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geogphotos

Google Images - what is the point?

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Posted (edited)

Google Images claims to be the most comprehensive image search engine in existence. But it is hardly comprehensive. 

 

I just searched for my village name and there is a smattering of images from various stock photo agencies, local businesses, bits and bobs - two pages in total and then it says that I've reached the limit. It doesn't even have all of my own images which are on Alamy, Getty etc

 

So it certainly doesn't cover everything on the internet. I hardly see any from my own website on investigating this find that out of my 65,000 pages ( images) only around 2,000 have been indexed by Google. And I understand that this is normal - just like all our Alamy images aren't indexed. 

 

It leaves me wondering exactly what Google Images is supposed to be offering.

 

Google has discovered 63.1K of my pages but has excluded them. So what is the point?

 

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Edited by geogphotos

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One of the issues with google is if you use the same wording on a lot of pages, then google sees that as spamming and won't index your page. This is where I was taught that when selling products, if there are many with the same descriptions, put it in an image and use the image file instead of text.

 

Not sure if that is your issue Ian, but I know it can be with products if you sell a lot of the same type of thing where a good part of the description is the same in every product listed.

 

Jill

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Jill Morgan said:

One of the issues with google is if you use the same wording on a lot of pages, then google sees that as spamming and won't index your page. This is where I was taught that when selling products, if there are many with the same descriptions, put it in an image and use the image file instead of text.

 

Not sure if that is your issue Ian, but I know it can be with products if you sell a lot of the same type of thing where a good part of the description is the same in every product listed.

 

Jill

 

 

Thanks Jill. It's more of a general question about what Google is trying to achieve. It claims to be comprehensive but it in practice is quite selective about what it indexes.

 

Others might find out what I mean if they do some of their own searches - some of their more specific Alamy images - and see what they can find./not find.

 

My specific issue is with my Photoshelter hosted website.  I am doing all the SEO things Photoshelter advise - some new fields need to be populated as changes are in the pipeline as Google introduces  a system to find images that can be licensed.  Inevitably I have a lot of the same keywords in images such as locations.

 

But my question is more general. I only see a fraction of online images indexed by Google - so not sure what they are actually trying to achieve and how it relates to stock photos.

 

 

Edited by geogphotos

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1 hour ago, geogphotos said:

 

 

Thanks Jill. It's more of a general question about what Google is trying to achieve. It claims to be comprehensive but it in practice is quite selective about what it indexes.

 

Others might find out what I mean if they do some of their own searches - of their Alamy images - and see what they can find./not find.

 

My specific issue is with my Photoshelter hosted website.  I am doing all the SEO things Photoshelter advise - some new fields need to be populated as changes are in the pipeline as Google introduces  a system to find images that can be licensed.  Inevitably I have a lot of the same keywords in images such as locations.

 

But my question is more general. I only see a fraction of online images indexed by Google - so not sure what they are actually trying to achieve.

 

 

 

Google also indexes the text on the page as opposed to just the words in the SEO fields and tends to prioritize that text.  That could be an issue with some of your images on Photoshelter, but hey, I'm just guessing.

 

It was only a few years ago that Alamy allowed the google bots to index their pages.  Maybe Google is holding that against them. 😁

 

Jill

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Posted (edited)

My own images at Photoshelter are not really the main subject of this thread - just an example showing what I found out about Google Images which I did not know before. It may be that Google has identified my pages but not yet 'crawled' them because I only recently submitted my site map. There could be all sorts of other issues that I face. But I was hoping that the discussion would be more general.

 

On my village search Google favours the small number of images found on local business sites, one or two that have been in the newspaper, historic records sites, and so on. There is only a smattering of a few pics from stock photo sites such as Alamy, Getty and Agefotostock. I don't recall seeing any from Shutterstock. So it seems that a site with only a few images and lots of text is considered more important and relevant that an actual site specialising in photography.

 

The problem is that if Google Images behaves in this way it becomes almost impossible to for a photographer to attract site visitors unless they are famous and able to use that as a draw.

