By NICK BILTON AND CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Google The new Google Images search has a denser layout and infinite scrolling.
Pictures are worth a thousand words — or, for Google, a billion page views a day.
On Tuesday Google announced a series of updates to the design and presentation of the image search section on its Web site. The company also said it would begin offering advertising with images on these pages.
Image ads are the latest in a string of new ad types that Google has been trying out. People often search images for queries about shopping, travel and entertainment, which lend themselves well to advertisements, said Ben Ling, Google’s director of search products, at the press conference on Tuesday in San Francisco.
Now, a fashion designer, for instance, could show an ad with a picture of a new trench coat whenever somebody searched for images of coats, or a ski resort could show a picture of a picture of its mountain that would show up when people search for images of winter vacation spots. Advertisers have in the past been able to include photos, but they have been small and the process has been complicated, Google said.
The ads will appear on the top of the results page, clearly marked as ads, the way that text ads appear on top of Google results now. Google “will explore” whether image ads eventually also appear on the main Google search results page, Mr. Ling said.
The new designs include a number of visual and interactive makeovers designed to make searching images on Google simpler and more informative.
One of the new features integrated into the Google Images page is a “dense tiled layout” of the page that tries to place more pictures on a single Web page. Google says this will make it easier to navigate through more content at once.
The site will also feature an instant scrolling feature that lets users sift through an endless stream of photos rather than continually clicking to load a new page of images. Google is also introducing a new “hover pane” that will show more information about an image when a mouse is placed over it. The new features will be on desktop computers by the end of this week, and other devices later, Google officials said at the press conference.
Google built its image search engine in 2001. People use it to answer a variety of questions that are more easily explained with a picture, said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, on Tuesday. Google had indexed 10 billion images and people view a billion pages with image results each day.
“There are some queries where text just won’t suffice,” she said.
That could include an art teacher describing Degas paintings, a cook wondering what jicama looks like before going to the grocery store, a businessperson wondering what the person she is meeting looks like, a traveler figuring out whether to visit a certain beach or a shopper wondering which pair of boots to buy.
But searching for images on Google has also been frustrating at times. The photos have been small, it requires clicking through many pages to view them all and clicking on a photo takes users to a Web page where it can be hard to find the image. The new design addresses these issues.
Ms. Mayer hinted at future developments for searching pictures on Google. The search engine should know, she said, if you are looking for a photo of the Washington monument or a photo of George Washington when you search “Washington.”
Google should also be able to show real-time images, like the photos being taken right now on the Golden Gate Bridge, she said. That is something that many Twitter applications already offer, so perhaps Google’s partnership with Twitter in real-time search will eventually expand into photos.
The latest updates came under some fire for looking similar to Microsoft Bing’s image search design and functionality. Fast Company’s Kit Eaton said that some of the new design elements look “borrowed” from Microsoft’s user interface, but Mr. Eaton also noted that this kind of “competition can only be a good thing for consumers.”