Could you be accidentally publishing images, documents and other files to the web?
You could be if you forget that all uploaded files are on the web, not just those you’ve chosen to use in your posts. And those files can be surprisingly easy to find.
Here’s an example to explain.
Yesterday, a commercial publisher asked for permission to reuse an excellent photo, taken about 3 years ago, which they’d found on an Edubuzz blog. There’s nothing unusual about that: there are now over 8000 images on the site. What was unusual, though, was that the school involved didn’t think they’d used the photo on the blog.
So what was happening? Read on to find out.
When people add images to websites, there are two steps involved:
1. Uploading the image to the blog (in our case, using the “Add Media” buttons above the editor window).
- This copies the image to a directory on the server, in a similar way to copying it onto the school server.
- The image then has its own URL (web address) on the server, in this case it’s: https://www.edubuzz.org/yesterp7/files/2006/12/dscf0591.JPG
2. Make the uploaded image appear in a post, page or sidebar (typically with “Insert in post” button)
- Behind the scenes, this adds the special code to your post needed to display that image where you want it.
You can have an uploaded image appear in lots of posts, or none at all. Sometimes people will upload images, or other files, but decide not to use them in their post. They might decide they prefer another image, for example. Or they’re maybe just using their Edubuzz blog as a convenient way to put a file on the web, and get a URL for it that they can use elsewhere. (This is how we often upload images for use in blog sidebars or headers, for example.)
Once an image, or other file, has been uploaded to the website, it will be picked up by search engines: it doesn’t need to have been used in a post or page. That means an image will appear in a Google image search.
Search engines will offer it to people looking for school-related images. Google, for example, offer an “Advanced search” to help people find images that are related to certain words, e.g. school, learning, classroom etc.
How do they do that, if it’s not in a post? Because they’ve already indexed your site, they know exactly what the blog is all about, so they know the image, or other file, is very likely to be related to the same topics.