 

For most of use we hope and expect that Google will bring site visitors but it seems that may be a misunderstanding of what Google Images is all about. It makes is so much harder to move away from reliance on agencies if having built a website Google ignores it.

 

 

 

 

Edited by geogphotos

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7 hours ago, geogphotos said:

My own images at Photoshelter are not really the main subject of this thread - just an example showing what I found out about Google Images which I did not know before. It may be that Google has identified my pages but not yet 'crawled' them because I only recently submitted my site map. There could be all sorts of other issues that I face. But I was hoping that the discussion would be more general.

 

On my village search Google favours the small number of images found on local business sites, one or two that have been in the newspaper, historic records sites, and so on. There is only a smattering of a few pics from stock photo sites such as Alamy, Getty and Agefotostock. I don't recall seeing any from Shutterstock. So it seems that a site with only a few images and lots of text is considered more important and relevant that an actual site specialising in photography.

 

The problem is that if Google Images behaves in this way it becomes almost impossible to for a photographer to attract site visitors unless they are famous and able to use that as a draw.

 

For most of use we hope and expect that Google will bring site visitors but it seems that may be a misunderstanding of what Google Images is all about. It makes is so much harder to move away from reliance on agencies if having built a website Google ignores it.

 

 

 

 

 

Google ranks every page it indexes based on some algorithm that no one seems to be able to figure out.  So small town pages would probably have a higher rank than an individual photo on Alamy as they probably get more visits than a single image.  The image itself isn't ranked but the page it resides on.

 

Jill

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30 minutes ago, Jill Morgan said:

 

Google ranks every page it indexes based on some algorithm that no one seems to be able to figure out.  So small town pages would probably have a higher rank than an individual photo on Alamy as they probably get more visits than a single image.  The image itself isn't ranked but the page it resides on.

 

Jill

 

 

Thanks again Jill.

 

As individual photographers I think we are being fed misinformation about SEO and how it is possible for an individual to get their images found by Google.

 

I'm still left confused over what Google Images is trying to actually achieve or what it is for. 

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Posted (edited)

I did a broad two word search on google images that would cover some of my best-selling photographs - a place name and the word lighthouse which covers a couple different ones - many that have been licensed multiple times by Alamy and also directly from Photoshelter (but there it was some years ago) - I have 12 of them on Alamy and the same 12 are searchable on Photoshelter, 6 are on Fine Art America and 10 are on Adobe (the same 10 were on shutterstock but that portfolio is now disabled). 

 

My images on Fine Art America start to show up in the 4th row,  and more in the 6th, by the 8th row I see some from Adobe, by the 16th row I see images of mine licensed for local web sites interspersed going down more rows, I have to go down to the 30th row to see my first one from Alamy, though many of these images have been licensed over the years by them - I only scrolled the initial page and did not hit "see more images" but none of mine from Photoshelter are showing on that initial page. When I did the same search in the past, my shutterstock photos were often in the top three rows.

 

I know that google often shows you stuff you want to see, so I'm not sure that if someone else did the same search they'd see those images, but as they are so spread out and since I haven't uploaded or shared any of them on social media in a long time it seems like it may be a valid search - showing things you've engages with recently may just be in ads and not in the image search - I'm not sure. Looking at all the images and where they are from seems to indicate that certain sites are doing better than others in their placement in searches. I remember when my Photoshelter photos used to show up at the top of google images searches and I'd get direct licenses from magazines and web sites but as algorithms change, so does search placement. 

 

The search gives you other two word options to click on across the top. Hitting the placename and "harbor" are another choice (a more focused search term) and with that I'm in Row 1 for both ALAMY & FAA, Row 2 for Photoshelter, with more from Alamy, Adobe, FAA, and other stock sites throughout page 1. This shows me that a more focused 2-word searches brings up all of my images that have those terms and they rank well from various sites. 

