Putting Google’s Reverse Image Search to the Test

Last week, Google posted this video explaining how to use its new Reverse Image Search. The concept is simple and it works.

  • Go to images.google.com
  • Click the Camera icon at the end of the search bar
  • Paste a URL to your image OR upload an image
  • Hit the Search button

I tried it out this week with decent results.  Google's search engine found my photos on sites that I knew about, as well as some that I didn't know about. It seemed particularly good at finding images on its own Blogger service and on Yelp.  I've written about using Google Images to help find your photos on the web before, but I was surprised to find that the image on that post was also the one being used on Yelp without my consent. To be fair, it was uploaded by a user who goes by Hugo G, not Yelp's staff or management. Hugo seems to like stealing photos and then uploading them to Yelp.

I decided to put Google's Reverse Image Search up against Tineye.

It was a blow-out.  Google responded with two pages of results showing me sites using my photo.  Some I expected, including my Flickr site, this blog, and some other sites where I've found it using my previous search methods. Then it showed me where it was used on Yelp & other sites.  It found my image on commercial sites, WordPress blogs and Google's Blogger.

Tineye claimed to search nearly 2 Billion images, took about three times as long, and found absolutely no results at all.

I decided to give it another try with some different subject matter. Once again, Tineye completely failed. On the other hand, so did Google's Reverse Image search.  Does that mean the image I searched – two men on Harley-Davidson's riding down Daytona's Main Street during Bike Week – wasn't being used anywhere else?

Nope. In fact, I found that image being used by a Swedish porn web site just last week. Clearly, the Swedes have something mixed up, because they put a caption on the photo stating that it was filled with naked women in St. Martin. Take a look for yourself and tell me if you would make that mistake.

Daytona Bike Week - Main Street

Daytona Bike Week - © Copyright 2010 by William Beem

I'm telling you, I just don't see it. Although Google's new search engine is interesting and potentially useful, it isn't perfect. Consider it another tool in your kit, but don't rely upon it exclusively.


You may also like

Leave a comment