Sunday, February 18, 2018

Your photos just got more important

On February 14, Google made it slightly more difficult for viewers to bypass your blog when they find one of your images in Google Search.

To the extent that this changes the behavior of the searching public, your photo or other image has become a pathway to your blog.

Google has removed the "steal this image" button from Google search while leaving the "visit web page" option.

Google image search options for visit, not view
Look, Ma, no piracy!

Clicking "visit" from within search brings the reader directly to the blog post featuring the photo.

Although it is still ridiculously easy for others to download your images directly, the change will probably lead more people to your blog. Here's what Google says:

Google Images is a way for people to discover information in cases where browsing images is a better experience than text. Having a single button that takes people to actionable information about the image is good for users, web publishers and copyright holders.

Note: Of course the button was not literally called "steal this image." That's just how it was used.

The change increases the value of your images to you in Google Search. Happy Valentine's!

Images Are Important

Photos and other images are already important blog elements for the following reasons:
  • They add visual interest and make a page more eye friendly.
  • They illustrate general themes (as with this post) or specific features (as with this). They may be maps, diagrams, screen shots, or photographs of specific things that document, show, or explain.
  • They tell stories.
  • They are included when links to blog posts are shared on social media. On Twitter and Facebook the images are eye magnets that make click though to your blog more likely.
  • The new blog themes from Google incorporate images into the new designs to the point where blog posts without images won't look right. The themes practically require an image.

Original Images Are Best

The images you include are especially valuable as search vectors if you are the only source.

If you are reusing someone else's image (even legally), or if others are using yours, your web page may not rank as the source of the image. If so, the "view" button will link to others, not you.

A Checkered Past

When Google Search added the piracy button years ago, it broke the privacy that had been built into Blogger and exposed countless images to download and search. Many bloggers were not happy about it.

The story demonstrates how Google sometimes acts like an anarchic collection of autonomous gangs, each boldly busting up the work of the others in the name of innovation.

In this case, the change was part of a settlement with Getty Images.

Pirates will still pirate, and leaches will still leach, but this change means that posts with original graphic content will likely get more traffic from search.

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