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Hotlinking is bad? Perhaps not for SEO

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday December 2, 2010 )

Hotlinking is where a site displays an image or object on a page that is stored on another site. Usually people will hotlink images without the permission of the owner of the site being referenced, causing additional bandwidth consumption for the source site.

Hotlinking raises the ire of many site owners and understandably so. Back in 2006, I wrote an article on how to prevent hotlinking; but before you race off and implement the recommendations, there’s something I wanted to mention.

It never really occurred to me until today when reading a few articles on the topic that allowing hotlinks may have some up side in regards to search engine optimization.

When Google spiders a site that directly references another site’s images; it can follow that reference and may see that as a “vote” or endorsement; the similar sort of deal with a link to the original site. So instead of link love, “image love” is passed on that may play a role in rankings.

I’m not saying this is what happens, but it makes sense that it may play a role. It might not pass on a lot of ranking power; but if you’re duking it out with another merchant in search engine rankings and there’s very little between the two of you, it may just be enough to give you an edge.

However, that said, if sites that reference your images directly from your server annoys the heck out of you; here’s how to help stop hotlinking.


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