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:
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:
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.