Image Mismatch: The Latest Google Webmaster Tools Manual Action Penalty

google-penalty-squareGoogle has a new manual action penalty within their guidelines named image mismatch.

Image mismatch is when the images on your website do not match what is shown in the Google search results. Google words it as “your site’s images may be displaying differently on Google’s search results pages than they are when viewed on your site.” It is when you are serving Google one image and the user another image, also known as a form of cloaking – but Google doesn’t call it cloaking in their document.

This morning, I covered the first manual action publicly received for this image mismatch notification at the Search Engine Roundtable. I posted this screen shot of the notification of the action:

google-image-mismatch-action-1383745068

What do you do if you receive such a notification?

(1) Make sure that your site displays exactly the same images to users whether viewed directly on your site on within Google image search results. This behavior may be caused by “anti-hotlinking” tools. This may require looking through your site’s code on the server.

(2) Once you’re sure your site’s images are exactly the same when viewed directly on your site and in Google’s search results, request reconsideration of your site.

Of course, those using anti-hotlinking techniques might be upset by this but Google wants the best search experience for users. If the image shown in Google Image search does not match that which is on the site, that would lead to a poor search experience.

Related Articles:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Google: Webmaster Central | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://blackhatpwnage.com/ igl00

    wow that is interesting. seems soon google will have more manual workers than any other company ;)

  • http://blackhatpwnage.com/ igl00

    wow that is interesting. seems soon google will have more manual workers than any other company ;)

  • Kyle Risley

    Hotlinking creates legitimate issues for webmasters. It seems like the onus should be on Google to create a detection mechanism that avoids penalizing this type of behavior instead of forcing it upon the webmasters. Hopefully this only ends up being a corner case.

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/clipping-path-service.html Bijutoha

    Another bomb of Manual Action by Google . It is news when said Hummingbird is a revolution of search engine . As a Optimizer while we were about to give up bad seo, we were called for doing better more.

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/clipping-path-service.html Bijutoha

    Another bomb of Manual Action by Google . It is news when said Hummingbird is a revolution of search engine . As a Optimizer while we were about to give up bad seo, we were called for doing better more.

  • George Seinfeld

    Seems legit, if your site is doing that it’s probably faulty or spammy as hell.

  • George Seinfeld

    Seems legit, if your site is doing that it’s probably faulty or spammy as hell.

  • https://twitter.com/quantumsupport Quantumpcsupport

    No doubt this is interesting. Only Google can think like
    this way. I support Google for such manual penalty. But in case when i update a
    pic in my site and the page or image not cached in few days and Google still
    has the cached copy?

  • https://twitter.com/quantumsupport Quantumpcsupport

    No doubt this is interesting. Only Google can think like
    this way. I support Google for such manual penalty. But in case when i update a
    pic in my site and the page or image not cached in few days and Google still
    has the cached copy?

  • Josh Charig

    In WordPress there is an option to set a featured image. I don’t know whether this image can show up in search results but appears if you share the article over social networks. Does anyone know if this could cause any potential harm?

  • Josh Charig

    In WordPress there is an option to set a featured image. I don’t know whether this image can show up in search results but appears if you share the article over social networks. Does anyone know if this could cause any potential harm?

  • http://n00b.co.il/ Itay Brenner

    Can you tell those scripts to ignore google image bot?

  • http://n00b.co.il/ Itay Brenner

    Can you tell those scripts to ignore google image bot?

  • Jon_Wade

    I use anti-hotlinking for my images but allow Google (and other respected sites) to hotlink away.

    Just a RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !google. [NC] before he image rewrite rule and everybody’s happy.

  • Jon_Wade

    I use anti-hotlinking for my images but allow Google (and other respected sites) to hotlink away.

    Just a RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !google. [NC] before he image rewrite rule and everybody’s happy.

  • Montasir Galive

    limitation is that Still Google can’t identify the image content…

  • Montasir Galive

    limitation is that Still Google can’t identify the image content…

  • tavenger5

    So in other words, sites that lost a ton of traffic when Google changed image search and then put in a ‘click to view full resolution’ watermark to regain that traffic are effed again. Awesome Google…

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