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Stealing images - will this help our site any on Google?

 10:47 pm on May 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've been having problems with other people using our images on their sites. Not only that they steal them, they are still hosted on our site (meaning every time someone visits their site we get a hit as well).

Now, I don't care if it is a small site and get a couple of hits a day, but, today our image appers on a site with over 10,000 visitors already.

My question is, does google see this as a plus for our site (site stealing the image has a pr6) or does this get totally ignored by google. If so, I will remove the image (or place something nasty instead).



 7:02 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

the best way of stopping this is to alter you config file (if you are using apache)
but the easiest way to do it is just to upload .htaccess file to your root

i am not sure what the proper code is, so you better check it out first, but it goes something like this:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER}!^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER}!^http://(www\.)?yourwebsitename.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif¦jpg)$ - [F]

when another site tries to display your image then, all they will get is one of those missing image things

... i can't see how them displaying your image will help your google ranking though, as it's not a link.
maybe if they wrapped the image in an anchor tag, then it might.


 7:30 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you are going to block them using a rewrite rule, you might just want to change the last line to point to an image with some text that says hotlinking is not allowed, and that the users should visit your site in order to see the picture.

It may cost you more bandwith, but it might just get you a few extra visitors, and it won't clutter your log with 404's


 7:57 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

A speaker at pubcon discussed this and had several excellent things to do. (I think it was jake) It would be funny.

Why not take advantage of the situation promote what ever it is thats on your site through the image. it gets the point across to the people that are using it the gig's up and you could try and make money from it.


 8:19 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

wouldn't it be great if you could serve up an amazon affiliate ad or something, instead of an image.


 8:41 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)


I get ~20,000 hotlinked image requests per day from MySpace amongst others. I usually just 404/403 them but I switched to redirecting to a simple small GIF containing my URL and my additional visitors have been so high that I've stopped all my normal paid avertising for the time being!

It's rude of the fools who hotlink, but you can make it into a viral marketing opportunity...




 8:50 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

No apached guys, and none of above answer my question. Question was: How does google look at this? If a site PR7 serves our image does it help our site at all? Anybody.


 9:00 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is no 'help' to your site, except to help you needlessly reduce your available bandwidth.


 9:10 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is no 'help' to your site, except to help you needlessly reduce your available bandwidth.

That's what I was asking about, I though since Google knows which sites link to our sites it would also look at where the image is coming from and credit our site as a link.


 9:23 pm on May 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

is there a way to protect blogger images from beeing leeched?

I would like to replace it with small jpg or gif containg link to my site...

is that possible?


 7:47 pm on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

i saw someone do this once:

he kept the normal image as it was, but then put a black box on the bottom with his URL in bright yellow.
when he displayed the image on his site, he just wrapped it in a div and cropped the bottom off so it didn't display.

most people won't bother linking to it because the box makes it ugly, but if they do then there is your URL for all to see.

hardly seems worth it, though. you'd probably lose more bandwidth in displaying the extra bit than you'd save.


 8:25 pm on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

doesn't Google see this as a inbound 'link' to his site? i would think that it does.
(but, what do i know)..


 10:18 pm on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is no way to know for certain, but I suspect that Google could use it as a minor indicator of importance.

Think about it... people don't steal crappy images from crappy sites. They hand pick the best image for a specific purpose - like posting in forums and MySpace profiles. That information could be valuable to Google.

I have personally seen plenty of evidence that a frequently stolen image will subsequently improve positioning in Google Image Search.


 11:34 pm on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've never seen an image src attribute credited as a backlink in Google or anywhere else. The only related behavior I have seen is that a src= attribute can get googlebot crawling the url if it has been so far unknown. Helping with image search ranking make some sense, but not the regular SERPs, in my opinion.


 12:43 am on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Think about it... people don't steal crappy images from crappy sites. They hand pick the best image for a specific purpose.

Hey, thank you


 12:48 am on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think it more depends on how you view it ..

if you are going let people use your images then use it as best you can, requesting a visible link back to your site.

If people take them with out asking, then simply chase them up, ask them to put in a decent visible link next to it, if not block them specifically.

It's a bit more work, but it can build a benefit. taking a negative and make it positive.

Realistically, if at the end of the day they do not have the means to pay or be professional you normally follow the legal route.. I would suggest that the time and hassle involved in going through those motions can be more time consuming and not really value for money.

Instead, think of them as leads, building your links.


 1:38 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Check with your webservice provider and see if you have hotlink protection. I can flip it on my site and it effectively blocks hotlinking.

I choose not to do that though because if its a real neat picture on the right site, I actually get traffic and sales from it.

I have found a lot of my photos on blogs that actually do list my url, consumers finding products I sell and posting them on blogs that create sales.

If its not costing you $$ for the bandwidth, I would not worry about it to much.


 1:56 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I call this 'hot-linking' like most others.
A blog, site or whatever displays images from my site and I pay the bandwidth.
If they put a nice link to the original page, I don't make much of a fuss if any.

IF NOT, I still find it a good way to get a nice natural link!

Way back, some born-again site used one of my images to make some religious point.
I emailed the evangelist, and politely pointed out that this cost me bandwidth,
and that I would like credits in the form of a link.
Up went the link, its been there for years now.

Same thing with blogs, I usually just have to refer to their own TOS which
often bars infringement etc., somewhere after not using
dirty words or being a troll.
More often than not, I have a nice new link. A lemon turned into lemon pie!

Some of these people are a bit clueless. It helps to come on politely at first.
The blatant rip-off artists are another matter entirely.
I have entirely different procedures for them. -Larry

PS: I will discuss lemon tree troubles in a separate forum -LH


 3:33 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

how can google weight a link like that though, anyway - as it doesn't know what the picture is.

for example... imagine that your page is all about recipes for tomato soup, and you include a big picture of a tomato.
someone might hotlink your image of a tomato to display on their site, which might be all about gentically modified foods.

the pages are about completely different subjects, so google can't give you any credit.


 11:46 pm on May 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

And how does Google know your image traffic stats served to another site? They don't! They can only track clicks from their properties, page views via AdSense and page views via Google Analytics.


 6:43 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am getting so tired of sites hotlinking to my images that I am seriously cosidering downloading adware to users that visit sites that hotlink my images.
Instead of a image they get delivered adware.
I can get paid for every adware download so crew them.


 9:43 am on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)


I just had 3 stickies in a row asking how to redirect hotlinked image requests to something containing a logo/URL, ie to become free advertising:

Basically what I do is, if the "Referer" [sic] header is not absent (absent might indicate a legit spider) or from my site(s) (or a whitelisted site) then I send a 302 redirect the small GIF containing my URL. (This does not prevent the determined and clever, but it prevents the 99% of clueless hotlinks.)

I ensure that the replacement GIF is small and cacheable by setting a long (> 2 weeks) expiry time on it, so that I won't waste bandwidth repeatedly serving the GIF to the same user(s) in most cases.

How exactly you do this depends on what type of Web server you are running, eg Apache/IIS/Tomcat/etc, but some of the more specialised fora here at WW should be able to help you out on the details.




 7:46 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Motorhaven, you may be correct, but the question remains: does google see this as an inbound link?


 8:03 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hotlinks go to photos. Image files don't rank or have a link count.


 8:51 pm on May 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Images rank on Google image search.

Of course, it may be that Google image search ends up thinking that the hotlinking page is the one which the graphic "belongs" to, and people clicking on the image in the SERPs get taken to the other site's page...

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