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Do Image Hotlinks Have Any Link Value?

Any Value at All?

   
12:38 pm on Jan 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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



So it's a common practice to call hotlinking stealing bandwidth. Personally I prefer people link to the page than the image. But what can you do? Or should you?
12:34 pm on Feb 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I would like to know if there are any benefits. There seems to be no consensus about that.

I like the suggestion in this thread [webmasterworld.com] of adding your URL to images. You could even only serve a version of the image with the URL added if the referrer is not from your site.
10:04 pm on Feb 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



martinibuster, are you talking about images that show up on page load, or clickable links? A clicked link may not be so bad, because there's a chance that the surrounding text says something about your site-- and the user's address bar does at least end up showing your sitename. But there's no way for your server to distinguish between this and a "pure" hotlink; all it sees is a referer.

If you're talking about images that show up on page load, there's another aspect. Hotlinking creates a horrendous experience for the user. You don't notice it if a page just has one or two hotlinked images. But when a page has dozens of hotlinks, the thing takes hours to load up. Sometimes it's because the site owner is an idiot and has vast images resized in html. But it's also the time spent looking up all those separate hosts. The nanoseconds add up.
10:43 am on Feb 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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You could write a script that checks whether there is a link on the referring page before serving the image. It would have to cache the result for performance, but should otherwise be straightforward.

That still leaves the question of what to do if they do not link.
2:03 pm on Feb 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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



Well, this is a very interesting discussion thanks to your contributions! :)

Lucy's right about a page with hotlinked images loading slower. This is an issue that's particular to forum pages where members hotlink to image hosting sites. Although there may be value in hotlinking out to images, I would like to focus the discussion on our own images being hotlinked.

For the link building value, I really like the idea of watermarking a hotlinked image with the originating URL. Anything to bring awareness, mindshare, and traffic is good.
6:09 am on Mar 13, 2014 (gmt 0)



From what I have seen from my one site, it shows as counted link. Nobody nofollows a hotlinked image or anything of the like.
 

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