Take Notice! SEO Experts Assert That Image Search Is Back in a Big Way

Another Big Change from Google Leads to Big Changes in Image SEO

Do you use Google image search? Did you notice something changed in March of this year? A visit button has been added, allowing you to go directly to the page of the website where the image displayed in Google results is shown. If you are a publisher or contributor of images, this could mean good news for you in terms of image SEO and traffic to your website.

Why Did Google Add the Visit Button?

The reason behind the change was a lawsuit lobbed against Google by Getty Images. The complaint, filed in 2016, was made as a result of the inequity caused by changes made to the search engine’s Image Search function in 2013. During that time period, Google had added a “View Image” link to the browser’s image search results. This link enabled users to view website images they found during online searches, but without being led to the original sites from which the images were culled.

This link function may have been convenient for users, but it certainly wreaked havoc on the SEO of the sites that made the images possible. The link made it possible for users to simply download images they found during image searches, instead of obtaining permission from various publishers or even visiting their websites.

Putting an End to the Inequity

In 2016, Getty Images fought back against this overwhelming inequity. Getty’s complaint was filed with the European Union, shedding light on the fact that Image Search, as it was then, was promoting a culture of piracy in the context of finding
images online. As Getty Images’ general counsel Yoko Miyashita pointed out, by making images freely and easily downloadable for users, Google was negatively affecting Getty’s contributors, as well as the livelihoods of artists across the globe.

Satisfying Both Entities

In 2018, a deal was struck between both of these major online entities. Google will now receive a multi-year license, allowing it to use Getty’s images in Google products. In return, Google removed the Image Search link from the results of image searches. Also, the search engine agreed to make copyright attribution more visible, and the Search by Image button has also been eliminated.

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What does all this mean for users, publishers, and artists?

Users will still have the capacity to search for images online, but downloading those images without permission will no longer be easily accomplished as a result of an image search. Artists and publishers will once again stand a better chance of being fairly recognized for their contributions. This also restores the possibilities for publishers who wish to leverage image SEO.

What does this mean for SEO?

If you, like may website owners and online marketers, had abandoned image SEO best practices, it’s time to revive them. In just the first few months since the update websites are seeing upticks in traffic generated by Google image search. This could be particularly important for online retailers who may gain traffic from potential customers looking for products like theirs.

Quick tips for Image SEO:

  1. Use keywords in your file name.
  2. Fill in your alt tags, in WordPress websites this is very simple. Keep in mind that Alt tags may be visible when images cannot load, so they should be descriptive as well as SEO friendly.
  3. Go easy on images. Just because you might be able to get more traffic via image search doesn’t mean you should load up every page. Too many images and large file sizes will slow down load speed and drastically impact user experience and rankings. Always reduce file sizes when you use images to improve load time.

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