Dimensions of Reverse Image Search on Google

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Reverse Image Search is a favorite way to find online traces of someone by their social profile photo.

But if you search by image on Google, you may be missing some results. Here is why and how to overcome that.

#1. When you upload an image, Google (annoyingly) shows its “explanations” – sometimes even offensive – like “hair loss.” For my friend @Infosourcer‘s Twitter profile picture in two different dimensions, it decides on “wildlife biologist” on one and “leisure” on the other. (Who needs this feature as it is?)
The “explanation” keywords is not an “innocent” addition, though – they affect your reverse image search.

Change the automatically appeared keywords to something meaningless – just “a” would work – to stop the results from being filtered. Or change them to the person’s name (or other terms) to “guide” the search.

#2. Did you notice how, in the example above, Google’s “approach” to searching by the same image in different sizes is inconsistent – it interprets the images differently? (Also note that “Find other sizes of this image” that you may see, as in the screenshot above, usually finds little.)

Searching by the same image from different sites or in different sizes often produces complementary results.

Let me demonstrate that using my business partner David’s LinkedIn profile photo as an example.
If I search by the profile photo, I find LinkedIn and a few other sites, including our CSE book on Amazon – but not the Twitter profile (which has the same picture).

But if I resize David’s LinkedIn photo to 200×200 pixels (as above) using a simple image editor, new results show up – including Twitter! If I search by the 200×200 image from Twitter, results vary again.

Summary for reverse image search on Google:

1. Remove or change Google’s guess
2. Use different image dimensions and the same image from different sites to uncover more results.

Bonus point –

How to see a LinkedIn photo without a frame

Some LinkedIn profile photos have #opentowork or #hiring frames. For reverse image search, these “stand in the way.” Images on public profiles have no frames, but LinkedIn often would not let you open the profiles without logging in. There are fun ways to see an incognito profile, such as view it with Google Mobile-Friendly Test.

But to find the image only, you can X-Ray the person’s profile in images, like so:

site:linkedin.com/in/jimstroud imagesize:200×200.



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