Posted June 27, 2007 1:22 pm by with 14 comments

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I see questions pop up in the forums every once in awhile with people asking if images that are linked to a website count as links. A link is a link so the answer would be yes. But what about images that are not surrounded by link (a href) tags. Can an image on it’s own count as a link? Well according to Yahoo Site Explorer they do.

I was reading a magazine the other day when I came across an article on JangoMail. Liking what I read I went to check them out. Being the SEO freak I am I had to check their backlinks even though my visit had nothing to do with SEO. Does anyone else here suffer from that disorder?

Anyway, back on track. The first thing I notice when checking JangoMail’s backlinks is they are full of home page listings. Usually that throws up a huge paid links red flag but upon further investigation there are not any links pointing to JangoMail within the sites listed on the first page of Yahoo backlink results. The only thing every site has in common is a simple 1×1 tracking image who’s source is JangoMail’s domain.

Example: <img src=””>

There’s not an <a href=””></a> surrounding the image tag on any of these sites. So why is Yahoo counting these as links in Site Explorer? Is this just a Site Explorer bug or does Yahoo really weigh these the same as they would a normal link? I’d love to hear an official response from Yahoo on this one.

  • If it makes you feel any better the first thing I do when I hear about a site (radio, tv, print, internet, whatever) is check their links and see if they rank for any terms I’d look for them with.

    It’s an illness for sure but I don’t know if there is any known cure.

  • I think it’s important to keep in mind that having a search engine recognize (or “count”) a link is one thing, but actually getting credit for it may be something else. I haven’t looked at the site you reference or their backlinks — is there anything that suggests these unlinked images are actually being credited and helping (in the SEO sense)?

  • “Does anyone else here suffer from that disorder?”

    Yep, I do the same as you and SEO Refugee even when there is no real reason to do so. Glad to hear that I am not alone.

    I think it is good to have this problem though because how else would we learn from others if we didn’t investigate everything?

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  • Nice find, Jeremy. Something to look for in Site Explorer results for a few of our client’s sites. Did you end up giving JangoMail a try? It seems like it may be a little pricy for your average business owner, but the Agency features are excellent.

  • I think I have the same disease as you guys.

  • @Matt

    That’s the real question. Yahoo counts links in their algo and Site Explorer shows these at links. So do these links count towards the algo or is this a Site Explorer bug? It wouldn’t take much experimentation to find out but that’s up to each individual SEO. I can’t do all the work for you. šŸ˜‰

  • Nice find Jeremy. Add me to the list of people who have the disorder. I have a tendency to view the source code of too many sites as well.

    I guess Yahoo spiders are just out there looking for a mention of a URL instead of taking notice where that URL might be in the code. It might be interesting to randomly add URLs in comments or in the text of a page to see if they get picked up there as well or if the =” ” needs to be present.

    And I guess we all have some experimenting to do to see if these “links” are counting in the algo.

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  • I think this should be a Site Explorer bug, as SE is already known to be very buggy. I already reported two bugs before via their feedback interface and once some SE employer replied back, telling they were going to work on it -The problem was about character encoding.

  • >> Iā€™d love to hear an official response from Yahoo on this one.

    I submitted the issue on SE feedback page, I think they’ll answer it soon:

  • Not only that, I also noticed Y! counted some nofollow links! There is much wrong with the current SE but the good thing is that they’re working on it.

  • Very interesting subject. Will be watching cloesly for the Yahoo response. I would think that this may actually be a viable measure of site importance. Consider ad serving and ad tracking engines. If these solutions are heavily deployed, is that not a valid SEO link “vote” by using the software?

  • Interesting.

    @Perde – I noticed there is still no reply.

    as for nofollow links – I know google shows them in the webmaster tool section.

    Now you have me wondering if yahoo does include that. If they do – then flickr must really have a lot of links.