Choosing to be included in Google’s search results has always been a decision about mutual benefits. Google gets a bigger index and you get more web traffic. We all win. This was also the case with Google’s image search but now thanks to some changes it’s gone from win-win to Google Win – Screw You.
Google has decided to host the worlds largest image repository, or to be more exact, Google has decided that you are going to be part of hosting the worlds largest image repository. The mutual benefit of having images included in Google image search was that when a user clicked on the thumbnail image looking for the original you got a visitor but that’s no longer the case. Instead Google are more than happy to show the full size image (courtesy of the hosting you are paying for) and in return give you the square root of exactly bugger all. Even if you only get a few referrals from Google images each day it is worth looking back to the end of January and seeing how this has affected you? If you have websites that heavily rely on this traffic source then I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you how significant this change is to your traffic stats!
I realise this is yet another Google bitching post but one way or another it is getting beyond a joke, the Google/webmaster relationship has become take, take and more take. There are a couple of things you can do to help this, first of all you can use a disallow statement in your robots.txt and stop Google from indexing your images (thus losing all Google image traffic as a side effect) and most importantly you can change your default browser over to Bing* and tell everybody you know to do the same. The only way Google is going to change path is if they see real changes in browsing behavior from users.
*Yes we know Bing do similar with images but it’s more about shaking up Google’s market dominance as a whole.