Q: I am a Hollywood agent and we are not happy with some of the images that Google shows when you search for names of some of our clients. Where does Google get these images and how can I request that they remove them?
A: We’ll use the search results for the actor Paul Rudd as an example. Here is a screenshot showing the image thumbnails on Google when you search for the phrase “paul rudd”:
In this example, the image results are sourced in a variety of sites, including wikipedia.com, exposay.com, thehunkies.com, movieeye.com, biographyworld.net and so on. You can see where the images come from by rolling over each thumbnail and looking at the URL.
If there are offensive or problematic images in your clients’ results, here are some approaches you can take to improving them:
- Compete for these positions with your own images on your own website. Gaining a position among these thumbnails requires that your site compete within image listings in the same way that webpages compete for web search rankings.
- Contact the owners of the site that posted the offending images, and request that the images be taken down. (This is sometimes called a “takedown notice”). You can challenge them based on copyright violations or other applicable violations.
- Google will only remove listings in extremely limited circumstances: if another site publishes confidential information such as social security number or bank account number. See Google’s help page on this topic.
If you decide to compete for these positions, here are some basic image ranking factors that will help your website’s images rank well:
- Images must be accessible to the search engines. Make sure you aren’t disallowing search engines from indexing your images with the robots.txt file.
- Images filenames should contain target keywords. In this example, a filename such as paulrudd or paul-rudd.jpg would be a good idea
- Image captions and other text on the page should contain target keywords
- The images should be placed on individual pages – one page for each image – and there must be links pointing to these pages
- A domain with a high level of authority, based on overall inbound links from high-quality websites, will have a better chance of gaining high ranks in image search .
We hope it goes without saying that getting a high rank for a celebrity name search is going to be highly competitive. Rather than reinventing the wheel, you may want to simply work on making sure that your clients’ preferred pics are nicely distributed to as many legit webmasters as possible. That way, the other sites will do the job for you!