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    Optimized images: dropped rankings on Google Image Packs


    Hello everyone,
    I own a digital sheet music website (virtualsheetmusic.com) and for the past month or so, I have done quite some work with my team to optimize all our first page preview images to make them smaller and faster to load (in other words, we have optimized them by reducing their file size).

    We used to have a big number of them indexed in Google images, and most of them were ranking pretty well in the image pack. Such images used to be .gif images before their optimization, and they are not .png images.

    Of course, we took care of apply 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new ones, as well as updating all links and references on the site and inside our sitemap.

    Here is one of those URLs before the optimization:

    https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/im...tFirst_BIG.gif

    And here is the new URL after the optimization:

    https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/im...tFirst_BIG.png


    The difference is just the image format. But as you can see, a 301 redirect is applied correctly if you call the old URL of the .gif image.

    Now… why in the hell we lost 75% of our rankings in the image pack after this change despite we have done everything “by manual”? Any clue?

    Here is a graph taken from our ahrefs.com account showing the drop after the change, we applied the change on October 17 and on October 20 we had a huge drop of our presence in the image pack:




    Why’s that? Maybe we need to wait until Google picks up the change correctly? If not, what could we do to fix the problem?

    Any thoughts are very welcome!

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by fabrizio; Nov 4th, 2017 at 06:16 PM.
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    Hi Fabrizio,
    This is likely all related to the discussion about your site's ranking problems on this SEO Chat post.
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    Originally Posted by JohnAimit
    Hi Fabrizio,
    This is likely all related to the discussion about your site's ranking problems on this SEO Chat post.
    Really? Why should that be? This issue happened right after we updated our images, how is this related to that other issue? Please, let me know. Thanks.
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    What search query used to bring up your image?

    On which page is your new image embedded? Is it on the same web page URL as the old image?

    When did you upload the new image? Was it around 20 Oct?

    Forget the Ahref stats and tell us what your Google Analytics shows. Has your page that carries the image had a major drop in SE referrals?

    My ref. to the other SEO Chat discussion: I was thinking of the sheet music carousel G displays. Is this a very new feature? Could image traffic drop relate to G's implementation of this display function?
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    Originally Posted by JohnAimit
    What search query used to bring up your image?

    On which page is your new image embedded? Is it on the same web page URL as the old image?

    When did you upload the new image? Was it around 20 Oct?

    Forget the Ahref stats and tell us what your Google Analytics shows. Has your page that carries the image had a major drop in SE referrals?

    My ref. to the other SEO Chat discussion: I was thinking of the sheet music carousel G displays. Is this a very new feature? Could image traffic drop relate to G's implementation of this display function?

    John, you said "Forget about Ahrefs", so I made further research and what Ahrefs is telling me doesn't make much sense... I went on GSC and G Analytics and traffic didn't for those specific pages highlighted in Ahrefs don't match with the data there. Something is wrong on the Ahrefs side.

    In any case, to answer your questions above:

    1. The new images are embedded in the same exact page URLs as before. I just changed images from ".gif" to ".png" and updated all image tags on all product pages accordingly. And, as I said, I setup 301 redirects from the old .gif to the new .png image. So we should be safe there!

    2. The new images were uploaded on October 20th.


    Are you familiar with Ahrefs? If so, why do you think they are showing that sudden drop for the image pack right after my udpate on October 20th? I can ask them anyway...


    As for the carousel, I don't think that's a new feature, I think to have it seen already in the past... but I see your point for that. Maybe I changed the pictures that previously were featured there, and now they are not there anymore?

    Take for example this search:

    "Christmas sheet music"

    You'll see our images are not displayed inside the carousel, but if you click on "More images for christmas sheet music" you'll see our images are displayed first (!!) Maybe that is where is the problem?



    Thanks.
    Last edited by fabrizio; Nov 6th, 2017 at 12:34 PM.
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    I only ever used Ahrefs for its backlink reporting function. I certainly have never explored it to the point where its detailed limitations became known to me.

    The thing to remember is that none of the SEO tool vendors are Google. They can't assess, measure, record or report the same elements exactly the same way as Google. They are guideline tools that when used appropriately, may save time and offer indications of differences between web pages and web sites.

