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We allow users to embed our images on their websites.

This looks like this...

<img src="https://example.com/happy-dog.jpg" alt="Happy Dog" />

Note that there is no anchor tag surrounding it - does this mean that the image is just considered a resource and not noted as a backlink? Or does the fact that the resource is linked to an external domain count some way towards SEO?

I can't find any information on the subject that involves an image that is not surrounded by a link.

2 Answers 2

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Google counts other sites using your images in <img src= as a backlink for image search ranking purposes. That usage will pass pagerank to the image and cause the image to rank better in image search.

As far as I can tell, a hot-linked image like this won't help your site rank better in regular Google web search. Any PageRank passed to the image doesn't get passed to other pages on your site because images can't have links in them. Redirecting the image URL to a page breaks the image on the other site and causes Google to stop passing PageRank to it.

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It would ultimately depend on the search engine as there is no technical reason it can't be considered a back link - but I posit this is unlikely because

  • A SRC image would not typically imply an intention to create a back link.
  • The source age would be a poor source of authority for keyword/content of the website.
  • CDN's which distribute images this way would distort the algorythms reducing the quality of the results.

I observe that the above may hold less true for image search.

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  • Thank you for your response - and yes, good point about image search. I think we will have to rely on adding a link to our site either around the image, or in a credit afterwards and hope the majority of users don't remove it. Jan 20, 2021 at 10:12

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