In January of this year, Google Image Search (GIS) changed its structure and format to better accommodate its users in how they search and access images across the internet. The most noticeable feature of this adjustment was that images would now expand within the window rather than opening the website and loading the page with the image on it. This improvement was a welcome change among users, allowing them to access more previews quicker, completing searches faster and all without requiring pages to load on multiple websites. However, as a direct result of this change, my blog and many other anime blogs saw a sharp decline in views due to the reduction in searches leading to page loads. So while this moment of 2013 is not necessarily related to anime, this change in searches has had an unquestioned effect on this anime blog, perhaps the most significant change in its short history.
Although there are certain to be differences and variations within the anime blog community, I expect all blogs were hit by this change. For me, I had always employed a variety of images to enhance my blog posts, to provide pleasing and relevant visuals to accompany my writing. I’ve found their colors and details to be eye-catching and I want them to stand out in my blog, a reason why the theme outside of these images is largely black and white. And I structured my blog to have a variety of images since I know more anime fans search for anime images than anime opinions or anime blog posts. As a result, my blog reached a wide variety of anime fans from across the globe and my view count grew steadily over the years. I always knew, based on the search terms that people used to find my blog, that the images were how I attracted people with the hopes that people would scroll through the posts, read it and become interested in the writing. However, I knew most people were searching for an image and wouldn’t bother reading a single word I had written. Because of that, I always wondered how many people read my posts versus the people hunting and searching for certain images. Well, in January, Google decided to help simply my question by dramatically reducing the amount of visits purely from searches alone. And I was well aware of the change when it happened.
As you can see, the drop in monthly views is quite apparent. But I realize I am not alone with this profound change in views as I have spoken to other anime bloggers who have also noticed a similar change in views when Google altered its image search. Although different blogs may have seen different effects, I realized that this would change how I’d attract readers and how I’d promote my blog. However, I also realize that the views I receive now are more accurate than the image search inflated numbers prior to the GIS change. Now, I believe the views reflect a number closer to the real number of reads, though I do realize it’s nowhere near perfect. It does provide me with a better sense of how much traffic I receive on this blog and how to better tailor my posts to my audience. It also provides me with a better understanding of how many people actually visit my blog versus people looking for an image or two and then moving on. So while I may be nowhere near the number of views from last year, I understand that my readership continues to grow without the data to verify it.
This moment doesn’t really fit along with the lines of the other 12 Days of Anime posts, but it’s easily one of the 12 most significant moments of the year for this anime blog. It really helps me understand more of the anime community, what anime fans are really after and what other anime bloggers are doing with their blogs. Although people may be disappointed with the decline in numbers, it does reflect a better percentage of readers visiting the blogs and can be used to show what changes will increase readership versus people searching for images. I suppose then, with this new data and information, anime fans and anime blogs may alter their habits or change their behaviors to better connect and communicate as a community. So while this moment may not have been incredibly significant for me or even relate to an anime at all, it deserves its day in the 12 Days of Anime for helping improve my anime blog.