|Linking to an image is as good as hotlinking it|
| 8:26 am on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)|
I typed my domain name in Google just to see what would show up and several of the first images returned are mine, but on someone else's domain. I have image hotlink protection turned on via .htaccess and the domain does not show the images but that doesn't change anything, because the site isn't trying to display my image.
What the domain owner has done is simply entered a typical text link consisting of the image url, ending in .jpg, and directing it directly to the image.
That is apparently enough for Google to think the image belongs to this site?!? Since that's apparently the case it puts back into question your hotlink protection, simply stopping someone from displaying an image is not enough, at least with Google.
What more can you do?
| 9:36 am on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)|
You're misinterpreting a simple and valid association of the link with your domain name and the image, which isn't hot-linking and is perfectly valid.
| 11:53 am on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)|
And is a powerful indication that Google evaluates the link targets when scoring a page.
In other words, judicious linking can help your pages rank.
| 11:58 am on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|I typed my domain name in Google just to see what would show up and several of the first images returned are mine, but on someone else's domain. |
So you have
example.com/thisimage.png on your site and Google lists it as
otherdomain.com/thisimage.png, is that what you are saying?
| 12:21 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)|
|That is apparently enough for Google to think the image belongs to this site?!? |
I don't see how you get from A to B. Did you give your site name as a search term or in a "site:." construction? If all you did was search for images involving your sitename, then links to images on your site would be a natural result.
Anyway the joke is on the offending sites because your hotlink routine does prevent their users from seeing your images out of context. At least unless they're savvy enough to right-click, copy the link, and then paste it into their browser's address bar. (I hope the site does not explicitly instruct them to do so, because that would be Evil.) Anyone who tried clicking directly would slam right into the same "Stop Thief!" graphic that your hotlinkers see.
| 2:43 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)|
My experience supports Sgt_Kickaxe's observation. I have long been optimizing for image search using this.
The two factors that seem to matter most to image search are the pagerank of the page containing the image, and the size of the image. So putting a huge image into a high pagerank page will get the image ranked, but not leave much room in the page for other content. Knowing that links to images count the same as embedding the image you can use a different technique. Put a thumbnail of the image in the page and link the thumbnail directly to the large version of the image like this: <a href="original.jpg"><img src="thumb.jpg"></a>