 

When I clicked across the top for the location itself,  just one word (town, no state), I see my licensed photos up top for various travel and local business websites, and about halfway down the page (I'm tired of counting rows), one on my Photoshelter hosted site (not one I've licensed). Clicking on a broader regional term, I'm up top in the first three rows with a few different images from FAA, then more from licensed websites. I see Alamy (not mine) a few rows down from there and some rows below that mine from Alamy start to appear. 

 

In all these searches, a nice variety of my 6-12 images from the various sites show up. Lots of Alamy and Photoshelter images in other two word searches across the top row too. It is a very popular tourist location in the US and searches on Alamy and elsewhere bring up pages and pages of images. 

 

Some years ago, I'd never see Alamy images in a google search but now they are showing up, so things have improved. In the initial search, the first FAA and ss images (not mine) show up in Row 3 (my first from FAA is in Row 4) and the first from Alamy (not mine) is in Row 4, so that is positive for Alamy. My image in Row 8 from Adobe is the highest ranking image from there. I don't see any from Photoshelter nor from any Photographer's websites at all. 

 

Weirdly, when I click on the links that show across the top for the name of one lighthouse, the only image of mine I see is one that Getty now has from 500px (which didn't show on page one of the broader search), and a few on local websites. There are very few stock images that show up at all.  When I click on another lighthouse name, my first image is in Row 2 (from FAA), with an image from ss (which leads to their Spanish site - I scrolled for ages when I clicked and my image is fortunately not showing so it appears to be properly disabled) and others from local and national websites but none from alamy. It's impossible for figure google out but it is concerning that the most specific search terms, the actual lighthouse names, rarely bring up any stock photos. 

 

This was interesting but I'm going down a rabbit hole. I'll try another search where I have more than 12 images - like the broad regional term without lighthouse, and see if at some point too many with the same search term hurts my images, though if they are spread among different sites, maybe that's less of an issue. Interesting experiment. 

 

Many of these images show up in the top row or rows for searches on the various stock and POD sites, since most have been online since 2010 and still sell regularly as framed art and licenses for web and print, though there is lots of competition, so it seemed like a good search to compare how they rank on google. Evergreen travel has been good for me and it will be so good when it's safe to travel again. It may be a very long time. 

Edited by Marianne
Corrected typos
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Posted (edited)

Wow what a comprehensive reply, Thanks so much.

 

One thing that I notice is what you say about Photoshelter. Years ago i used to find a lot of my images showing up in Google Image searches but now hardly any at all. I've had quite a dialogue with them and felt at first that they were just trying to quieten me down. It always seemed to be something else that I needed to do, or some problem in what I had done. For example, they said I should change from the old Classic template and I did. The situation just got worse with Google then in the end somebody there told me that Google actually preferred the old Classic sites and they weren't sure why! Of course nobody truly understands what is going on with Google but I felt that PS were just saying whatever was convenient to send me away.

 

I am aware that one problem I have is too many keywords. My editor at one agency said that I was doing it in an exemplary way but Google may regard it as spamming. I'm thinking of actually deleting lots of Keywords and starting again with a very minimalist approach - but that will be so much work.

 

Photoshelter are aware that they have dropped down the list with Google and as you will know are coming to the end of a big programme of improvements to help with SEO. I just don't know  how much faith to put in this. Will wait and see.

 

You seem to have found much the same as me that Google is only listing a few Alamy images and nowhere near everything that it could.

 

It seems from what you say that FAA are doing well in searches and your images which are on other people's websites through being licensed are doing well. 

 

Mt take from this is that many of us are perhaps working away in the assumption that Google will find and index our images and bring visitors to us, but the reality is much less clear and to attract visitors we need to do a lot more to learn and understand what is happening. And then the trouble is Google will go and change things again!

 

Thanks again for sharing your research. How many images do you have live on Photoshelter, I think I have too many?

Edited by geogphotos

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This is coming:

 

Image License Metadata in Google Images 

 

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/image-license-metadata

 

 

I'll probably wait and see what this turns out to mean before embarking on any major changes to my website.

 

Perhaps there will be a search filter to only include images that can be licensed? That would be an incentive to boost site visitor numbers. 

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