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Other sites linking to my images . good, bad or neutral?

 7:42 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is perhaps a really junior question but I am really curious to learn what the answer might be. :-)

I noticed in my logs that I was getting a lot of referrals from one page of a corporate blog. I checked out the page and found that they are linking directly to a few images from my site.

As I was writing my "stop stealing my images" email to the site owner, I started to wonder. The images are relatively generic, so my site is not being hurt by the images being on another site. And they are small and not getting a crazy amount of hits, so the bandwidth they're using is negligible.

Is there any benefit at all in just leaving it alone and allowing my URL to remain in their code? It's not a link users can follow, but it is a link. Or is it bad to leave that out there - strictly from a SE standpoint? Or does it not make a difference?



 8:40 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Many replies (or none) might result, but I personally block all such hotlinking on principle: I'm not paying for anyone's website by absorbing the cost of hosting images for others.


 9:03 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I interviewed the flying spaghetti monster guy six years ago and he was a fan of hotlinking. But those images were related to his site so they carried propaganda/promotional value. Is it possible to put a site credit within the image?

Curiously, the search engines used to list hotlinks as backlinks. Haven't seen this lately though.


 9:46 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Search engines have being doing their best to obfuscate backlinks for some time now. I am a fan of any hot link citation (it is a link to your domain from someone else's site)

Even if it is giving me no benefit now, it may do at some point in the future - algorithms are always changing.


 10:53 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

i'm with ian turner.

although i agree that it is giving my bandwidth away and i would consider it an issue if the image/s were called a LOT.

however a hotlink is effectively a citation and that is a good thing. i've never worried too much about what might be a ranking effect right now, but rather what makes my site look good and surely if my images are being hotlinked then that is good - and at some point a search engine will agree with this!

i am hotlinked on countless blogs, i used to get in a fury about this until i realised that many of them gave me a link back too - (not all, but enough for me not to block all hotlinking on principle)


 3:53 am on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks. At a gut level it makes sense that there could be some value there, but I wasn't sure.

I am taking my finger off of the trigger and will refrain from calling them on it.


 10:03 am on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

If somebody uses my images I am perfectly happy subject to four conditions:
1. They ask
2. They host a copy on their own site
3. They credit me
4. They give me a link
My views on hotlinking are the same as Tangor

I did slap down one site for not complying with those terms (posted on my site) which was a difficult email to phrase as I am in a very close knit music niche and the perpetrator and I are bound to have mutual friends or acquaintances.


 1:20 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hotlinkers piss me off big time. I was letting out 2gb a day to them before I put a stop to it. I have seen sites go offline because of hotlinkers (they ate all of the owners monthly b/w).


 1:31 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am in the process to develop a picture gallery for a new site hoping that it attracts SE traffic somehow (from keywords) and links from hotlinkers. although there is the bandwidth issue, there are also benefits (publicity).
if you can, replace the pictures with a branded copy, so you get some additional benefit.


 1:39 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

although there is the bandwidth issue, there are also benefits (publicity).
Yeah, your site going offline, or a request for more money from your hosting provider if you want to stay online. Yeah, great benefit. </sarcasm>

I get them to host the file, and to link back. Far better.

One person I know will go for your adsense account if you hotlink to her images. (If adsense - or similar program - is on the same page)


 1:57 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I usually block hotlinking of images as I used to have big problems with people linking to my images from myspace profiles, etc. It would just suck up the bandwidth.

I am sure that there is some SE value from having people hotlink your images, but you have to weigh it up with the possible bandwidth costs.

You could also have some fun with hotlinkers by renaming an image on your site. Keep the old one up, but change it to something like "this site is stealing an image from example.com". You soon find that people stop hotlinking ;)


 11:10 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Big-scale hotlinkers may not realize how much they're affecting their visitors' experience, thereby harming their own site. Have you ever visited a page that was made entirely out of hotlinked images? Those things can take several minutes to load up-- sometimes to the point where I get tired of waiting and click the X button. You can watch the action in your browser's progress bar. If the images were hosted locally, visitors would get them all right away and they'd enjoy the page a lot more.

Robert Charlton

 12:47 am on Nov 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm with blocking the hotlinkers. I'd even go so far as to say that, for certain kinds of images, the uniqueness of the image and its exclusive connection to your site might be a ranking factor.


 1:39 pm on Nov 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

waht is the exact definition of Hotlinking please?


 4:49 pm on Nov 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

My definition is simply serving an image from a site other than the one on which the page is hosted.

It doesn't matter if both sites are owned by the same person, if another person is using the image with permission or if they are stealing bandwidth it is all hotlinking.


 6:03 pm on Nov 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is there any benefit at all in just leaving it alone and allowing my URL to remain in their code?

I might have missed it, but do you place your site name visibly on the images? If you don't block them and they don't give you an obvious clickable link, the domain name on the image at least lets prople know where it came from.

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