How To Boost Your SEO with Google's New Image Referral URL

By Tinuiti Team

Google recently announced the addition of an image-specific URL in Google Analytics to offer users greater insight into image-driven traffic. With this enhancement, site owners will be able to identify and quantify traffic driven by Google Image search and optimize their site based on that data.

Here are the details you need to know about the dedicated image URL, along with insights and recommendations on how to best leverage this feature.

Image Referral URL Quick Overview

-The new referrer URL is part of the HTTP header.

-The image URL indicates the last page that a user visited prior to arriving at the destination page.

-Changes in Google Analytics will happen automatically, meaning nothing needs to be done on your part.

-The new referer URL is:

Better Insight Into Google Image Referral Traffic

Before the Google Image update in 2013, the search engine marketing community was able to receive referral traffic insights because Google Image search results linked directly to the image source page.

However, in the 2013 Google Image update, large high-resolution images were served and provided options to visit the image source and view the original image. This resulted in less traffic to the original source as the high-resolution images were readily available through a google image search.

This change made it hard for webmasters and marketers to understand and segment out Google Image search referrers over other Google Search traffic.

With this enhancement, site owners will, once again, have better insight into Google Image referral traffic.

Recommendations Based on Image Referral URL

Anticipated Short-Term Impact: Improved analytics allows site owners to see more distinction between traffic sources to place increased focus on topics of priority search interest. It will be interesting to see the percentage of traffic that image search contributes.

Potential Long-Term Impact: Clear insights on image search can result in actionable deliverables to ensure images are optimized throughout image-heavy sites. The image referrer URL inform businesses of individual pages that host the particular image, which could result in recommendations to provide additional content optimization with consumer search interest in mind.

Industry Impact: The addition of referrer URL images allows more in-depth insights of image traffic and how this can convert into sales for e-commerce sites. It also provides insights on what images are optimized and how this affects traffic compared to images that are not optimized. Image search insights allow agencies to inform clients of their top valuable pages that they may not have been aware of in the past.

Vertical Impact: As Google continues to enhance analytic value across media, it is important to focus on how visitors reach your site. This update affects e-commerce and image-heavy sites the most; smaller sites with limited images won’t gain much additional insight.

Insight to Optimize for the Future of Search

Proper attribution for image referrals is compelling for increased SEO success. The new referral source allows images to become more actionable again. For instance, you can better optimize now that the impact of optimization efforts can be traced back to the referring image. Though all websites benefit from this feature, imagery-heavy sites and businesses will be impacted the most.

This enhancement to Google Analytics is right in line with the industry’s prediction that voice and image search are becoming more of a priority for search engines. That being said, it’s very likely we’ll see Google roll out similar referral URLs for Google Assistant in the near future.

Site owners now have better data (and incentive) to optimize their website for image search. However, don’t put voice search optimization on the backburner. Learn more about optimizing your site for voice search in our blog post, How To Optimize Your Site For Voice Search.

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