Google Search Image Thumbnails Missing

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Google Search Image Thumbnails Missing

For the past several months, generally around the helpful content update in September and the various core updates we had over the past several months, there have been complaints with image thumbnails for some sites not appearing in the Google Search result listings. Google responded again to the issue, saying it is not a technical thing for most sites but rather a quality issue.

Truth is, this is similar messaging to what we saw when Google locked down the complaint thread on those image thumbnails going missing.

John Mueller from Google posted on LinkedIn saying, “Unfortunately, the cases brought up to me aren’t due to technical issues (as far as we could tell when debugging), neither on Google’s nor the website’s side.” “There’s no technical fix, we wouldn’t consider it broken,” he added.

John said the issue is with the quality of the sites and Google not deeming those sites quality enough to show those image thumbnails. John wrote, “Currently with core updates, our systems re-evaluate websites, including whether or not to show thumbnails in various places in Search.”

Where does this leave these site owners? John said he is “sorry that I don’t have better news to share.” “We can’t make promises about the future, but I imagine this will change over time, both as core updates re-evaluate the web, and as we work on the related systems, such as these thumbnails,” he wrote. So you need to wait for a new core update.

Then John said here is what site owners can do in the meantime, he wrote:

What can you as a site-owner do in the meantime? With core updates, improving the site overall makes sense (and I realize many of you are already doing that, which is great). Structured data for appropriate rich results types can also make sense.

And of course, before spending too much time on more involved approaches, double-check that there isn’t a technical issue after all (robots.txt, broken links, bot-protection, etc).

The images may show up on certain surfaces within Google Search and not others. This example was posted in that thread, asking why it shows sometimes. John Mueller replied, “Yes, there are various places thumbnails are shown, and they have their own decision mechanisms.”

Image Thumbs Not In Google Search

You can see a new complaint thread over here that has recent complaints about the issue.

As a reminder, for the past few several we have covered the vocal and visual complaints around Google Search not showing image thumbnails for recipe search results and other search results that generally have image thumbnails attached to the search result snippet. Google in May responded to the large Google Webmaster Help thread in the forums by saying we know, we are still investigating, follow our guidelines and then locked the thread down.

When that happened, Ryan T, a Google community manager, wrote, “We continue to encourage you to follow our quality guidelines and evaluate your sites based on our documentation, as these practices can significantly impact how your sites are perceived by our systems.”

Which implied to me that these issues were not issues technically with Google or the sites but quality with the site. I asked back then, “this part of some sort of helpful content hit?”

Seems like it was part of a core update (which has taken over the helpful content update).

Forum discussion at LinkedIn.

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