Google Introduces Smoother Image Search
Google has been tinkering with their image search feature lately, changing from side-navigation to top-navigation for their search options menu bar only a couple of months ago.
Image search has now received an even bigger overhaul in the form of a streamlined workflow that should allow you to find images without a lot of extra clicking and opening/closing of windows. While the change will benefit Google image searchers who have become accustomed to image search on tablets, some site owners are concerned that the change could lead to reductions in traffic.
A More Refined Image Browsing Experience
The old version of Google's image search was clunky at best. After entering a search term, you had to hover over images in order to see barely-larger versions. If you liked what you saw, the next step was to click the image, which would bring you to the page where the image is contained, with the image itself overlaid on top of everything.
Actually viewing the image by itself required you to click "full-size image" in the left-navigation, which brought you to the image. If you didn't like the image and wanted to find another, you had to leave the site containing the image and head back to Google image results, starting the process all over again.
The new system is a pleasure in comparison. Once you click an image in search results, it immediately brings up the full-size version without actually taking you to the page containing it. You can easily click through all the images in the SERP, seeing their full-size versions, without ever having to leave Google or load a new page.
Less Traffic for Image-Containing Sites?
That last line - "without ever having to leave Google" - is what has many site owners concerned. However, in a Google Webmaster Central Blog post outlining the new system, Google reassures publishers that, if anything, they should experience an uptick in traffic. Users can now click the domain name to visit the site, and there's a brand new button that allows visitors to check out the page where the image is contained. In total, this doubles the number of avenues that people can utilize to visit the hosting page when performing an image search.
The other bonus to publishers is that they'll no longer experience "phantom visits" - traffic that looks like it came all the way to their site when it actually only came as far as viewing the full-size version of the image on Google. This should give site owners a more accurate idea of their traffic.