The new image search keeps people inside the search results page more
Google is changing the way image search works, taking a cue from its own tablet image search which in turn is very similar to how Yahoo Image Search works, among others. In short, clicking on image results will bring up a larger preview of the image along with a slideshow of the rest of the results.This way, users can flip through the results quickly and still get a decent sized preview, large enough for them to determine whether it is what they're looking for or not.
What it means though is that the websites where the image originates from will be de-emphasized. Users can still visit them of course, but they can get a full or large enough version of the original image without going to the site.
"Based on feedback from both users and webmasters, we redesigned Google Images to provide a better search experience. In the next few days, you’ll see image results displayed in an inline panel so it’s faster, more beautiful, and more reliable," Google explained.
"You will be able to quickly flip through a set of images by using the keyboard. If you want to go back to browsing other search results, just scroll down and pick up right where you left off," it added.
Anyone who has used the tablet search will know what to expect. The interface is not really the same though, it is more similar to the current/old desktop image search than to the tablet one.
Currently, clicking on any image result will lead to an interstitial page with a preview of the image overlayed on top of the original page. If you want a different result, you have to go back and repeat the process.
With the new search rolling out over the next few days, this second step is skipped and the preview is incorporated into the results page. It means there will be a lot less hopping around to find the right image.
While it may be that some sites will lose some traffic over this, the change isn't that big. If anything, people will go through more results before giving up, so traffic in some cases may increase.