Google images top 1bn page views

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Image caption New Google image searches can show up to 1,000 images per page

For Google a picture is worth more than a thousand words - it is worth one billion page views a day.

The search giant revealed the numbers as it announced a major revamp of its image search.

Some analysts say that the new features are already in use by rival search engine Bing.

There are now over 10bn pictures on Google image search, which launched in 2001 with 250m.

"This represents the largest image search engine by far," Marissa Mayer, vice president of search told BBC News.

"I have been watching image search grow and grow for the last nine years since its launch. This is a tremendous rise and shows how the web overall has gotten richer and richer with all kinds of media."

Google said that the update represented "a nicer way to surf the visual web."

"We realised that for many searches, the best answer wasn't text - it was an image or a set of images," said Nate Smith, product manager.

"The quantity and variety of images on the web has ballooned since 2001, and images have become one of the most popular types of content people search for."


The new look image search is designed to be "more intuitive and get the user to the answer a lot quicker," said Ms Mayer.

To that end, Google can put up to 1000 images on a page to allow the user to scroll through them without having to click in and out of pages.

Image caption About 10% of users can see the new interface at the moment.

The company has also built a thumbnail preview that pops up when you hover over a particular image providing relevant information like a website address or image details.

Microsoft's Bing offers these features as well.

"Some of the new features are, ahem, borrowed from Microsoft's third-place Bing search engine, which has endeavoured to out-innovate Google search ever since its May 2009 debut," said Jeff Bertolluci of PC World.

Ms Mayer however denied being influenced by the rival search engine.

"We have taken all our inspiration from our users and looked at how many images they like to look at and how they interact with those results. Our advances are based on studying our users over the years."

The layout of the page has also changed into what has been described as a "dense tiled layout" to let users look at a lot of images all at once.

There are keyboard shortcuts for faster scrolling and a new landing page that displays a large image in context with the website where it is hosted visible right behind it.

'Bottom line'

Google has also spruced up things for advertisers by allowing them to insert an image into their text ads.

The new ad format, called image search ads, will only appear on Google images for now and are seen as the latest in a series of moves to increase revenue. The new picture-rich ads are expected to sell for a premium over text-only versions.

"The broadening of the availability of image ads on the site is potentially quite significant, especially to Google's bottom line," said Greg Sterling of industry news site

"Some of the criticism historically about Google's text advertising has been that it doesn't have any emotional content. You can imagine a search for say the Eiffel Tower or Hawaii and seeing these beautiful images and the travel ads or discount flights associated with them could be quite successful."

Google said like the text ads on its search results page, the image search ads will be clearly marked as sponsored results and set apart from non-paid results.

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