After removing the title graphic from my website should a drop in Google position be expected?

The title graphic in question was only small (64x64) but was in the top-left corner of every single page on the website (about 500 pages).

It didn't drop immediately - about 3-4 months after I made the change.

I removed the title graphic because I found in the Google documentation that using graphics that are not "unique" means that the site is classed as low quality.

I did pay for the graphic - but it's just not "unique".



My site went from the bottom of page two (where it's been for years) to now being at position 55-60...!

Addendum 2:

This is here in response to Mikes answer: The bits in QRG that I identified as referring to using stock images making a site low quality are these bits (from April(ish) 2023:

4.6.4 Any type of content may be copied: text, images, video, etc. Images may be slightly cropped or edited to avoid detection. People may alter videos as well, or even make a video of a screen playing video! Copied content with no value added is Lowest quality.

4.6.4 Content that is copied, but changed slightly from the original. This type of copying makes it difficult to find the exact matching original source. Sometimes just a few words are changed, or whole sentences are changed, or a "find and replace" modification is made, where one word is replaced with another throughout the text. Images may be cropped or videos may be segmented into shorter clips. These types of changes are deliberately done to make it difficult to find the original source of the content. We call this kind of content copied with minimal alteration.

5.2 Using images from other sources (magazines, stock image websites, etc.) to avoid having to create pictures or diagrams to support the material in the report.

I also remember (years ago now) that John Mu once said "Improve the quality of your site" to me in the webmasters help forum.

PS Glad you like the software!

  • That does not sound a significant change at all. Google care about the content itself, not the template. Where in the Google documentation does it say that about graphics, as it sounds like you are misreading it.
    – RichardB
    Commented Jun 30 at 21:04
  • Also, "bottom of page two" - for what term? Unless you're in the top 3 for a term, it's unlikely you'd be getting much traffic.
    – RichardB
    Commented Jun 30 at 21:06

2 Answers 2


In May of 2021, SEMrush estimates your organic traffic was ~5,600 hits. This past May (2024) I'm seeing it down to ~1,500.

Now, let's not pretend that the data reported by SEO software such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, MOZ, etc are very accurate but they generally offer a good ballpark. They calculate it based on the search volume of the queries your site ranks for and the average CTR of the various positions on a SERP.

Assuming that the above data is at least somewhat representative of your actual traffic, you've experienced ~75% drop in organic traffic over the past 3 years.

SEMrush Overview

SEMrush Overview of OP's website

Ahrefs Overview

Ahrefs overview of OP's site

As someone who audits drops like this all of the time, this looks more like the result of a longer-term paradigm shift than a side-effect of changing something trivial like a header image.

The later spikes and drops align closely with Google's Desktop Page Experience update (March 2022), the original Helpful Content Update (August 2022), and the September 2022 Core Update/Product Reviews Update (really great article by Glenn Gabe).

To directly answer your question: No, I would not expect changing your title graphic to have any sizable effect on your organic ranking.

Regarding image originality:

I rank sites with stock images all of the time. The degree to which originality matters largely depends on your content. Creative and arts, hospitality, and travel, I'd expect in these niches original photography and graphics are much more important. As a general rule of thumb, I tell site owners that stock images are fine, but they're not going to help you out at all, whereas having original media will likely give you a decent boost.

From a UX perspective, in my opinion using high-quality landscapes, cityscapes, etc as background images is fine. Where you'll run into problems is when they're overtly stock, like a corny business graphic of a gear that says "success" and an upward trend icon next to it.

Final thoughts

I would start by looking into Page Experience - which is not just about speed. From what I see, it's just as much about the overall User Experience and design of a site.

The algorithm only does what it's told - so as far as I'm concerned, the algorithm is looking at sites through the glasses of a ~35-year-old product manager at Google.

Nevertheless, the decline to me looks algorithmic, and in your niche, I suspect freshness could have something to do with it as well.

PS. Thank you for RGraph - I have used it for years o7

  • Thanks for the response - I've added some info to the question that I found in the QRG guidelines about using copied images. According to my own, AJAX based, stats logger I get around 300 page views on a (good) weekday. Less than peanuts! Personally I don't see how Google can class my site (aside from that image) as low quality. It's fast, responsive, full of really good information and pleasant to look at. In comparison chartjs.org is ranked as number 1 for the search "javascript charts". Which IMO is quite basic design-wise. PS Glad you like the software!
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 1 at 9:01
  • Incidentally, I just ran Lighthouse and got the scores: (mobile) Performance: 100, Accessibility: 73, Best practices: 96, SEO 92 And for desktop: Performance: 100, Accessibility: 73, Best practices: 100, SEO 92. Not bad (aside from accessibility perhaps) if you ask me! ... continued...
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 1 at 10:26
  • .... Also, these questions from the Page Experience article: Do your pages have good Core Web Vitals? Pretty good Are your pages served in a secure fashion? Yes Does your content display well on mobile devices? Yes Does your content avoid using an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content? Yes - no ads on the site Do your pages avoid using intrusive interstitials? Yes - no interstitials Is your page designed so visitors can easily distinguish the main content from other content on your page? Yes - main content is very clear.
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 1 at 10:28
  • 1
    @Richard Your speed is fine, that's not your issue. Slap a modern design on it (remember what I said about ~35-year-old product managers shaping what Google sees as "Good UX"), and refresh your homepage content, I think you'll start to see things move. Commented Jul 1 at 15:02
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    The site is dated. I'm not wrong about this, and Google looks at it. I wouldn't have spent 35 minutes answering last night if I didn't care. Commented Jul 2 at 6:46

When you make major changes to your website, Google needs to send its crawlers out again to understand the new structure and content. This process can take time, and during this time, your rankings may fluctuate.

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