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A photographer friend of mine contacted me a few months ago with a big dilemma. He read in an internet discussion that the indexed images in Google Images are affected by keywords inserted into the picture, known as EXIF (IPTC).

I decided to run a small test. During the preparation of my blog post published on May 3rd in 2012, I had already inserted a photo purchased from a photobank. I  edited the photo slightly and did a basic retouche, afterwards I put the following unique terms in the EXIF that were not found in Google.com image results. The EXIF data using XMP in Adobe Photoshop in the Description tab were following:

And here is the resulting indexed picture in Google Images. In the picture below it is possible to see which EXIF data from the Description tab are processed by Google Images. Google processed the following details after clicking for more information about the picture.

  • Document title
  • Keywords

Is the picture available while searching for these unique words from EXIF that are processed by Google Images? No, the test turned out unsuccessful.

I was able to find the picture only if I entered its name trololoseopizza (even without specifying the file type). However, the title mentioned has helped us to find the article in which the image was located. The name was not used anywhere else, it was mentioned in the title of the picture only as trololoseopizza.jpg.

This results show that the filled in EXIF data do not currently have any effect on the sorting of pictures in Google Images.

The picture trololoseopizza.jpg used did not include EXIF data of the camera with which the photo was taken, thus they were not shown. But Google Images works with these data. More detailed information about it can be found on the Google Webmaster blog. In the future we can assume that the GPS data will be included in the information about the picture in Google Images as well.