Google Images Redesign Generates Controversy

Google recently announced having redesigned Google Images in order to “provide a better search experience”. When making the changes, the search giant took into considerations feedback from both users and webmasters. With the new version, users can flip through images using only their keyboards, and are allowed to see detailed information about the image (the metadata) in the lower part of the photo.

Google Images search screenshot

Google Images search screenshot

Additional information for each photo, such as the title of the page hosting the image, the domain name it comes from, and the image size was also and added feature. But Google also made another important change, and I quote:

“The domain name is now clickable, and we also added a new button to visit the page the image is hosted on. This means that there are now four clickable targets to the source page instead of just two.”

In the same official announcement, they added that “In our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.”

Now,  from the reactions this change got from various bloggers it looks as if Google’s announced changes aren’t exactly like that. In fact, quite the opposite, with the traffic from image searches is decreasing severely, as some bloggers say. While on the other hand, some argue that not showing the photo while loading the initial website in the background is a good thing, because before traffic data wasn’t correct for obvious reasons, as those loads weren’t in fact visits to see the content of a site.

Bing Image Search screenshot

A so obvious Bing influence on Google’s development

I admit that when I’m looking for an image for an article, I’m not searching it on Google Images, but on sites providing photos – paid or for free. I want to see the article for context, for one thing to avoid using copyrighted images for my articles. You see even though Google Images does mention pictures may be copyrighted, it’s still very easy to use them improperly. So, who’s to know if the original site is the one where the images resides?

The old system included the website for the photo, this gave me the opportunity to see if it is only that photo included, or has some text in which case I would choose to see the original website. Now, it’s all a hazard, as users cannot see the original article, even if in the background. It is true though that not many people use Internet like I do, and that many stop at the photo and don’t want to visit the original site. But then again, there are many writers doing the work we do, many.

Google Images’ new design looks a bit closer to the Bing one for me. That search engine offers thumbnails for the photo and when a user clicks on them first it is loaded on Bing, then in several seconds, they are redirected to the original site. In this way, if the users wait for those seconds they are redirected to the source of the image which also generates default traffic for that site/blog.

It appears Google has another small or big crisis on their hands, this one hammering home the saying; “You can’t please everybody.” Aside this the world’s leading search company may get called “copy-cat” or worse. :)

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