diamond geezer

 Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Image conscious

Have you noticed that Google's image database has got bigger? A lot bigger. According to Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, they've "doubled the index to more than 880 million images." I've noticed. I've noticed because Google is now directing people to my blog in search of pictures that aren't here.

It works like this. I place lots of links on my site (yes, you'd noticed, hadn't you?). Most of those are links to other webpages, but some of them are links to images - like jpegs, gifs or bmps. Here's one, for example, a link to the jpeg of Sergey Brin on the Google website. Google's search robots then crawl all over my site, spot that I'm linking to an image and add it to the Google image database. Once it's in the database anyone searching Google may come across the image, sitting there all temptingly on the results page. Then they click on the image and Google shows it to them on what it thinks is the original webpage, here. Except that the image was never on my page in the first place. All I had was a tiny insignificant blue-text link. The searcher gets to download a whole page of my archives only to find no image at all, wasting their time and my bandwidth.

There are two particular images I'm suffering for linking to.
• Type the words "Get out of jail free" into Google's image search and the very first picture that appears is of a rather tasteful old Get out of jail free Monopoly card from a site called adena.com. Click on the image, however and you don't click through to adena.com, you click through to me. I linked to the image back in August, and now I have a steady drip of visitors turning up here unable to locate it.
• My other problem image will become obvious if you search Google's image database for the word "business". That search comes up with about 1½ million images, but one of the first 20 is an image that I linked to in October. Go on, try it, you'll spot which image it is. And no, you won't click through to reclaimthestreets.net, you'll click through to here. And, great image though it is, it isn't here. Messy business.

So, if you'd like to attract extra visitors to your blog, try linking to some images. I can't say I recommend this course of action though, because those visitors won't be impressed by what they find, because it won't be what they were looking for. I suspect this is a particularly blog-related problem, because we bloggers have lots of links that don't stay on our front page for long. Honestly, you'd think Google could sort all this out and link images to the right location, particularly given that they own Blogger in the first place. In the meantime, hello to all of you image-hunting visitors with a Monopoly fixation - please click here. And to all those of you seeking that amusing tube sign, try clicking here. Personally, I think the Cattle Class jpeg is even better (bugger, I just linked to that too).

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