Earlier this month, Google announced it has reached an agreement with Getty Images in their dispute over the ‘View Image’ button in Google Image Search. Getty Images argued that the button promoted Copyright Infringement since people were using Google Image search to search images and were able to view them and download them without ever visiting the website on which the images were published.
The BBC and several other sources reported angry users over this deal, stating it had reduced the effectiveness of Google Image search and making it harder for people to find images they want online.
When we consider the change from the perspective of website owners, the change is likely to be more positive than negative. When Google first introduced the View Image button, several of our clients noticed a drop in the number of visitors to their websites. Many of these clients had image rich websites (such as photographers showcasing their work). Google was now allowing people to view and easily download the original image (not just the thumbnail) without visiting the website. At the time, we spent time helping clients redirect these visitors to the website where the image was displayed, but alas redirects of this kind were discouraged by Google.
The impact of the View Impact button being removed is actually a positive move for website owners, particularly for businesses such as photographers looking to sell photographs online. Now when their images appear in Google Search results, the traffic is directed to the website where the image is displayed in the context of the surrounding content. Several of our clients have already reporting website traffic from Google Image Search increasing immediately following Google’s removal of the View Image button.
Much of the anger and arguments seem to be around convenience on the part of the person searching for the image, but for website owners and from a Search Engine Optimisation point of view, the removal of the View Image button is good news.