Over the weekend, it was revealed that Google have just released a new manual action penalty within their guidelines. It has been named 'Image Mismatch' and is applied when the images on your website do not match what is shown in the Google search results. This is actually known as a form of cloaking even though Google have not referred to it in this way.
If you are one of the unlucky ones whose images have been affected, you will be notified on the Manual Actions page of Webmaster Tools. They have actually been quite clear about how you can find more information - "actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site are listed under Partial matches".
So, what do you do if you've received one of these notifications?
- Make sure that your site displays exactly the same images to users, whether they are being viewed directly on your site or within Google image search results.
- Once you're sure that your site’s images are exactly the same when viewed in both locations, submit to Google for a reconsideration of your site and be patient.
"Watch for a message in your Webmaster Tools account – we'll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site," Google says in its help files, "If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we'll revoke the manual action". Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your site will be reconsidered favourably and the penalty may remain.
Those using 'anti-hotlinking tools' should take this as a warning, as Google has said that this sort of behaviour can lead to an 'image mismatch' penalty. At the end of the day, however, Google want to create the best search experience for users and being shown different images on the website to image search results doesn't foster this.
Image Source : Search Engine Land