Allow Or Disallow Image Hot Linking? That Is The Question

Aug 13, 2010 • 8:10 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO
 

The practice of hot linking is when you source an image form a third-party web site, on your own. Meaning, you don't even bother grabbing the image off the third-party web site and placing it on your server, instead, you just call the image, in real-time, off the third-party server.

In many cases, this is normal. For example, I host most of our images shown on this site on Flickr. I pay Flickr a fee to host my images there and I then source the images from them, in real-time, so I don't have to worry about hosting the images and because I like their image service.

But when you source images from a competitors web site, it can get hairy.

A WebmasterWorld thread has one web site owner asking if he should prevent the hot linking from happening or allow it? His rational is that hot linking may help his site be seen as more authoritative in the search engines, and if he allows it, it is a small cost to his overall bandwidth bill. But at this point, he said 20% of his 'visits' come via hot linking and he is concerned it is paying a toll on his server.

Senior member, wheel, said:

My thoughts are that I wouldn't worry about hotlinking until it becomes a load issue.

Of course, if you want to get even with a competitor, you can always use mod_rewrite techniques to serve up a different image to that competitor. So it the image is of a sofa, maybe put a car. If you really want to get them, maybe say, this image is provided by MySite.com, 5% off the price of this site, or something like that.

What would you do?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Comments:

Alan K'necht

08/13/2010 12:30 pm

I've never appreciated hot linking. In my opinion it's not a link but theft of a bandwidth. You are paying for it in your hosting contract and if enough images are being streamed, there is a cost to you. Not sure if Google gives any value to links for images beyond displaying them in Google Images. If you're going to steal images off my site, please give credit to the image with a proper link to my site and have the decency to host the image on your own server.

Tiggerito

08/13/2010 01:17 pm

I once changed hotlinked images to a websites logo so the image became an advert. Maybe dynamically adding a URL watermark would be a way to take advantage of it.

Zhomart

08/16/2010 09:07 am

I don't worry about hotlinking with my photohosting, because picture automatically has link for my service :)

SEO Professionals

08/22/2011 06:33 am

Your website's bandwidth can be stolen by HotLinking an image from your site. So, with the HotLink protection, you can prevent it by replacing the desired image with another image that you can choose. For an example, you can direct visitors to your site by putting a description that says 'this image belongs to another website', please go to 'your website's URL' to see the original image. This way, the visitor will be brought to you website.

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