Support » Everything else WordPress » Google Images redesign (Jan. 2013), traffic drop and workaround

  • [Moved to Miscellaneous Forum – this isn’t really a WordPress issue]


    It’s being documented by numerous webmasters on various forum (see links below): Google Images redesign –implemented around Jan. 25, 2013– allows user to get hi-res version of any image without visiting the website where the image is hosted, resulting in significant loss in traffic from /imgres referral (which can be monitored from Google Analytics>Traffic Sources>Referrals>click on “”)

    This post is not about throwing stones or calling names, nor panicking, but simply documenting possible workaround. Solutions exist: see for example
    And try to get hi-res version of those images: you’ll be redirected to the actual page of the original website where the image is hosted (NOT simply redirected to the home page of said website).

    I believe it’s a kind of hotlinking protection, but I’m not sure how it works. Furthermore, hotlinking protection is a delicate tool to use:
    1) You don’t want your image NOT to be indexed by Google Images
    2) You need some bot to be able to access them: Facebook, Twitter (for their OpenGraph protocol), etc.

    So I was wondering if anyone has some experience about this issue. Relevant links follow:!topic/websearch/l8HrtHF_dzs!topic/websearch/l8HrtHF_dzs



Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)
  • I second, third, and fourth that sentiment.

    If anyone can tell us how to do this on WordPress, they will be my new best friend (admittedly that’s not a very good prize).



    I have also searching for this solution, Trying to hover a layer on the pic with jquery and redirect that one too your post using php like hust attachment to post, a combo of that .. or something

    Till I find that one, I block google image bot.

    Jordan, I think being your best friend would be great! Anyone who can get this working on WordPress would also be my best friend as we’ve seen a 50% drop in Google traffic since this change was implemented.

    Yet again another Google update which penalises the little guy. So frustrating!


    It’s so frustrating because this update is not in any way about improving the relevance of results, it is only about improving Google’s bottom line at the expense of publishers!

    Traffic has dropped by about 30% in the last week, thanks to Google Images’ scraping tactics. I’ve already vented my disgust elsewhere, so I won’t do it here…

    A few days ago, we began blocking blank referrers via .htaccess — that’s the only way we’ve found to block Google Images from displaying our high-res. images and using up our bandwidth. However, that means we’ve inadvertently blocked every bot’s indexing of our images (not only Google’s bot, but also Yahoo’s and Bing’s). In the last five or six days, none of our images have been indexed by the three major search engines.

    If anyone figures out a way to prevent Google Images from hotlinking to your images — without actually blocking their bot from crawling your site, that would be phenomenal.

    I’m sure there’s a *technical* solution somewhere (see Parneix’s link above) — in other words, one that doesn’t involve a petition or a lawsuit.

    A proper ‘redirect’ solution would be a fantastic start, though I think you’ll still find that traffic will be decreased as the lower res image that Google shows people now (as if they own it) will be good enough for a lot of people.

    But Google only shows lower res. images *if* their hotlinking is blocked. Else, they show high-res. images. At least, that has been our experience.

    We’ve noticed an increase in traffic — about 15%-20% — since we began implementing the hotlinking block. However, we’re still about 30% below our pre-late Jan. levels.

    The fact that our new images haven’t gotten indexed anywhere is surely part of the problem.

    But yes, a redirect to the page where the image is located would be great…

    Ah, and something else worth remembering, and this is actually a good thing: It’s not just the “little guy” that has been affected. Huge sites that rely on images for a good chunk of their traffic have been *badly* affected as well.

    Only one website has come out on top in this mess: Google.

    For what it’s worth: there’s now an online solution over at

    I’m glad to see this post! Yes, we need an emergency fix for this.

    My traffic from Google Images dropped at least 30% when they switched to the new format. Prior to this, you could use a simple plugin to break out of the frame at Google so that when someone clicked on a thumbnail they’d get redirected to your site page automatically. None of this works anymore.

    The “solution” in the previous post is just a petition.

    There is a plugin and some code called “Break Google Dance”. Has anyone tried it?

    I’m not a great programmer but it seems as though some code could check to see if the referrer is Google and if so, redirect to the full page instead of just showing the photo.

    Parneix, the site you mention in your first post has figured out the solution. If you know them, could you please ask them for the code?

    As a side note, I’ve installed the “Break Google Dance” plugin and code and I can say that it mostly works, but it breaks if you hit View Page first and come back to view the original image. I posted that issue for the author.

    One thing I’ll say is that when I installed the code I went from 30 users online to 180 online, most of which are coming in through Google again. That should give you an idea of the impact of this problem. Thanks.


    I did write to them and they kindly answered: all the coding was handled by a web development company whom they paid. They could not provide me with any technical information.

    I don’t know them personally, I simply used the contact form on their page to get in touch with the webmaster.


    I tried the “Break Google Dance” but eventually removed it. Here’s why. I installed it early this morning and instantly noticed about 8x more traffic from Google Images. At first I thought this was great but after monitoring it throughout the morning I realized that I was getting a lot of traffic but not getting any additional revenue from AdSense. Then, as it got later in the morning and the East Coast kicked in, I watched my server load gradually skyrocket to the point where my server was about to crash, so I removed the code. I’m not really sure what to make of all this. Maybe there are just too many hits to the htaccess code and plugin code.

    It also breaks my Pinterest Widget (Pinterest keeps saying the image link is invalid).

    As far as Google Image itself, I was posting new images during the time I was running the plugin but none were added to Google’s database. After deactivating the plugin, a couple of new thumbnails appeared but none of the full-size images have appeared even as of tonight. I hope I haven’t been blocked for using this code. I’ll find out in a while when I start posting again.

    Using the Google Breakdance plugin. Actually I just took the code and added it to functions.php and htacess. Seems to be working out fine. Don’t know about any server load issues yet.

    Something is going to have to be done about Google. The ammount of power they have is just dangerous.

    For those curious, the plugin is called “Google Break Dance”. The instructions and comment are in Indonesian (I think) but can be translated with the help of Google Translate).

    My question would be:

    1) How those the plugin affect the installation exactly? Hotlinking protection can be tricky. For example, is using those services, Facebook and Twitter must be allow to link to images. Those the plugin target specifically Google Images bot?

    2) How does the plugin impact the indexation of images. One way to study that would be to monitor Google Webmaster Tools. Images can be submitted to index manually (code in WordPress installation) or with the use of a plugin.

    I understand the plugin is a workaround. Just trying to improve the documentation.


    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


    🏳️‍🌈 Plugin Review Team Rep

    I added this to my robots.txt:

    User-agent: Googlebot-Image
    Disallow: /

    Then I put in my usual anti-hotlink code:

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)
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