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Google penalty resulting from unwanted image gallery sites

     
11:05 am on Apr 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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We've been getting hundreds and thousands of spammy links from rubbish, auto-generated image galleries, e.g. <snip> . We're fairly confident this has resulted in a Google penalty. The thing is we've realised the images are actually scraped from Google Images results not from our own website (even the truncated Google Image result's title becomes the alt tag text on their sites!). The site is visible in Google Images which compounds the problem. We're seeing literally tens of new gallery domains linking to us each day... it's relentless.

So the question is how do we stop that? Constantly disavowing these domains is not good enough since they just keep popping up and the performance is still down. It's affected out bottom line so much that we are even happy to sacrifice our Image visibility in favour of fixing this.

Our plan so far is:
1) Disallow Google-Image bot from indexing the whole image assets folder on the site. This will stop Google displaying our images in Image search results and stop making the situation worst
2) Then deal with the existing scrappers and sites which have already logged our image destination URLs by implementing hotlinking... so external websites can't show our images AND will be redirected to a random page that returns a 404 HTTP response. We're hoping this will stop them using our image destiation URLs.
3) Obviously last but not least we will continue updating the disavow file

Could there be anything else done? Can it be fixed in an easier/better way? Obviously we don't want to be losing our Image search visibility but it's only a fraction of conversions we've lost as a result of this issue and we're at the point where we may as well give it a go.

Thanks

[edited by: goodroi at 1:29 pm (utc) on Apr 13, 2017]
[edit reason] Welcome to WebmasterWorld, please follow the forum rules :) [/edit]

3:47 pm on Apr 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator not2easy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Hi vader art and Welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]

When you say
1) Disallow Google-Image bot from indexing
do you mean that you have noindexed the folders where the images are stored or do you mean that you have disallowed Googlebot-Image from crawling those folders? The first option may achieve the objective with time, but the second does not remove your images from being indexed.

I would suggest to first determine whether the copycat domains have scraped your images (since they apparently use your URLs) or whether they are framing your content and should be stopped with other means. You should implement hotlink prevention and see if that handles it first, then dig deeper if it does not stop the abuse.
10:28 am on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I mean we've disallowed Googlebot-Image from crawling those folders. Few days later I can see Google have removed the images from the index (when I do a site:path search in Images) but when I search site:domain-name in Images all our images are still being shown. Any ideas why they still show it despite our images being officially deindexed? Is it just caching and they will disappear over time?

They are not framing the images. They are linking directly to the image on our domain and the page it's featured on. The thing is we have a strong suspicion they are actually scraping it from Google Images directly. We suspect that because:
1) the other images featured in their galleries are very similar to the Google image search result for the given search term
2) the alt tag they add to gallery images gets truncated at exactly the same point the title of the image is truncated in Image search results (when you click on the image in search results and see the bigger preview of the image).
If this indeed is the case then we really need to stop being featured in Google Images and then implement the hotlinking.
10:49 am on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld vader_art

Most likely, if the images have been blocked you'll have to wait until Google's own index at that particular data center updates with the latest info from its crawler. Google uses many data centers and each will have to update.
Having blocked it, it could be a matter of hours, or days, but it will eventually go.

If you're talking about others scraping from Google, then, it'll eventually change with the update from Google.

If they are scraping directly from your site you'll require a different approach.
10:54 am on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Are all these image directory sites hosted at the same company? If so, file a C&D.