Cloaked images

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that some of your site’s images may be displaying differently on Google’s search results pages than they are when viewed on your site. Cloaking is the practice of presenting different content to human users than to search engines. Cloaking is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it provides our users with different results than they expected. Cloaking images can provide a bad user experience for Google image search results, as obscured images and mismatched thumbnails do not present the user with the image that they are searching for.

As a result, Google has applied a manual action to the affected portions of your site, which will affect how your site’s images are displayed in Google. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site are listed under Partial matches.

Examples of cloaked images

Here are some examples of image cloaking behavior:

  • Serving images to Google that are obscured by another image, for example: a block of text.
  • Serving images to Google that are different than the image served to a page visitor.
  • Redirecting users away from the image on the site when the user clicks "view image" in Google search results.

Recommended actions

  1. Ensure that your site displays exactly the same images to users on your site and in Google search results. Some cloaking behavior can be caused by “anti-hotlinking” tools; look through your site’s server code and examine any plugins you have installed on your site to see if this is the case.
  2. When you’re sure that your site’s images are exactly the same whether viewed directly on your site or from Google search results, request reconsideration of your site.
  3. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account; we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine that your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
Was this article helpful?