confusion re the Jan Google web search updates and the loss of traffic discussed on many threads here and elsewhere, may partly be due to people losing image search related traffic (they happened at nearly the same time).
     
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    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  2. thetraveller

    thetraveller Senior Member

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    I lost too more than half of my traffic on an image-type site, so now I'm looking for a kind of script like the old href redirect, but I guess this time they do it so it cant be passed.
     
  3. Bonsubus

    Bonsubus Newbie

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    Nice thought
     
  4. thetraveller

    thetraveller Senior Member

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    There's nothing nice about it..
     
  5. lakim0

    lakim0 BANNED BANNED

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    I have a good image traffic on my sites
     
  6. thetraveller

    thetraveller Senior Member

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    Traffic from G? If so then you should check the stats, it may be down after the new image search update.
     
  7. dreballer

    dreballer Newbie

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    BigBong,

    Thanks for the information relating to the recent update by Google Images. I was building a site that was geared towards "hopefully" pulling traffic from their image search, guess it's time to scrap that!
     
  8. bigbong

    bigbong Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Also check how that traffic interacts. 80% of the people who actually visit your site (and that it self is now just 30% or so of what it used to be with the old style image search) will opt for "View original image". That is basically wasted traffic since they will just go directly to your image file. No ads, no menus, no links. Just bandwidth theft.

    The latter "View original image" problem should be possible to amend with a change to .htaccess file though. You should be able to redirect direct hit on images (by file extension or folder location) to a dedicated page showing the image inside your normal page layout (/showimg.php?image=blahblah).

    If anyone is better at .htaccess redirects than me, I would appreciate some suggestions as it would save me much time :)
     
  9. kasheshe

    kasheshe Regular Member

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    I was wondering why my traffic from google images just dropped. I just checked it out and to be honest, a lot of users would rather click on view original image than go to the site where the image came from. So does this mean that all our content belongs to google? Or are they saying that it's ok to scrape other people's websites and leave minimal attribution?
     
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  10. IMpossible

    IMpossible Supreme Member

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    Looks like Big G is trying to f**k everybody up. Man, this sucks...
     
  11. bigbong

    bigbong Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I have asked my developers to make a WP (I use Wordpress for most of my sites) image redirect plugin for non on site referrers. Direct hits from off site on images will redirect to show the image full size or scaled inside the blog instead, with option to popup full size. It should at least recover some of the traffic that clicks on "view original". I presume Google would still be able to spider through the site since the referrer will be from on site sources (?).

    Will make available to BHW members when complete.

    EDIT: May after some discussion internally have to add a list of accepted external referrers to allow Googlebot crawler to index images but still not allow images to be accessed directly from google search pages. Will release a beta so we all can test to see what works best.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  12. IMpossible

    IMpossible Supreme Member

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    Looking forward on this one. :)
     
  13. thehighmind

    thehighmind Regular Member

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    Yeah, I lost half of my traffic. I have 2 websites with images. What can be done? Are there any ways to make my websites more viral because all my traffic comes from google.
     
  14. 0scan0

    0scan0 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Good reflection "bigbong" Your analysis regarding the legal aspect is correct and impressing.
    I have a master in Law and can clearly see that this will lead to a lot of problems for G.

    Do you perhaps study or practice law?
     
  15. bigbong

    bigbong Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Had my own practice for years and still do international tax and cross-border corporate formation and restructuring. So copyright law is hardly my specialty. But I recognize theft when I feel a clammy hand grabbing for my wallet in my inside pocket.
     
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  16. 0scan0

    0scan0 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    I see, sounds great. I have a master in International tax law, mainly EU tax law.
    Haha yeah, agree.
     
  17. ajithrocksca

    ajithrocksca Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    what can we expect from a blood sucking monster. Image traffic reduced to 20% of what it used to be. Google making money out of webmasters.. Now I would not share my images with google. If I am not getting any money (or even junk traffic) from google, then why would I share my images with it?
     
  18. hadoken

    hadoken Regular Member

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    I was looking at stats of one of my sites and wondering why traffic dropped. I went to Google images to search for something else and was like wtf is this. Now who is going to go to my site if they just got the image without the ads. Blah. Thanks for stealing bandwidth. Thanks for posting this. Like bigbong, im searching for a solution for this.

    http://www.seroundtable.com/google-images-protest-16283.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
  19. ivanpenev

    ivanpenev Regular Member

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    Waiting for what bigbong's team is developing. From 5k+ impressions I am getting only a few visits, that sucks and it sucks double time for people who rely a lot on traffic from images, my 5k are nothing.
     
  20. Gogol

    Gogol Elite Member

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    That is something that I have been a victim of, too :(
    I thought I am the only one who is facing it, but no!! This version of image search should be taken down immediately!!