    When you tell us that the Ahrefs reports changed the same date as you amended the images, my first thought would be to explore inherent limitation in how Ahrefs may process your image info.

    Google is an evolving feast. In earlier times it could not "read" certain forms of URLs, Javascript, extract info from PDF files and more. It may be that Ahrefs has similar limitations and it hit an indexing roadblock when you switched your image formats.

    You did not tell us what URL the images are embedded on. Were they (eg) in PDF files?

    Aug 2015: Google Now Indexing Images in PDF Files

    "When Google first began indexing PDFs, they advised webmasters to create HTML pages for any images, as they would not be indexed from within the PDF. This appears to have changed, as the GoogleOS blog has noticed that PDF images are now being included in the Google search index."

    I'm not saying this is what happened, simply offering an example of where SEO tools may end up with different results than Google.

    The real issue is how to get your images higher up the image search rankings. G will look at many factors. Check out this article for a summary of them:



    Embedding images in HTML files should be better than in PDF files because you should be able to provide better Google image ranking signals in an HTML file.
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    Originally Posted by JohnAimit
    I only ever used Ahrefs for its backlink reporting function. I certainly have never explored it to the point where its detailed limitations became known to me.

    The thing to remember is that none of the SEO tool vendors are Google. They can't assess, measure, record or report the same elements exactly the same way as Google. They are guideline tools that when used appropriately, may save time and offer indications of differences between web pages and web sites.

    When you tell us that the Ahrefs reports changed the same date as you amended the images, my first thought would be to explore inherent limitation in how Ahrefs may process your image info.

    Google is an evolving feast. In earlier times it could not "read" certain forms of URLs, Javascript, extract info from PDF files and more. It may be that Ahrefs has similar limitations and it hit an indexing roadblock when you switched your image formats.

    You did not tell us what URL the images are embedded on. Were they (eg) in PDF files?

    Aug 2015: Google Now Indexing Images in PDF Files

    "When Google first began indexing PDFs, they advised webmasters to create HTML pages for any images, as they would not be indexed from within the PDF. This appears to have changed, as the GoogleOS blog has noticed that PDF images are now being included in the Google search index."

    I'm not saying this is what happened, simply offering an example of where SEO tools may end up with different results than Google.

    The real issue is how to get your images higher up the image search rankings. G will look at many factors. Check out this article for a summary of them:



    Embedding images in HTML files should be better than in PDF files because you should be able to provide better Google image ranking signals in an HTML file.

    Thanks John for your reply and sorry for not having given you an example of webpage with one of those images embedded, here it is one:

    https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/sc...l.html?tab=pdf


    It is the big first image preview of the sheet music sold on that page.

    I think that you may be absolutely right about Ahref, I'll ask them what's going about the image pack. It is without doubt though that my images are no longer present in the carousel you mentioned (the "image pack" I am talking about), so maybe Ahrefs is correct, by the moment I changed those images from .gif to .png format, Google has removed them from the carousel for some reason... could that be?

    Thanks again.
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    Do the eye-ball test and look at your top competitors

    Try a search for: Christmas sheet music

    Six of the 8 image pack are now from Pinterest pages and there are two others.

    Check out the pages:


    Your top image png file for Christmas sheet music is on this page.

    It is very obvious that all top 8 image picks are on pages that contain far more Christmas sheet music images and/or detailed and more focused info about Christmas music.

    They are much more effective at implementing the "9 SEO tips for better Google Image search results" linked above.

    You may also have a problem with G's ability to index your show/hide tabs.

    There has been a huge amount of G change going on as it works on its mobile index. I don't think people have realised the depth of consequential algo changes that must be involved in this. Image search must be caught up in it as well.

    Don't be surprised if results swing up and down while this is going on.
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    Thank you John, I see what you mean, and I'll try to rectify that!

    And of course, G is continuously changing its algorithm, and the "mobile first" one could also be involved in this issue.

    Rest interesting though how our images have been dropped from the image pack right after I made that change. Coincidence? Who knows...

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