Google Image Search traffic drops

At the end of January Google released its latest version of Google Image Search, a cleaner overall experience for the user, removing the majority of text and leaving a gallery of high quality thumbnails.

At the end of January Google released its latest version of Google Image Search, a cleaner overall experience for the user, removing the majority of text and leaving a gallery of high quality thumbnails. For the user, the new version is said to be faster as the hosting website is no longer loaded in the background. For the hosting website the load on their servers is reduced and is said to improve the accuracy of their page analytics.

Since the change, however, websites have noticed a dramatic decrease in their referrer traffic figures coming from Google Image Search.

A new study reveals that referrer traffic figures have dropped 63% on average, with some seeing falls as high as 78%. The industries that have taken the most significant hit are those that rely on a lot of visual content, including fashion and lifestyle, entertainment, news, and photo sharing sources.

Google has commented that these drops are in actual fact a result of drops in 'phantom visits' where impressions were included in visitor metrics in the previous version, even when searchers didn't click through to the website where the image is originally hosted. A number of publishers have commented that they never witnessed the supposed phantom visits in the previous version of image search.

The reality is that the new version of Google Image Search means that it has now become a two-step process for anyone wishing to visit the website where the image is originally hosted. Now with the new high quality version of the images included in the search results themselves, there is no real need for the searcher to click through to the original source.