Google Image Mismatch Penalty: Something new? What is It?


It seems that Google is getting better and better at sniffing out the tiniest black-grey hat technique that webmasters used to boost their results. Many searches, especially the ones searching images, may click on the results in Google and visit the site with the original image. So, many webmasters know that getting an image ranked on the top page of image search can be pretty beneficial.

Google Image Mismatch Penalty

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But, there are times when you click on an image result and follow it, only to land on the original website that doesn’t actually display the image. Webmasters that are actually using one image on the website and serving another to users through cloaking techniques are in for a shock as Google has begun to penalize this behavior.

How to know that your website is suffering from this Google Image Mismatch Penalty? You will receive a notification in the Manual Actions page regarding the Google image mismatch. You will see this message: “Images from this site are displayed differently on Google search results than they are displayed on this site.” If you are get this message, it means that Google thinks that you are violating its Webmaster Guidelines, and you website or a portion of your website will be penalized.

I see this notification. What should I do?

You will get this message either because you or your digital marketing team have been deliberately using cloaking techniques. But, even if you have not been deliberately doing this, the use of hotlink protection techniques to prevent people from stealing your images can also cause this penalty to activate. Here is what Google recommends you can do to address the image mismatch issue:

  • Make sure that your site displays exactly the same images to users whether viewed directly on your site or within Google image search results. This behavior may be caused by “anti-hotlinking” tools. This may require looking through your site’s code on the server.
  • Once you’re sure your site’s images are exactly the same when viewed directly on your site and in Google’s search results, request reconsideration of your site.

This is bad news for popular websites that use anti-hotlinking tools. Although such webmasters had no intention of deceiving Google or misleading the people looking at the images on Google image search, their websites will be penalized. This is because Google wants to provide accurate results to its users and doesn’t want an image mismatch between the results on the page and the website.


  1. Thanks For Sharing That Beautiful Article With Us .
    I Agree With You WE Have to Make sure that site displays exactly the same images to users whether viewed directly on site or within Google image search results.

  2. Good one Rajveer Singh. This is a very useful tip, especially for bloggers like me who believe in using images to enhance reader experience. Nice blog Kingsley.


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