Study: Google Image Search Referrer Traffic Drops 63% Since Upgrade
Overall, sites in the study saw an average decline of 63% of their traffic from Google Image Search. Industries hit the hardest, according to the report, were Fashion & Lifestyle, Entertainment, News and Photo verticals seeing about a 78% decline in Google Image Search traffic.
Google will likely say the decline is due to a decline in “phantom visits” where publishers counted impressions in the old design even when the searcher did not click through from Google to the website. When we asked the founder of Define Media Group, Marshall Simmonds, he said “we actually never saw any instance of the ‘phantom visit’ phenomenon and none of the publishers we work with and data we reviewed revealed evidence of it occurring.”
The 78% high and 63% average is not far off from what I’ve heard from other publishers. Shortly after the change, I’ve heard from many publishers about the decline in image search traffic from Google.
Here is a chart from the Define Media Group study:
Here is image search traffic by industry:
Let me be clear, your image SEO had no recourse on the downgrade in traffic. The way the new image search works, where you have to explicitly click “visit website” to see the image has changed from the old design to the new.
Here is the old interface, which loads the website in the background:
Here is the new interface, which does not load the original site in the background:
Have you seen a huge decline in your Google Image Search traffic? If so, let us know by how much in the comments.
Postscript: A Google spokesperson has sent us a statement:
As we’ve noted before, there are no more phantom visits and actual CTR to webmaster pages, i.e. real traffic, is up 25%, so real visits are up. As you know, we doubled the way users can reach the host website.