Google Sees What You Hide in Images

by Ruud Hein November 23rd, 2007 

An image can comfortably replace text we rather not expose directly to Google.

If a review requires disclosure and you want to avoid the Wrath of Google, maybe putting "sponsored review" in an image is so much smarter.

Or not.

Google & Image Spam

01:22: "Dreaded image spam. These embedded images not only cost you time, but they hog memory and clock bandwidth. They're also tough to catch.

But not for us... Optical Character Recognition from Google Book Search helps us block image spam before it gets to you."

  • Google can OCR process images either on-the-fly or in near real-time
  • Hiding text in images is now as useless as using document.write('hide from Google')
  • Using large images to overlap (search engine) visible text is useless
  • Could this technique be combined with facial recognition to come up with an auto-flagging feature for dubious sites?


Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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9 Responses to “Google Sees What You Hide in Images”

  1. Sounds like more fear than practical.

    Google will be leaking bandwidth and computing power all over the place, if it tries to scan every image.

    When you check the cache of your pages, do the images cached by Google or still on your server?

  2. bLuefRogX says:

    I don't see them doing this for regular websites anytime soon, the sheer computing power it'd take would probably offset the benefits, and even if they do, it wouldn't be that hard to skew the text so its harder to read, most OCRs can't handle that.

  3. Utah SEO says:

    I just tried searching on and couldn't find it but last year I read about a Google patent with analyzing vector points in an image to be able to read what that image is of. It was use a lot of computation to use this same technology for text but it's very possible.

    Just imagine, duplicate content filters for similar imagery, not just textual content.

  4. Jab says:

    Anyway,…as they try to fight paid-links this is maybe one thing Google really plans to try/ do.

  5. LOL! Now if only they could get better at cloaking detection :)

  6. 5ubliminal says:

    The last 10 seconds can easily be labeled as g4y but I won't do it.

    I'd pick MS Outlook over GMail anytime and I do! Host your own email or enjoy the 'benefits' and 'privacy' of hosted services.

    PS: Nice spam check. I vow? God! :)

  7. […] Google Sees What You Hide in Images […]

  8. Aaron says:

    Wow…I didn't even realize that they could do something like that. Looks like they are really serious about getting rid of paid links. But why?

  9. […] Google Sees What You Hide in Images […]