Google would show an image box for typically anywhere from 35 percent to 20 percent of the queries they return — at least this is based on tracking tools from Moz and RankRanger — but that seems to have dropped significantly yesterday by half.
Both Moz and RankRanger are showing about a 50-percent reduction in the frequency Google will show the image box in the web search results.
The box looks like this on desktop web search results:
Now, those boxes show up not as often, according to these tools. We did ask Google for a comment but have not yet heard back. We will update this story if we hear anything from them.
Here is the chart from Mozcast showing the reduction from about 30 percent to about 15 percent, a 50-percent drop:
Here is the RankRanger chart showing a drop from about 23 percent to 11 percent:
Anecdotally, I am also seeing webmasters confirm this. So it doesn’t seem to be a bug with the tools that track Google.
It might be a bug with Google or Google may have decided to show the image box less often. Again, we are waiting to hear back from Google on this.