How To Keep Your Pictures From Appearing In Searches

After I had kids I became concerned with how to balance blogging with protecting my kids' privacy online, but particularly when it comes to pictures of my kids.  I actually wrote a whole post about protecting blog images here, and I describe some of the ways I do that.

However, one thing that kept bothering me was that I would get visits to my blog through pictures of my kids that showed up in Google Image searches.  Not that anyone was searching for anything inappropriate, but it just made me uncomfortable to have pictures of them showing up in random searches.  Because my kids are so cute, who wouldn't want to steal their pictures, right?

I actually disabled my blog with search engines for a while to try to keep that from happening.  But after a while I felt the Lord was telling me to make it open to search engines again.  So I did, but I still didn't like the picture thing.

Then one day I decided there must be a way to tell Google not to index the images on my site, so I did some research - and lo and behold, I figured it out!  All you have to do is edit your robot.txt file to tell Google not to index your images!

Yeah, that deer-in-the-headlights look you probably have right now?  That was my reaction too.  But this is easier than it sounds.


First of all, when should you do this, and when should you not?  Good question.  Here's what I think.

Do Use This Tutorial If:

1.  You are getting visits through pictures of your kids using keywords that are inappropriate. I think you should definitely consider it in that case.  There are weird people out there.

2. You are uncomfortable with pictures of your kids showing up in searches.

3.  If you may have kids in the future and don't like the thought of their pictures showing up in searches.

Carefully Consider Whether To Use This Tutorial If:

1. You get a significant amount of traffic that is helping your site from image searches.  If you have ads on your blog, you need to be aware that preventing your blog images from being indexed will affect your traffic in some way.  If that is a problem for you for whatever reason, don't do it.


Okay, if you are still wanting to ask Google not to file your images, proceed.

Take the following bit of code . . .

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /

Go to "Settings" on your Dashboard:

Then "Search Preferences":

Then click the "edit" button next to the words Custom robot.txt, select "Enable", and then paste the code into the box.  Don't forget to save your changes!

And wolla!  Your images won't show up in Google searches anymore!

I would like to note that you shouldn't expect the images to disappear from Google overnight if you didn't have your blog set up this way from the start.  It takes time for Google's little bots to come crawl your site and see the changes.  Your privacy settings for your image hosting site can also affect this, but that is probably a different post.

You should also be aware that any images that you post of your kiddos on other people's blogs, like for guest posts or linkups, may still show up in Google searches.  It also does not prevent people from pinning your images, so they will still show up in searches from Pinterest.

It's not fool-proof, and some images are likely going to sneak through here and there.  But I've noticed a big decrease in the amount of visits I get from image searches, and hardly any come through from pictures of my kids anymore.

This gives me a lot of peace of mind about posting pictures of my kids on my public blog.  I do, however, still recommend watermarking and using other methods to protect your photos (and again, you can read more about that in the "Protecting Your Pictures" post I wrote).

You can read more about how to block specific images from searches here.

Any other tips for protecting pictures that I haven't covered?  I always like to hear how you protect your images, or whether that's even important to you!


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Allison Rebecca said...

Thank you Callie! I have had this on my mind for some time now and didn't know where to find the information for this. Thank you so much for sharing! Hope all is well with your sweet family!

Hannah said...

so good to know! thank you for sharing this. One thing I'm not crazy about is that my baby's pictures could be seen by anyone.

Jessica said...

Great to know!!

Sarah said...

Thank you! I always wondered if there was a way to do this... glad you made it easy to understand. I appreciate your willing heart. :)

Ms. J said...

This is great!! Thank you!!

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