A WebmasterWorld thread discussed that the results in Google Images seemed to surface the original source of the images more of the time than it did in the past. A user who goes by the Sgt_Kickaxe wrote:
For years they would have a set of top images in search for every query but the images were hotlinked from their sources (primarily classifieds sites, galleries etc) and not really hosted by the competitor.
While doing a routine check of my image rankings for particular keywords I noticed that the top 4-5 images for one search had remained the same but the source had changed. These used to be my competitors rankings, but not anymore, now the source was ranked.
After performing a site:example.com in Google images, with example being my competitor, they still return 50,000 images but ALL of the source accreditations are of the source and clicking on the image leads to the SOURCE site, not his/hers.
It's weird to see a site example.com/site-a search yield results that when clicked lead to example.com/site-b but it's happening, Google's getting it right and denying my competitor traffic on borrowed images.
A Google spokesperson said that they have launched a new update for Google Images that improved relevance and quality:
We've recently launched an update to the algorithm that looks at the relevance and quality of both the webpage and the image to surface more relevant results in Google Images. Improving the quality of results in Google Images is very important to us, and we're always working hard to improve our algorithms.
In other news some what releated to search, another WebmasterWorld post talks about that there was yet another Panda updating taking place, possibly Panda 2.4.
However, Google said that there is no Panda update taking place currently -- "no Panda update is currently occurring," said Google to SEL.
So why are people noticing Panda-like changes?
Google said that maybe "those other sites may just be now seeing changes from the previous Panda update a couple weeks ago, but other than that, there's no update or anything out of the ordinary happening here."
When there is a new Panda update, we hope to be the first to let you know.