29 Jun 2015 Search Experts Slap Down Getty’s Attack on Google
Last week, Getty Images announced that they’ve been granted status as an ‘interested party’ in the EU’s antitrust investigation against Google. They blame Google Image Search for what they think is damage to their sales and website traffic.
An article on The SEM Post goes into impressive detail explaining how Getty’s complaints are unfounded, and how Getty is itself to blame for its lack of search traffic and poor visitor conversion rates.
Burying Getty in Search Results
Getty says that Google is demoting their websites’ listings in related search result pages.
The SEM Post article example shows Getty Images in first position, and Getty-owned iStockphoto in second position.
I’m no SEO expert, but the article author is, and goes into details about how Getty’s SEO strategy compares poorly to competitors like Shutterstock.
Using Getty’s Images against Getty
Getty also accuses Google of using its own images against it, by showing them in the “captive environment” that is the Google Image Search.
This is something other stock agencies have complained about, yet the fact remains there’s only two buttons on the page, and one sends the visitor directly to the exact page of the image on the Getty Images website.
Additionally, the inclusion of Getty’s images in Google’s search results is something Getty can easily turn off with a simple robots.txt file on their site, and/or using Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Getty takes issue with Google “scraping” their content and using it in their search results. But this is how the entire Google search system works. How else will Google know what’s on a page if they don’t look at it.
Again, Getty has the option to turn off Google’s scraping of its site at any time with a simple text file on their server.
Facilitating Image Theft
Getty also accuses Google of facilitating image theft through its own image search where Getty’s images are displayed in large size with no right-click protection. Yet Getty doesn’t have right-click protection on its own website either.
Getty also makes images available with what is a very weak watermark when compared to those that microstock agencies use, including its own iStockphoto.
iStockphoto has cheap images and a strong watermark, yet Getty Images has expensive images, a weak watermark, and a big “revenue recovery” department. Forgive my cynicism.
The SEM Post are blaming Getty’s expensive prices and complex Rights Managed licensing for poor results converting traffic to paying customers. This is a good point, but one without a logical solution for any Rights Managed agency.
How much of Google Image Search traffic is price-insensitive customers searching for premium imagery?
Getty Embed a Link Scheme?
Not content with dismissing Getty’s complaints, the SEM Post article goes on to raise the question about whether Getty’s recent image embedding program could be considered a link building scheme.
This is something for which Google recently banned a business from their entire search system, and a business in which Google itself is an investor!
If Getty’s offer of free image use is seen as a non-monetary payment in exchange for a keyword-rich link back to their website, they could find their Google traffic dropping to zero overnight by way of a ban.
Biting the Hand…
Getty doesn’t turn off Google’s indexing because they need the traffic Google sends, even if they struggle to convert it.
What do they actually hope to achieve by being involved in the EU antitrust case?
Such an aggressive move certainly won’t endear them to Google, and at times like these they desperately need all the Google traffic they can get.
But Getty has a lot of valuable experience being on the other end of complaints from those who they feed. Maybe they know what they’re doing.