In my previous post, I wrote about Google’s new image search and the impact this is having on photographers and artists. Since the changes, web publishers with image-rich sites are seeing a substantial drop in traffic and are understandably furious.

Not only are they seeing a fall in visitors and revenue, but they’re also concerned about increased image theft. Publishers who buy images from stock photo sites are subject to strict usage conditions and are understandably worried that Google can display the full-sized image in a new window with no copyright notice or links to the originating website.

As a result, many publishers are taking the drastic step of blocking Google from indexing images. Others are looking for less drastic, alternative solutions that will encourage visitors to visit their websites. One such site that’s creating plenty of discussion is fansshare.com.

While I’m not endorsing this site, I mention it as they have somehow thwarted Google so that anyone clicking on a fansshare thumbnail while in Image Search initially sees the hotlinked image that Google displays within the results, but a moment later the image is grayed out with a prominent link to the actual web page (below).

fansshare image search

For a brief moment you see what Google wants you to see after clicking on a thumbnail in image search

fansshare and new google image search

Moments later the image is grayed out, replaced with a link to the page on the fansshare site

This sort of solution usually requires some fancy programming and changes to files on the server, which is beyond the capabilities of most publishers. However, I have found a partial solution for WordPress blogs, so that searchers are taken to my original blog post, rather than an image in a blank window, when they click on “View original image”.

It’s a plug-in called Google Break Dance. It’s simple to install, but does require that you add some code to the .htaccess file. Here’s the gist of the English translation that describes the plugin:

“When the visitor clicks the link ‘View original image’ on the Google search page, then the URL will be redirected immediately to the post where the image is located. Before installing this plugin do not forget the following input text lines to the very top of the .htaccess file:”

My blog resides in a sub-folder on the server and there was already an .htaccess file in that folder (same where wp-admin, wp-content etc are located). It had some lines of code related to my blog, so I added the additional code that the plugin requires. I had to put in the exact URL of the blog to get it working.

So here’s what I added to the .htaccess, below the existing lines:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} wp-content/uploads/.*\.(gif|jpg|jpeg|png)$ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://blog.wildlife-pictures-online.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /get_image?$1 [R=302,L]
# END WordPress

So far this seems to be working fine with my blog images. You can test it by going to Google image search, then typing in “site:blog.wildlife-pictures-online.com” (without quotes).

This will show thumbnails of images from my blog. Click on any one, then click on “View original image” and you should be taken to the blog post on which the image appeared. (In a few instances it doesn’t work, where the original image is from a category page rather than an actual post).

I get very few visitors to this blog and certainly no revenue, so the plugin is hardly going to make a difference. However, it’s more a matter of principle as I firmly believe what Google is doing with its new image search is unethical, unfair on publishers, and totally against its motto of “Don’t Be Evil”.

UPDATE WED FEB 13: Looks like there could be potential problems with the Break Dance plugin redirecting to the original blog post. There are reports on the Web of people seeing a drop in rankings of their images since using the plugin.

However, there is an alternative, the Imaguard plugin, that I’ve installed instead. (Thanks Charles). Hope to add a post about how this works in the next day or two.




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+Scotch Macaskill