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Tracking Google Images traffic with analytics just got easier

Google just made an announcement about a change to the referrer URL sent by Google Image search that top web development companies around the globe are cheering about. With this change, tracking Google Images traffic with analytics just got easier. This is an extremely helpful change because it will allow website managers to more easily track their visitor sources.

In their announcement, Google explained:

“For webmasters, it hasn’t always been easy to understand the role Google Images plays in driving site traffic. To address this, we will roll out a new referrer URL specific to Google Images over the next few months. The referrer URL is part of the HTTP header, and indicates the last page the user was on and clicked to visit the destination webpage.”

What is a Referrer URL?

To clarify what Google is talking about, the referrer URL is the address of the webpage where a person clicked a link that sent them to your page. Many web analytics programs, including Google Analytics, log referrer URLs which then allows better insights as to where web traffic is coming from.

However, in the case of Google Images, that information was not readily available. Now it will be!

  • The new referrer URL for Google Images will be https://images.google.com
  • There will be the same country code top level domain as the URL used for searching

With this change it will be very apparent which traffic is coming to a site from Google Image search. Google, being Google, already has Google Analytics set up for this change so if you are using them there won’t be anything new to add. Worth noting is that Google Search Console reports will be unaffected by this change.

Why is this important?

The concept of Image SEO does not get discussed enough and as such it tends to be overlooked when considering an overall SEO campaign. In our increasingly visual world where pictures are being used rather than a thousand words, images are playing a larger part in SEO optimization especially for retail businesses with product pictures.

Images on your site are crawled and indexed just like the other elements of your site. Ideally you are using captions on your images, creating descriptive names using keywords, and including alt tags in case the images aren’t rendering.

That way when people are searching for something that your site offers, they will be more likely to find it. For example, if you search for ‘red mustang’ the Google results lead with images of red Ford Mustang model cars. When someone clicks on that image and visits your site you will soon be able to track that action to better understand where people are coming from.

When will this change happen?

As usual, Google is leaving everyone a little in the dark. They said, “We want you to be prepared for this change,” but did not specify a rollout date instead providing their normal “over the next few months,” timeframe.

That should be interpreted as good news for most businesses as now you have at least a month to work on image optimization if you haven’t already.

Tips for image optimization

If images are an important aspect of your content strategy, then you should optimize your images for better on-site SEO. Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Title – Title represent how images are indexed so it is important that your images are titled appropriately. You should use a brief, accurate description of what the image represents as well as relevant keywords related to the image.
  • Tag – The tags are where you use single descriptive words to describe things that are happening in the image. For example, the mustang photo should have ‘red’, ‘mustang’, and ‘car’ in the tags.
  • Caption – The caption is also known as the alt description and is needed for those times when the image in unable to load. Google uses this for their search index description. As there are more characters allowed in this field you have the opportunity for a very descriptive sentence.
  • Condense – Images should be condensed for optimal load speeds so that they work well on mobile or desktop platforms.
  • Align – Last but not least, images should be aligned properly on each page with the rest of the elements such as content, so they not only look good, but add to the entire presentation.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that this is not a huge, game changing development from Google. However, that is not to say this change is not valuable. Tracking Google Images traffic with analytics is going to be helpful so that you can understand exactly how many leads you are getting from this location which might lead you to approaching image use differently in the future.

Be sure to check back every week for great new Lounge Lizard blog articles.

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