In January this year Google changed how it presented its image search results (www.images.google.com). While these changes made for a more pleasing presentation of images it now turns out it has altogether less pleasing results. Instead of sending clients to the website where the image is hosted and potentially sold it now shows visitors a preview without leaving Google images. This means less traffic for image websites.
Now some of the traffic perhaps should never have gone to those sites in the first place as Google Images visitors may only want to look at an image quickly and not go any further. But what about those that do want to go further? Will they understand that the image is not Google’s property and cannot be used without permission? And what about the stockphoto business and photographers that will see their traffic decline considerably as a result of these changes. Just type in the URL’s of the usual suspects on www.alexa.com to see the impact of the changes.
Many businesses and websites have been reporting significant drops in traffic recently and have been sharing their frustration:
One blogger says:
‘Let’s think about image gallery websites or wallpaper websites for example. Now clearly these guys make up a very small minority of the total number of sites on this beautiful world that we call the web. BUT, I’m using these sites as an example, since they are likely to be among the most brutally effected sites around with their entire monetisation strategies being so dependant upon the one thing which has recently been turned completely upside down.
I’d be willing to put an outside bet on a court case or class action rearing its head in the not too distant future’ http://www.johnchow.com/the-fallout-from-the-google-image-search-revamp/
It has been remarkably quiet after the first of these posts on these forums.
In the stockphoto industry there is an excellent post from Serban Anache at Dreamstime here: http://blog.dreamstime.com/2013/02/04/google-images-new-layout-how-this-impacts-photographers-and-webmasters_art38649 and there are further posts at Cepic here: http://www.cepic.org/news/blog/2013/04/when_it%E2%80%99s_time_say_no, and from Paul Melcher here: http://blog.melchersystem.com/2013/02/11/supersize-this/
Are you a business and seeing your traffic drop? Are you concerned works are orphaned? Images are shown without a license?
I think what we have here is a decision that needs discussion, attention and action as it impacts ownership, copyright as well as commercial interests from a considerable industry directly.
Please share your views and suggestions, also if you feel these changes have no negative impact. It might be time for organisations and businesses to, at the very least, let Google know what the impact is on traffic and potentially business of what may have seemed an innocent change in the user experience.