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Should Website Images & Files Appear in Search Engines?
Should Website Images & Files Appear in Search Engines?

Learn how and why we ask search engines (like Google) not to include your images and other uploaded files in search results.

Pete Zimek, CAE avatar
Written by Pete Zimek, CAE
Updated over a week ago

The only way that members or website visitors will be able to see your images or view your uploaded documents is if you provide them with a link to those files. The link could take the form of embedding an image on your website. It could also be a "read more" button in an email to your members.

In order to help our Novi customers control the flow of information - and keep potentially sensitive information - from leaking out into search results, we take measures to ask Google, Bing, and other search engines not to crawl or index your uploaded images or files.

Making Content Discoverable

If your intention is to broadcast certain files or images to the world, we recommend that you add them to any page on your website that is not locked down. You'll want to surround your links to those files with content that describes the destination. Make sure it's written using language that closely mirrors what users may type into their search engine. The website page itself will appear in search results, and Internet users will be able to access the content, including images and downloads.

Locking Files Down

You have two different options when locking files down.

Novi Files

First, Novi Files are generally hidden from public view given our request to Google that they not be crawled or indexed. In most cases, this lack of exposure will be all that you need in order to ensure that the right content is delivered to the right audience. Given how fast it is to upload a Novi File and embed it into your content, this is generally the best & easiest approach.

Secure Files

If you have more sensitive information - perhaps content that you sell or legislative affairs documents intended for a narrow audience - you might want to consider using our Secure Files feature. There are a few extra logistical steps on the admin side, but the added level of security may very well justify them.

Under the Hood

To keep Novi Files out of search results, we use the "robots.txt" file to "Disallow" crawling of file uploads. We also tag that content with "noindex" to request that search engines not include the files in their results. To be clear, these are only requests. These are best practices outlined by Google, Bing, and others; however, each search engine will ultimately decide whether it will follow our requests.

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