I've read this post Make google index the actual image not the thumbnail but my case is a little different.

I have over a thousand images, in many different directories, with many different names, and in most cases the ones with full resolution are the ones indexed by google (bing is even better), but in some cases the thumbnails are the ones indexed, unfortunately.

I need to have 2 separate images because we add a watermark to all our full-sized images since in the past i caught competitors stealing and using our images of our custom products, therefore, scaling down an image with a watermark would not look good.

The images, when clicked on, lead to a page that displays the full image, with product description and not only the image itself.

90% of these pages are indexed by google and bing, and about 60% of the images (but still going up every day).

Thumbnails are named asd-asd-asd_small.jpg (example) while full resolution pictures are named asd-asd-asd.jpg.

I use A1 Sitemap Generator for all my sitemaps, including images, but since i'm talking about over a thousand images, is there a practical way, easy to implement that would give priority to the full size images on indexing?

1 Answer 1


You seem to already be doing a lot of things right, in that most of your full resolution images are correctly indexed, and this is increasing as Google is indexing your pages.

I'm assuming that you don't want your thumbnails indexed and so you do not include these in your images sitemap.

To exclude the thumbnails entirely from being indexed, you could either:

  • Store your thumbnails in a separate directory and exclude this directory in your robots.txt file. However, this might require a restructuring of your project.


  • Send an X-Robots-Tag: noindex HTTP response header (See: Google Reference) with your thumbnails to exclude them from being indexed. Using .htaccess, something like:

    <Files "*_small.jpg">
    Header set X-Robots-Tag "noindex"
  • Thank you for your answer. I was hoping that there would be a way to let SEs know that there's a full resolution copy of those images, much like rel="canonical" for web pages. If not, even though your answer is correct, and would solve my problem, it's better to have the thumbnails indexed than nothing at all. If there's no other solution, then I would do what you say, but only for those pictures that have both versions indexed, excluding the thumbnails. That would be a lot of work though. I still have hope, so: Is there anything like rel="canonical" for images? Dec 22, 2012 at 20:57
  • And you're right, they're not on the sitemap, but they are in the index of every different directory (every different directory is named after a product) so i'm guessing, that's why they get indexed. Dec 22, 2012 at 20:59
  • In theory you could specify a Link: <full-size-image.jpg>; rel="canonical" HTTP response header. However, Google states that this works "for Web Search only" (not images). Google on rel="canonical". In the thread you link to, the discussion in comments suggests a 301 redirect (for Googlebot) from the thumbnail to the full size image - however, I'm not convinced by this approach.
    – MrWhite
    Dec 22, 2012 at 21:21
  • ...Maybe a 301 redirect from the thumbnail to the full size image when the referer is Google Image Search???
    – MrWhite
    Dec 22, 2012 at 21:24
  • Forgive me if I misunderstood you, or that thread, but wouldn't that cause the actual page to always display the full resolution image instead of the thumbnail, since it's 301 redirected? Dec 22, 2012 at 23:33

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