Embedded Meta-Data in Images?

Is there embedded meta-data in images (e.g. .jpeg, .png, .gif, etc)??

I’m on a Mac, and if I preview pictures on my website in Preview.app all I am seeing is the file name and things like creation date, etc.

The basis for my question is because I am getting A LOT of “impressions” from Google when I view my Google Webmaster Tools, and I don’t know things like this are showing up over keywords in my website.

For example, pretend my website is about “Small Business” and is chock full of small business keywords, and yet under:

Dashboard > Search queries

I see things like…

  • girl in hat
  • fast food worker
  • social security administration
  • box of cheerios

[b]So I am wondering if people are finding me based on something the pictures in my website are storing??

Or maybe I just don’t understand what these results even mean?![/b] :-/ :-/


Yes, it’s in the EXIF data.

One trap many with GPS enabled digital cameras can fall into is not switching it off for " security sensitive" photos and thus not record the lat. and long. of where the photo was taken in the EXIF data. If you take a photo of your home with GPS enabled in the camera and then publish the photo on the www, you may as well publish your home address as well because it can easily be got at by viewing the photo’s properties.

I’m no expert, but I don’t see how information like “girl in hat” or “fast food worker” could in any way become associated with a photo unless you specifically made that association. After all, I’ve yet to meet a camera that knows what it’s taking a photo of. :slight_smile: I always strip out the EXIF information when I save a picture for the web anyway, as it saves a few kb.

I presume the phrases you’re seeing are relevant to the pictures? If these odd search strings have only started happening recently and they’re not relevant to any legitimate content on your site, then you might want to check it hasn’t been hacked.

I suspect those phrases are “tags” someone has attached to the image files.

Well, I get most of my photos from WikiMedia Commons…

And, no, “girl in hat” doesn’t much relate to a Small-Business website?! (That’s why I’m so confused?!)


How do you VIEW EXIF (or other) meta-data associated with photos?

How do you STRIP OFF EXIF data?


Photoshop or Photoshop Elements will do both.

On my system (Linux) right-click the image and choose “properties”. (I don’t know if this also shows tags, as I don’t tag my images.)

I use GIMP, but I imagine other applications are very similar. When saving a jpeg, there is an arrow in the dialogue box for “Advanced Options”. One of those is “Save EXIF data”, and you can simply uncheck the box for this.

I was just wondering why you would think that these search terms were somehow related to your pictures, if they don’t actually reflect the content of those pictures? :confused: If you can’t find anything on your site that could possibly have a connection with those search phrases, then you need to check that you’re not hosting other files unawares. (I only realised one of my sites had been hacked when I started seeing references to cars in the stats.) Hopefully, that’s not the case here, but there’s no harm in making sure.

It is highly unlikely that search engines use this information. Stock agencies will use this data to catalog images. You can also use them on your own computer. For example if I were to tag all the images from a vacation, I could easily find them by searching the meta-data.

HTML alt tags are used by search engines though.


Okay, so I was being really stupid here… :blush: :blush:

Here is some sample code from one of my articles…

	<img src="../images/GirlInHat_150x133.jpg" width="150"
		 alt="Picture: Young Girl Wearing Hat.  Credit: johndoe, Wikimedia Commons."
		 title="Picture: Young Girl Wearing Hat.  Credit: johndoe, Wikimedia Commons." />

I created the alt and title tags to give proper credit to the person on WikiMdeia Commons who so graciously is sharing his/her photos with the world to use for free. And I wanted both screen readers and hover-overs to be able to see where I got the picture.

What I did NOT want was to have to put that information - in plain site - below each photo on my website as I feel it advertises too much that I don’t have my own Photo Dept and it also distracts from my website?!


1.) If I don’t properly site other people’s pictures from WikiMedia COmmons then I’ll get in trouble right?

2.) Will having these HTML tags in my markup screw up my SEO Ratings?

Maybe I don’t understand what it is that I am looking at in Google’s Webmaster Tools?

When I look under “Your site on the web” and then “Search queries” and the headers…

Query Impressions Clicks

I only see a few “search queries” that match what is on my website, and the important keywords like “Small Business”, “Entrepreneurs”, “Women-Owned Small-Businesses”, etc are nowhere on the list?! :-/

My understanding is that that table is saying "Here are things that people search for randomly on Google and these are ones that might relate to your website.

If that is what the Google table means, then why would I see things like “Small Business”, “Entrepreneurs”, “Starting Your own Online Business”, “Women Entrepreneurs” and so on in the results when I have those keywords and phrases listed throughout my website???

Yes, I have WikiMedia Commons images - with the HTML tags - that Google is clearly picking up, but what about the main content on my website?!

(If I Google certain terms on my website, I do often come up on the “Page 1 Results” and for some really specific phrases might come up in the “Top 5 Results”, but when I look in Google’s Webmaster Tools, the way I read things it makes it sound like my website sucks…) :frowning: :frowning: :frowning:

What is going on?!


I don’t know - you’d need to check their terms of use. But even if you don’t have to, I’m sure the photographer would appreciate that courtesy.

No, I see no reason why they should.

Join the club. :slight_smile:

As I understand it, the “search terms” table is a list of words/phrases which Google recognises as “search terms” and which appear somewhere on your site. I think it’s ordered with the most popular terms at the top, even though they may not be the most relevant searches for your site. For example, one of my sites has, in second place on this list, the term “mesolithic era”. The phrase does appear on the site, once, in a sentence about the local museum. I’m guessing it comes higher up in the list than more relevant terms because globally, more people are searching for “mesolithic era” than for “guesthouse in xxxxxx”. I think this is Google trying to be helpful - “Here’s a list of popular keywords/phrases on your site - you might want to optimise for these.” Obviously, in this case, I don’t. I’m sure there are plenty of authoritative sites about the mesolithic era and I have no wish to compete with them. :slight_smile: As long as you’re showing clicks for the relevant search terms on your site, and not for the irrelevant, you’re fine.

I would also check whether the list of keywords Google shows for your site is the same as the keywords for which you want your site to be found. If it is, then you’re on the right track.

I have awstats on my sites, which shows search strings used by visitors to the site. Again, if these are for relevant keywords/phrases, that’s all that matters.

After all, who cares what other internet users are searching for, provided that the ones who might want your services find their way to your site? :cool:


Considering that my site averages between zero to 5 visitors a day (including sometimes Search Engines), I do care about this Google table that says all of these non-related searches happen to somehow tie back to my website.

How about searches that people type that do relate to my website’s true meaning/intent?

How about more than 1-2 visitors per day… :rolleyes:


I think you might get better replies asking this in the SEO forum - I’m no expert on the subject.