Confirmed: Google Image Search Update Impacts Traffic Data

Google images

Last week, we reported that webmasters and SEOs saw huge declines in Google image search traffic specifically from international versions of Google – i.e. not the US. Well, it turns out the speculation was right.

The issue was assigned to Google bringing over the 2013 image search design to Germany and France and potentially other countries. When the design change hit the US market 4 years ago, webmaster complained but Google told them it is better for you now than before.

In short, Google said the traffic you thought you were getting in the old design was not real traffic. It wasn’t someone clicking over to your site. So now that this new interface rolled out to other countries, they are experiencing this huge traffic drop as well – or what appears to be a huge traffic drop.

Google updated the data anomalies page from what we first saw to specifically call out Germany and France, saying:

The design and behavior of Google image search results was standardized to match the design and behavior in all other locations. As a result, there may be an adjustment in click counts for image search result data for searches from Germany and France.

A Google spokesperson also told me Google has “recently rolled out the updated UI for Image Search to some other countries.”

They would not tell me why they waited 4 years between the US roll out and this roll out. They also wouldn’t tell me what other countries were impacted but it seems like it is only Germany and France?

Join the discussion…

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    Our French-based sites have been hit hard by this update, and it isn’t anything in the like of statistical adjustement of click count, it’s the disappearance of Google Image as an entry point ! Conversion losses, income losses… Great.

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    The Dutch version of Google has also been hit. At least a 80% drop in Google images traffic.

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    Having a website in French for more than 10 years. Very stable traffic for many years, never had any trouble with Penguin or Panda….
    After this Image search update in France, traffic down 50%…. Average revenue down 30%….

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    All German publisher (and everyone else) can sign my petition against the new image search and the abuse of power in the Google universe. Thanks!…

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    I see a drop in traffic from images in Poland too

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    I bet they delayed the rollout to other countries because of antitrust issues. Taking someone elses images and keeping the traffic those images get is probably a big no no in some countries where Google has not paid of legislators. Maybe Google’s lobbying arm has bribed enough politicians in the other countries to not fear antitrust investigations?

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      I think they know it’s coming (the EU case). Just like anything in the EU though it takes too long. Google are on a scorched earth policy now. Rape & pillage as much as they can from the system until the system makes them stop.

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    I almost went out of business thanks to the image search change in 2013. I still have not recovered to my former income levels. In no reality was that change “better” for anyone except for Google.

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      I’d like to know how receiving fake clicks in your analytics (which weren’t people actually visiting your site) not appearing in the analytics anymore nearly put you out of business…..

      The only thing I can think of is if you were selling advertising based on those visits to your site….. as those visits didn’t actually happen (someone seeing your image on the google search page would be seen as a hit on your page), counting them as hits for advertising would be fraudulent as they never saw the advert anyway.

      Or am I missing something…

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        Read this as you seem to be hard of thinking.…

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          So basically, all the webmasters need to do is block the high res images in robots.txt and then put up low-res replacements that aren’t blocked with similar alt text if they wanted exactly the same thing.

          Also it sounds far better for searchers (Google’s customers) to be able to get the image directly without having to go to the website if they don’t want.

          Its not that difficult for webmasters who don’t want their high res images to appear in search to get them to not appear.

          So basically Google have made the service better for their customers (searchers).

          Also the vast majority of people searching are unlikely to be specifically after a high-res version so I doubt that would have a massive affect on most sites unless they specifically sell high-res images….. and most of these sites only provide water-marked versions publicly anyway so it doesn’t make any real difference to them.

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            As you seem to have declined to answer & re-iterate.

            Think about offers super markets run, eg, cheap beer. They give it away at cost because it gets you in the store where there is a good chance you will buy something else. In a webmasters case, a good chance you will interact either BUYING something or SEEING AN AD that earns the webmaster money. That has been taken away.

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              Thats nice….. how is it Google’s problem or fault.

              Using your analogy, its like having a go at the supermarket for not paying the beer maker enough despite that meaning they would have to put the price up for their customers.

              Google’s customers are the searchers. Website are the products/suppliers.

              It’s google’s job to look after the searchers not the supplier.

              This is where the problem comes in, you are trying to claim Google have some responsibility towards the webmaster. Given they have ZERO responsibility towards webmasters they bend over backwards to help them and provide tools/information to help them.

              If searchers prefer to be able to download the image directly from the webpage without visiting the site, then it would be wrong for Google to not give them that option. As already mentioned there are many ways the website owner can easily protect the hi-res one if they want so it doesn’t appear in Google.

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                It’s Google’s job to make money, with zero regulation. Just about the only utility (as that is what the Internet has now become) is regulated. When Google get’s regulated (which it sure will) it will have no choice other than to act with some responsibility. Where do you think Google would be without websites? Do you think people just tinker away in bedrooms making websites for Google to plunder at will? The irony here is it is YOU who thinks things should be available for NOTHING, not the webmasters who get raped by Google. What is your business

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          “we run an image based site and our revenue has dropped for $80/day to $8/day in the last 2-3 weeks. This way it would be hard to even pay for the amazon cloud infrastructure. This is really SAD and hope Google does something quick to help all webmasters.”

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            Again, what makes you think the site is entitled to get that level of traffic consistently from Google?

            Why are you relying on organic search for 90+% of your revenue?

            Why is Google to blame for your bad business choices when they explicitly warned you not to rely on organic search?

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              In your haste to reply you’ve yet again made yourself look stupid. Did you miss the quote marks? That was a quote from elsewhere, not me. I don’t run an image site. If I did I’d be pretty pissed off that Google feels oblivious to copyright law. Do you work for their PR or something? What makes you think Google is entitled to share other peoples work for no compensation?

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                No, I realised that, since you quoted it without attribution you could have been quoting yourself, either way I was replying to the quote regardless of who wrote it.

                If you share a image publicly, then fair-use applies which includes showing it in search since you also have a means to block it via robots.txt
                You can also share water-marked versions of the images as well instead of the full image….

                Basically the complaint is people are too lazy to protect their own copyright so want Google to do it for them. There are lots of image sites who don’t have any problems because they are set-up properly.

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                  Here are 2 photos for visitors from image—google—organic and image—google—fr—-referral.

                  This website sells the kind of products of minority interest, small niche. So we had around 200-400 visitors every day. Not a lot, but for this particular niche, it was not too bad.

                  For image—google—organic….. we had en average more than 2 minutes of session duration, now that part of visitors are all gone. One important thing: it is normal that for 2 minutes people only visit 4 pages, because people need to read and understand our products (it is not like some clothing websites where people can click a photo and add to cart, easy and quick).

                  We highly doubt that all the people who spend 2 minutes en average on our website are fake.

                  Plus, you know we have kind of habit to watch the real-time traffic Analytics, for hours. I am pretty sure that I have seen a lot for traffic from image search stayed and clicked the sign up page…

                  Maybe, some of them are fake, like google said, but not all of them, it’s impossible.

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    Data anomalies page says February 7th… isn’t that the day that the tin-foil hat crowd was saying was a Google Hates Small Businesses Update?


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