Imgur’s ultimate goal is to become the first place people think of when it comes to images, and a new update for its search tool that begins rolling out today could make that goal a reality.
Imgur already has tons of traction. The site sees 1.5 million images uploaded every day and pulls in over 5 billion page views from more than 130 million unique visitors every month. But most of that traffic comes from people sharing images on social networks or uploading images to community news sharing sites like Reddit. The site does have a robust and growing community of its own (users are self-dubbed Imurians), and it pulls in visitors with its collection of the most “viral” images of the day, based on the inbound data the company collects. But beyond that, people haven’t had much incentive to browse Imgur.
The new search tool changes that by transforming Imgur from a utility for images to a destination site where people discover new content. It does this by adding a system of tags users can add when they first upload an image. Also, anyone can add new tags or vote on whether they believe an existing tag is relevant.
“We took a lot of time to figure out what we wanted out of Imgur search, and it’s basically a way for you to find the most viral images for any category,” Imgur founder Alan Schaaf told VentureBeat in an interview.
Imgur’s new tagging and search tool will let you browse through viral images in real time and even create “galleries” with very specific parameters. For example, if you’d like to find a collection of Game of Thrones memes the morning after a new episode airs, Imgur is the service you’ll want to use.
But the tool will also be useful in filtering out what you don’t want to see. Using the same example, I might want to browse the hottest memes of the day, but since I’ve not watched the last Game of Thrones episode, I can filter out anything related to it to avoid spoilers.
And while you’ll also be able to search for images by file type, size, title, etc., Schaaf stressed that Imgur search isn’t going to be the go-to tool for finding images in general.
“If you want to find a general image of something, you should go to Google Image Search,” Schaaf told me.
Ultimately, the new tagging capabilities will also help Imgur’s bottom line, he explained. The company rolled out a comprehensive platform for tracking images earlier this year, which proved very useful to brands and other companies that wanted to track the virility of an image-based ad. With the new tools, Imgur should be able to give them an even clearer picture of not only where an image is getting popular, but also what’s getting attention from specific groups as well as what’s working vs. what isn’t.
It seems the Imgur team is putting that hefty $40 million funding round it announced in April to good use.