New Google algorithm?
April 5, 2005 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Since April 1st, my blog's traffic has spiked, due to a dramatic increase in hits from Google image searches (like, 400-500 a day). What's going on?

Did Google change their algorithm?

The frustrating thing about these searches is that they're all fruitless: in every case, it's an image that I linked from elsewhere (for example: I'm the first result for Justin Timberlake poster), but Google is sending searchers to my blog, and the actual image they're searching for.

Two questions: A) Is anyone else experiencing this? B) Is there anything I can do to my code to counter-act Google's stupidity in how it's referring people?

(For the truly curious, here are the referral logs.)
posted by arielmeadow to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh and PS: Please don't ask why I was linking a Justin Timberlake poster. I'm almost 30 years old, I swear to god.
posted by arielmeadow at 7:01 PM on April 5, 2005

Response by poster: Correction: …Google is sending searchers to my blog, and NOT the actual image they're searching for.

Crap, I'm getting this thread off to a great start.
posted by arielmeadow at 7:06 PM on April 5, 2005

To block pages from Google's spiders, try robots.txt. Google adjusts its algorithms monthly, and it recrawls pages more often, especially for blogs. The problem may disappear in a few days. Consider e-mailing Google and asking someone to fix it; I bet they'll put someone on it.
posted by NickDouglas at 7:23 PM on April 5, 2005

well, google are using your page as context. you must have had that image included in your page at some point. google image shows the original page with the image embedded in it.

it's a kind of poetic justice for stealing other people's image serving bandwidth, i guess ;o)

and it should fix itself when they next crawl your page. or have i misunderstood?
posted by andrew cooke at 7:33 PM on April 5, 2005

Actually I've had the same thing happen for several months now. I once linked to an image (as a text hyperlink, I never embedded the image on my blog) and google images kept sending people to my blog for the image itself even though I never hosted it. I wasn't able to come up with a solution to this, and I'm under the impression that the index for google images is less frequently updated than regular google, so I'm not sure if doing anything to your code would fix things in the short term.
posted by gnat at 9:19 PM on April 5, 2005

I've found while using Google's image search that it doesn't always make a distinction between inlining an image and linking to an image -- when you go to the search result page, you're shown the image in the top frame, and then the context in the bottom frame, which I suppose means that a page linking to an image is the same idea of "context" that a page inlining an image is.

For instance, if the only picture on the Web of Richard Nixon naked is only linked to and not inlined (for obvious reasons), this way Google's image search will still find it.
posted by mendel at 9:19 PM on April 5, 2005

Response by poster: Like gnat, I linked these images — they weren't inline. However, that said: I never worry about image bandwidth with commerical sites. Stealing from personal sites is naughty, but commerical sites? Puh-lease!

As for robots.txt, it's not that I don't want Google spidering any of my pages. It's just Google IMAGES I don't want pointing to my site.
posted by arielmeadow at 9:27 PM on April 5, 2005

My non-solution was to take down the page of my ancient movabletype archives that linked to the image. It didn't really work, as even today the top term leading people to my site is the search term for the image. I'm just coming to the conclusion that image search indexing is lame.
posted by gnat at 9:33 PM on April 5, 2005

You should be capitalizing on this.
People/business' pay LOTS of money to get their page listed at the top of Google searches.
Being the top page for "Justin Timberlake Poster" could/should be lucrative.
Go find a bunch of deep discount Justin Timberlake posters/videos/etc... for $5. Mark it all up 500-1000% and sell it from the front page of your site.
posted by whoda at 6:27 AM on April 6, 2005

Best answer: ....or get an allposters affiliate account and redirect the page to the exact same poster. No really, try it.
posted by null terminated at 6:36 AM on April 6, 2005

Response by poster: Interesting idea, null. The question then becomes: can I write my .htaccess to redirect traffic based on a portion of the referral string?
posted by arielmeadow at 9:57 AM on April 6, 2005

get an allposters affiliate account and redirect the page to the exact same poster.

awesome! I tried doing something like this when my site kept getting hits about an "Earn Profits, Dark Profits" spam that I mentioned in a post. It was a particularly aggressive spam and said something like, "We have your credit card number and will ship you the child pornography and heroin that you ordered immediately!" I thought it was pretty funny, but all of a sudden I start getting frantic comments on my site like "I got this today too! Do you know who did it? What should we do? Should we contact the authorities?" and all that. When I realized that I was getting like 100 hits a day about this thing, I made a t-shirt out of it and linked it in to my post. But nobody bought it...

In retrospect, I guess I should have made a further threatening message and asked for $15 to "keep quiet" about things or something like that. Oh well...
posted by idontlikewords at 4:09 PM on April 6, 2005

Response by poster: After some poking around, I realized that all the google searches were pointing people to the career category archive of my blog (short verison of the story: I had a Timberlake poster in my cube years ago). Not many regular readers look at this page, so I decided to take null terminated's advice and here we go!

We'll see if I can make the most out of this Google snafu.
posted by arielmeadow at 11:47 PM on April 7, 2005

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