Google Launches Streamlined Image Search

Like how Google Image Search works on a tablet? Good news, then. That simplified experience is coming to Google Images on the desktop.

Out With The Old

Currently, viewing an image through Google Image Search is a multistep process. You do the search, see several images and can hover to get a slightly larger thumbnail:

nasa earth - Google Image Search

If you want to see a larger version of the image, you have to click on the image, which brings up a bigger version superimposed over the actual web page the image is from:

Google Image Search close-up

In With The New

With the new system that’s coming out today, selecting an image after a search brings up the larger version in a central preview area:

This makes it easy to quickly skim through multiple images, rather than the existing system that requires a lot of clicking, then closing windows to go back and select a new image.

Fewer Publisher Visits? Phantom Visits?

The change also suggests that fewer people may visit the actual pages hosting the images, which might be a concern to publishers. Anticipating this, Google’s post about the change says that it has added new ways to reach the image owner’s site that supposedly increase visits:

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 our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.

When talking to Google about the change, I was also told that by not loading the hosting page, Google is no longer generating “phantom” visits that were a concern to some publishers, one of the biggest complaints Google said it heard from publishers about Google Images.

“That was causing problems for some webmasters, and so we thought we can do away with that. That’s gone now,” said Pierre Far, a webmaster trends analyst with Google. This, along with new options to reach publisher sites, is “a net win for webmasters,” he said.

Of course, publishers who might not feel this is a net win have an easy solution. They can block Google from indexing their images with just two lines in a robots.txt file, as Google covers here.

When do you get the new look? Google says it is rolling out live now worldwide and should be available to everyone over the coming days.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Features: Analysis | Google: Images | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Cindy Krum

    I use image search almost once a day, so I have been getting the new layout sometimes already. I dig it! Way better in my opinion.

  • Joe Tierney

    Love it! Thanks for the heads up Danny.

  • Alan

    Google image search : stealing other peoples content for fun and profit.

  • Abhisshack D

    so does the Bing, Yahoo, ask , and countless other image search engines

  • Alan

    since 2001?

  • Abhisshack D

    does it really matters when or who start it first ???!!!!

  • Blockbuster Diva

    Well…otherwise there’s mostly no way for people to get to the images in the first place. It has become necessary that they do this.

  • Mahmoud El Magdoub

    This design is much better, I have some ideas to make it even more awesome. Like adding “Download original image” and “Copy original image to clipboard” buttons.

    And others, check out my ideas here: and let me know what you think.

  • Kaan Akın
  • snar

    Danny you fail to mention that this is exactly along the lines of what Bing already has and that google is following

  • JakeThePlummer

    Bing/MSN have been doing it since 2004
    Yahoo have been doing it since at least 2004

    Just because Google did it earlier and better, doesn’t mean they should be reviled for it.

    If the sites don’t want their pictures up, they can block the crawler from indexing them.

  • Wetware.

    ask have been around longest out of that list.
    not sure how long they’ve done images for, though.

  • Wetware.

    this ui is more similar to the new itunes library ui.

  • Wetware.

    * one-click access to the full-resolution image.
    that’s all i want.

  • Alan

    They could send to the page that owns the image like they send to the site in normal search. You don’t understand that?

  • Ashley Pearson

    This is a good idea for the Phantom visits. I don’t like them because they load all my ads, but obviously they don’t get clicked, losing CTR and therefore revenue.

    Its bad because people are unlikely to click that Visit Site button if the image already shows them what they need, which in most cases it does.

  • daveintheuk

    Good for users, great for Google, bad for publishers.

    This is not their content to do with what they like.

  • Miracle

    I’ll watermark all image when traffic from google.

  • Josh

    Oh. Just link Bing… Cute.

  • fredrikstai

    I remember image-searching on Fast (pre-Google search engine) back in 2000.

  • Bryan SEO

    This is very cool! Good work Google!

  • Nebojsa Lukic

    You are asshole!

  • Nebojsa Lukic

    Today my image traffic drop down min 30%!!! and this is “good for webmasters”???

  • Nebojsa Lukic

    Father, forgive them, because they “don’t know” what they’re doing…to all webmasters!

  • Movie Carpet

    Similar here

  • Movie Carpet

    If you know where you need to click!

  • Movie Carpet

    They need to keep that only on ipad

  • Movie Carpet

    Yandex Steal images so Google do same now

  • Movie Carpet

    Yeah..They Need button “SUCK ALL INTERNET on GOOGLE”

  • Movie Carpet

    Knife In webmasters heart!

  • Wetware.

    on the image you want?

  • Movie Carpet

    2 times on same image? How much “basic” users will do that? They now cut image traffic to websites 90%

  • Durant Imboden

    Add two lines to robots.txt:

    User-agent: Googlebot-Image
    Disallow: /

    Problem solved.

  • Movie Carpet

    that is same like put your finger in Mike Tyson eye! Google will then smash you all know that..and all know that they are monopoly

  • Movie Carpet

    Also tell me what wallpaper webmasters need to do now? Smart guy

  • Movie Carpet

    That was best for both sides

  • OffTheLows

    The comments here seem to range from people who are, and are not, publishers. Yes, you can disallow googlebot, but the feeling about the etiquette of image search for years has always been thumbnail images on your own server and link to the original, not scrape the full sized image in a localized popup and provide some links if the user bothers to click twice. If the internet monopoly that is google takes measures to host publisher content locally, eventually there will be virtually no publisher content left for google to host locally.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Image search dates back to at least 1997 with AltaVista. Google was far from the first to start it.

  • Blogs Daddy


  • Gregory Smith

    Google image search will always be a scrapers/spammers paradise.. So , so sad!

  • John Bossi

    Mein Gott! You’re a boor. I’m sure you’ve never used any of Google’s features you rebel you.

  • Arrianna Johnson

    It appears that we can no longer click “Similar To” under images in the search. This disappoints me greatly.

  • Alan

    I am not sure why this has turned into a debate about who did it first. I never said Google did it first. I just said they started in 2001.

  • sanket patel

    Google search features are very useful and convenient. The benefit of Google’s streamlined image that, Google build the image search features does not automatically load the hosting pages for people who only expect to view full size images. It most avenue to add more emphasis on image advertising for clickable targets in google search.

  • sanket patel

    Google search features are very useful and convenient. The benefit of Google’s streamlined image that, Google build the image search features does not automatically load the hosting pages for people who only expect to view full size images. It most
    avenue to add more emphasis on image advertising for clickable targets
    in google search.

  • dhaliwal82

    google stealing images. its simply scraping.

    i would now have to think of some way to copy their site and let them sue me :D. Once they sue me, i would present my point in the court.

  • Movie Carpet

    you are not right..they now send 30% down clicks to websites..they keep users on google

  • Jibran Jamshed

    this is bad

    google is using its monopoly and causing lot of problems for webmasters

  • MiciROX

    I’m not sure what’s your problem or why you’re implying that I don’t understand. Just saying that I don’t think Google is “stealing” like you’re accusing them of, they’re just trying to make things a little more convenient. You can boycott Google image search for all I care.

  • Alan

    Making things more convenient by stealing your content and making billions from it. Pointless debate Google fanboys never see the other side.

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