Google often shows images taken from websites and publishers like your sites in its search results. Would you prefer Google to show your image in search with attribution, or would you prefer Google to license images without attribution?
Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, said in some cases, he thinks Google should use paid licensed images from maybe sources like Getty Images versus taking images from websites on the web and adding an attribution link.
This came up when one publisher was upset to see his image used in that things to do/know feature. Here is that post:
How is this legal?
Google is now stealing Travel Lemming’s own brand searches (even via site search).
They take our list — INCLUDING MY ORIGINAL PHOTOS 📸 — and present it in a rich result so people don’t click through.
I am literally IN that Red Rocks photo! Wtf? pic.twitter.com/Wsw33BUMKY
— Nate Hake (@natejhake) December 20, 2023
So you can see the images used in this “things to do” box are from publisher websites where Google gets this content:
Then Sullivan responded to Nate Hake saying that this is not a new feature (it is old, he is right) and that the image has an attribution on it and that if you don’t want it, block Google from indexing it:
Hey Nate, this got flagged to my attention. I’ll pass along the feedback to the team. Pretty sure this isn’t a new feature. Elsewhere in the thread, you talk about it being an AI answer, and I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, either. It’s a way to refine an initial query and… pic.twitter.com/rO2dyaISbT
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 20, 2023
So you can see the attribution link on the image when you click on it:
In which, Danny then said, “My preference wouldn’t be to use images from around the web in thumbnails like that. I’d prefer we use only licensed images. It’s what I’ve communicated internally before. That’s because of exactly this issue, some site owners might not like it. Others might, however. Others might like that when people click, they’re going to be the first thing in the carousel. Ultimately, if someone doesn’t want their images used in Google Search, they can block them.”
Danny is saying for this case, who knows what other cases, he would prefer Google Search to show licenses images and not images (even with attributions) from third-party websites.
But he did ask, some publishers might want Google to show their images with attribution and not for Google to show licensed images.
So I ran a poll on X asking what SEOs would want and so far most of you (so far 70%, the poll is not done) want Google to show your image with attribution over Google licensing an image:
Would you prefer Google show your image in search with attribution or would you prefer Google license images without attribution?
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) December 20, 2023
Forum discussion at X.