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Do images count as links?



2:26 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I wasnt able to find answer to this question - if you use an image on your website, and you "hotlink" the image from another website - does it count as a link, in Google's point of view?

Nothing bad in mind, just want to avoid direct linking to an affiliate program, but still use their hosted banners.


3:20 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

A link is a link. Having said that I do not agree that Google is penalizing affiliate websites - if a website is being penalized there is something else going on as well; there are plenty of people, including myself, who have affiliate links and no penalty whatsoever.


5:27 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have never mentioned the word "penalty".

I am asking, does "hotlinking" an image (i.e. puting the other website's image URL as the "src" of your website's image) counts as a link to that website.


5:53 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Its not a link if you mean simply having the <img src="www.othersite.com/image.gif"> on your site.

Its only a link if there's an <a>nchor tag surrounding the image, or the image is an image map and the <map> tag has an href pointing to the other site (covering my bases on the fly here).


5:54 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've been thinking about this as well lately.

It is a link but to an image, to a site is debatable.

That said, can an image accumulate PR? That's an interesting one and does that help for Goolge Images?

Given the number of links to my site, I'm starting to think that links to images, by people hotlinking to my pics on their sites or blogs is indeed counted as a link.

Anybody else have any thoughts on this puppy?


7:09 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've heard SEOs mention this supposition before: that allowing someone to deliver images on their site pages, served up from your servers, might give your site higher PageRank, similar to people linking to pages on your site.

Here's my take: I think it could possibly help with rankings of those images within Image Search, but not in regular web search results. The citation of your image is an indication that it might be more important and authoritative for various keywords, if each of the sites calling your image are passing the same keywords in the ALT text for it, and in surrounding caption text and such.

But, it would not really make sense for Google to just use image citations as a measure for overall PR of a site I think, since some people hostilely or lazily use images served by other domains, and also some sites are just image hosting services. An image hosting service that allows people to deliver up a picture of a "widget", isn't necessarily authoritative for "widgets" just because lots of people use its photo. So, that wouldn't be a good, strong signal for site/page relevance, IMHO. But, it is a good signal that that may be a very representative image for "widgets", so that could be a really good indicator they could use for rankings/relevance for Image Search results.

Even better would be for you to host your images through an Image Sharing site, and link up the main page for that image on the image sharing site to your site page about that subject/image on your own domain. Then, if people use code from the image sharing site which hyperlinks the image back to the page for it on the image sharing site, it will build ranking for that keyword, and that page's PR could trickle back to the associated page on your website.

Sounds convoluted when I try to describe it, but it's really pretty straightforward.

If you can get people to hyperlink any images they use from your site, back to your site, or back to an image hosting site as I describe above, THEN it can help with your PR for regular web search results.

Hyperlinks = good for building rank. IMG SRCs = much weaker or ineffective for building rank.


10:29 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A image with a URL is a web document.
All web documents can earn PageRank.

There is a Firefox add-on that will show the PageRank of anything a link points to. This add-on shows that even email addresses can earn PageRank.

SEO Hint: Scrutinize your internal links for things you do not want to pass PageRank or linking strength to. These can include direct links to email addresses and images. Nofollow these links. I do not claim that this will vault your pages up several notches, but if you have a carefully conceived site architecture and internal linking plan, why potentially water down the strength of your internal links? It's akin to building an off-ramp to a cul-de-sac.

[edited by: Komodo_Tale at 10:56 pm (utc) on Feb. 13, 2007]


10:37 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

"I am asking..."

The answer is no.


10:55 pm on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How does Google determine which images appear first on image search? They surely aren't tied in solely to the PR of the page they appear on. I can verify that from my site.

When my site first nosedived in 2004, I had the first 3-4 images listed for searches for months afterward. In fact, I was getting more traffic from Google Images than from regular Google Search.

There must be some other consideration for how images rank. It would seem to be logical to factor in which pages on the Internet display those images.

[edited by: AndyA at 10:55 pm (utc) on Feb. 13, 2007]


1:11 am on Feb 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Komodo_Tale, you're right in the sense that images /could/ be set to have PageRank associated with them, but in practice they're set not to do so. At least, it's not the same value that's used to report PageRank of web pages.

Example: go directly to the Internet Archive logo in your browser, and if you're using the Google Toolbar, you'll see that the image displays a zero PageRank. Since this is an image on the front page of a PR 9 website, I'd expect it could display some PR if your theory was right.

Andy_A is right. Google appears to use different/additional signals for the ranking of images for Image Search.

Again, number of links to a particular image may help with rankings in Image Search results, but it likely does not help a site or page's ranking in the regular web search results.


6:40 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I had thumbnails pointing to larger images on my website. Due to hosting space limitations, I had to move the images on another machine, create a subdomain that points there.

Now instead of images being <a href='mydomain.com/largeimage.jpg'><img src='mydomain.com/thumbnail.jpg'/></a> Now both the thumbnails and the large images are stored in a subdomain so the urls look like subdomain.mydomain.com/image.jpg.

After about 10 days of doing this the traffic from both yahoo and google fell down, which is a sign of losing rank. Now, I'm not talking about loosing traffic only from google due to google update since the ratio of google/yahoo referrals almost didn't change - so the negative effect showed from both.

Now I have enough experience to believe it hurts ranking to store images outside your domain. I don't know whether that will leak pagerank out to the new subdomain or not!

I have almost 80,000 pages linking to more than 200,000 images and thumbnails.


7:06 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Color me skeptical. Since the text search indeces of the major search engines do not contain graphics files, why on earth would they care about these files at all in terms of text search rankings? I'd be happy to accept that there's some PageRank-like effects for image searches, but nothing for text searches. Is there any evidence that Googlebot is regularly requesting graphics files? I've never seen it.

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