Recently Google told its users a change is coming to Google Images referral URLs, and that this would have an impact on how this data is surfaced in Google Analytics.
Here’s more detail on those changes and how you’ll be able to use the new level of granularity to improve your marketing efforts.
Previously, all traffic coming from a Google Images search result would be grouped together under ‘google / organic’ in the Acquisition reports in Google Analytics. Soon, when the Google Images team makes their changes to the referral source URL, there will be a new Source line item for image search reflected in Google Analytics which will display as ‘google images’ in the Source report and ‘google images / organic’ in the Source / Medium report within Analytics.
You’ll still see a line item for images.google.com in the ‘Referral’ report within Google Analytics. The referral report will continue to show these, and all other sources, as referrals.
This is a change in the way we’re processing and reporting this data and will happen automatically for all accounts. If you don’t have any filters or custom channel groupings set up based on Google Organic Source or Medium, then no changes are needed and you can continue to report on the data within the Channel, Source and Source / Medium reports as is.
If you do have special filters, custom channel groupings, or reports based on this data, then you will want to make updates as needed to capture the new Source parameter in your custom settings.
Note that when this change launches, you may see a drop in data perceived to be coming from ‘google,’ since it will be reclassified as coming from ‘google images.’ In some cases, you may see an increase in organic traffic as we reclassify some traffic previously classified as ‘referral’ to ‘organic.’ These changes should all balance out and you shouldn’t expect an overall drop or increase in total traffic.
Why Is Google Making This Update?
Google has long heard from analysts and webmasters that they want more granularity in their analytics data to help them understand the value of Google Images. With the addition of the ‘google images’ source, you’ll soon be able to do just that.
Within your regular analytics reporting, you’ll be able to compare total Google Organic traffic to that of Google Images traffic via any of the acquisition reports, or add more detail to other reports by adding a secondary dimension of Source. These insights could help you determine when and where to allocate your marketing dollars or business resources when it comes to advertising and site optimization.
The ability to segment audiences based on Google Images versus overall Google Search can help you determine which pieces of content are most valuable, allow you to create audiences specific to image search, and use those audiences across the Google Marketing Platform.
Together, we hope these updates give you a new level of understanding of the traffic coming to your site through Google Images.