NOT COOL, GOOGLE!!!
Traffic on my photography and birding website has been very consistent over the last several years. Suddenly, in the last 3 days, traffic has plummeted by 40%. Looking at incoming traffic to my website, the reason is obvious…traffic from Google’s “Image Search” is dramatically down. People searching for photographs on Google through Google’s “Image Search” are no longer actually reaching my website.
The reason? This week, Google changed their Image Search pages. At first, the Image Search looks the same. You type in a search term and a long gallery of thumbnail images appears. However, now, when you click on a thumbnail image, it no longer takes you to the webpage where that photo is found. Instead, it now actually BRINGS UP THE FULL-RESOLUTION PHOTO for people to look at. You can now actually DOWNLOAD an image directly from Google’s Image Search, WITHOUT EVER VISITING THE WEBSITE ITSELF!!!
For example, let’s say someone is looking for a photo of a Gyrfalcon. They type in Gyrfalcon, and one of my images appears right in the top row of the Google Image Search page, as one of the thumbnail images. However, now, when a user clicks on the thumbnail of my photo, Google’s Image Search actually brings up the original photograph, WITHOUT taking the user to my website!! There’s a VERY tiny message at the bottom, barely noticeable, that says “the image may be subject to copyright”, but a user can simply right-click and save the Gyrfalcon picture directly to their hard drive, without visiting my website.
You are crossing a line, Google. You’re providing a search service, pure and simple. In NO WAY should you be allowed to actually DISTRIBUTE THE CONTENTS OF OTHER PEOPLE’S WEBSITES!!! Webmasters around the world are complaining of dramatic drops in traffic to their websites, especially websites devoted to imagery and photography. With Google now DIRECTLY displaying and allowing download of full-resolution imagery, web searchers are simply looking at full-resolution images on Google itself, without visiting the source websites.
NOT COOL, GOOGLE. I have no doubt there will be a legal challenge here, as I simply can’t understand the legality of Google itself effectively distributing CONTENT from other people’s websites.