set up a RewriteRule in your .htaccess:
- if the request is an image file
- if a Referer request header is provided
- if that referrer is not your domain
- 403 GFY
this won't catch unreferred hotlinks but it also won't forbid visitors who don't/can't provide Referer HTTP request headers.
Are all your images in folders? If that be the case, you could just change the folder name and adjust Dreamweaver to coinside.
Is that a possibility?
Thanks. Both seem like good solutions.
The one thing that's nagging at me is whether hot links provide any link value for Google.
>The one thing that's nagging at me is whether hot links provide any link value for Google.
i'm not sure, but i've a feeling it might, or it might in the future with an important engine, it feels like a vote in the spirit of the original page ranking idea to me.
OT - do you set the expires header into the future for images, this can cut down the calls to the image and save processing.
the one thing for sure i totally agree with the idea of hotlinking will matter, may matter more than we know now but will matter quite a bit more in future. have you tracked where these hotlinkers are coming from?
I haven't had the time to track anywhere near the total number, but I know a lot of them come from niche-related forums. More often than not, forum members will post a link to the page that features the product, but others will link just to the product photo.
I have no way of measuring the value (or no value) of hotlinking, but my gut tells me that it could be regarded as some sort of vote for the site. After all, the SE doesn't know if the photo is original or not.
In my experience, I thought it was more trouble than it was worth... So I just turned on hotlink blocker. Virtually 99% of it was just people looking to make some point in a forum, and they just wanted to use any old photo to do it. If people really want to suggest a product, they put the link to the page. Only drawback is that I can't even post just a photo myself, so I have to use a separate server space for that. I tried to fix it so only some of my domains blocked, but it screwed everything up. So I just blocked all of it.
I think any and all inlinks will help your site's ranking in google. You may even get some traffic from google's image search.
Organic links from forums are definitely worth having. I suggest you upgrade to better hosting. Hosting is cheap these days.
Definitely return 404 error codes whenever someone attempts to load the image onto another domain. .htaccess does this extremely well, some great threads on it exist in the apache web server forum.
a 404 Not Found [w3.org] is suitable for the task, but a 403 Forbidden [w3.org] response is more precise.