A while ago we published a post discussing how image hotlinking might be beneficial for your site. Naturally we collectively came to the final conclusion that there is more harm than benefit in other sites hotlinking yours:
- it can steal your bandwidth;
- it can result in copyright infringement;
- it can damage your image search rankings (the discussion previously covered by Seroundtable.com).
So here are a few ways to prevent people from hotlinking (beside using your cPanel that normally has “hotlink disabling” option):
- Apache server based : configure your .htaccess file to allow only your domain to access your image files (more info can be found here):
- Windows server based: paid ISAPI Rewrite module or free open source WebKnight application.
Note: hotlink prevention won’t stop Google from indexing and ranking your images in Image Search as it uses your image cached version rather than hotlinking to your image.
If you think your image search traffic is useless and even more, it also steals your bandwidth, you can always remove your images from Google image search: make sure all your images are located in one separate directory and block it with your robots.txt:
Disallow: /images (to stop your image folder from being crawled by anyone)
Disallow: / (to ban Google image search specifically)
Disallow: /*.jpg$ (to prevent Google from crawling all your .jpg files)