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Potential of Image Search - Ways to Track Traffic

Among the basic guidelines on how to optimize a website, there are issues concerning graphics optimization. In SEO audit checklists, issues such as alternative text attributes or properly constructed image file names, appear next to recommendations for changes in meta titles, descriptions, headers and basic technical SEO issues.

It seems that graphics often play rather a complementary role to some more important technical issues and their optimization is not associated with any specific strategy. This situation is aggravated by the fact that Google rarely implies referring to Image Search in press releases and the blog for webmasters and Google Analytics do not add graphics to the default reports. In addition, the topic rarely appears during industry conferences and is rarely included in expert articles.

Key Findings

The main conclusion of this analysis is tha image search potential is underestimated. Some of the topics prompt users to search for images. These are e.g. issues concerning interior design and these associated with features of appearance. You will also find out that Google Webmaster Tools gives great opportunities to analyze images potential. The Search Queries report in Google Webmaster Tools is a powerful tool for any SEO expert or website owner. Despite the large rounding up used in GWT, the values ​​shown are very similar to what you can see in Google Analytics. In order to see the exact traffic values in Google Analytics, you have to make changes in tracking code, which is shown in last part of this article.

The Potential of Image Search

There ar phrases that are associated by default with graphics for example: “inspirations and ideas for interior decoration,” “gardens,” “breeds of dogs,” etc.). In such case sharing page views for the first page of search results graphics mounts up to 40 - 60% of the total number of views for the first page of organic results This could mean that the number of users using the image search includes only about 50% of users with a standard search engine.

Let us look at the example of "German dog" query. The website achieves 10,000 page views per month (data from Google Webmaster Tools), for the first page of organic search results. The image search page views reach 75,000, but in the first hundred results there are up to 15 photos showing up. It can be assumed that the first part of the image search results is viewed about 75,000/15 = 5,000 times (50% of the organic).

Image search can be a major source of traffic!

According to that data, in case of websites well-optimized for graphics, the number of visits resulting from image search may vary fro 20 to even 60% of all visits from Google.

Measuring the number of visits

The most effective and accurate way to measure the level of traffic from graphics is the use of Google Analytics. Unfortunately, by default, that kind of traffic isn't presented in the reports as the organic traffic, and it is impossible to separate it from the genuine organic traffic. Only by modifying the code and using a JavaScript function to identify a frame can we separate the images traffic from the organic one (more at the end of the article).

An interesting tool that allows quick verification of both the level of traffic and the potential of image search is the report provided by Google Webmaster Tools. Having entered the Traffic and then Search Queries section - we get a report that shows the frequency of the website’s appearance on Google and the number of clicks for each query. At the top of the report we also have the access to a variety of filters. The one interesting us is marked a Image.

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