Hotlinking Images – Don’t Do It

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There is a post on the blogoscoped site dealing with people getting high rankings by hotlinking images from other sites. It’s an interesting idea, but now that the word is out I’m sure search engines will change and this practice will not work any more.

In case you don’t know, a hotlinked image is one that you place on your site and connect to from someone else’s site.

When you place an image on your site what you actually put on the page is a link to the picture. The browser copies that picture and places it on the page where it belongs. If that image is on your site in a folder, you have put the image there and have complete control over what it actually is. If you were to link your webpage to an image on someone else’s server, that’s called hotlinking.

There are two main problems with hotlinking.

First, when a visitor’s browser copies an image or text (or any file) from your site the amount of data that is transfered is metered and is called “bandwidth”. The bandwidth for the picture that is hosted on another site and you have put on your site is charged, not to your site, but to the other site where it is actually copied from. So even though the picture appears to be on your site, it’s not and you are stealing their bandwidth. Most people do this unintentionally and bandwidth like most data storage is getting less expensive, but in any event you are still stealing.

Second, since the picture is on someone else’s site you have no control over it. If they delete the picture from their site or change the name it will instantly disappear from your site. They could also change the picture and keep the same name and you would have another picture on your site of the other site owners choosing.

So if you see a picture that you want on your site, copy it (with permission of course). Place it on to your site and link to that.

On one of my sites (FastDiscountBanners.com) people used to hotlink to my images before I eventually turned that feature off so hotlinking wasn’t allowed anymore.
Before that I used to swap images when I found someone hotlinking. So when they opened their webpage and expected to see
Happy Birthday
they got…
Don't Steal Our Bandwidth

It could have said or shown something much worse.



  1. Ive noticed that the content thieves either are hotlinkers and just steal my images or they re-upload them on their own servers and now its not hotlinking but content theft and I have to hire either a law firm or a dmca takedown agency in order to takedown the copyright infringing content.

    Comment by David Hudston — January 2, 2019 @ 4:04 pm

  2. You might want to not let others share your bandwidth, but I believe that every bit of energy and every cent spent *Fighting Piracy* is completely wasted.

    Focus all of your resources on pleasing your fans and you’ll never look back.

    Comment by Jim — January 2, 2019 @ 4:35 pm

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