I like Matt Cutts. Sometimes.
Recently, he addressed an issue regarding Google Images and took the opportunity to explain, once again, how search engines work. I have a few thoughts of my own.
Recently I was on an email thread and the images team wanted to address a misconception. Google Images doesn’t have a dedicated blog right now, so I offered some space on my blog if someone wanted to do a guest post.
Perhaps Google Images needs its own blog now.
Every now and then a story surfaces that Google has ‘censored’ images or web pages and removed them from our site without saying a word to anyone.
I just want to say that I don’t work for Google and Google doesn’t give me money for supporting their cause. But this just doesn’t make sense in and of itself. Google has nothing to gain from censoring images. Ever. Why would they do this? You can Google porn and see all kinds of smut that is likely illegal where you live within seconds and probably see stuff you’ve never imagined possible. You can Google gruesome war photos. You can Google videos of Osama bin Laden making demands to the U.S. and other western countries. There is hardly anything at all that you can’t Google, yet somehow this person thinks that Google censors. Actually, it does – in China where, by law, it has to or risk being blocked by the Chinese government. If Google is so open about its censorship in China, why would it ever deny doing so anywhere else? The allegations just makes no sense.
Well it turns out this image was difficult to find on images.google.com for the first few days after the match, and the story that’s gathered steam is that Google removed it. Some outlets said that this was under pressure from the Israeli government.
It is particularly uncanny that people accuse Google of censorship when you can find the images they claim are being censored elsewhere on the Web. If Google were to censor an image, don’t you think it would censor the image for every result and not just one or two? If the image is on Google News and YouTube then you can Google it and find it. If you can Google it and find it then Google hasn’t censored it. If the image search doesn’t show your website as a result then the problem isn’t Google, it’s your website. Matt Cutts, however, has another simple reason why an image may not appear in Google search results for a few days:
The reason for the delay in the image showing up on Google Images was that it can take a few days between when an image appears and when its crawled by the Googlebot, as explained here.
I’m so tired of hearing the “Google is broke” sob stories. There is nothing wrong with Google. In some ways, the search engine is actually better than it used to be, as Matt clearly points out in his blog post:
When I joined Google in early 2000, we measured the time to update our index in months. Personally, I think it’s great that people now start to wonder why we don’t have a particular web page or image within just a few days. Over time, Google is getting fresher and fresher in my experience, but making a search engine work really well is a difficult task.
Did you read that? Months! It took Google months to index a document in 2000. Most of the time today you can have a document indexed in a few days or even a few hours. But the time factor for indexing new documents has a lot to do with the document and the source of it that is being crawled. If you own several websites and you know how to build incoming links to a website quickly so that you get the search engines to it to crawl the site then you can see quicker results. If you don’t then you may not see results for months. It all boils down to how savvy you are at search engine optimization. I’ve had blog posts on this blog indexed and hit No. 1 at Google within 4 hours. That’s because this blog is a trusted source for Google. We do things right.
That said, Google doesn’t crawl images. All the search engines are trying to figure out better ways to index images. Until they do, we’re stuck with alt tags, page authority, surrounding text, inbound links, anchor text, and other such clues. If the images on your website aren’t getting crawled, don’t blame Google. You probably need to improve your website’s crawlability.