Tested: QR and EXIF URL Discovery


I’ll keep this short and to the point. We tested two things:

  1. Will Google discover a URL contained in a QR code?
  2. Will Google discover a URL contained in an EXIF?

The answer to both at this stage of our test is: No.


After seeing an interesting discussion on this thread we created a test page and waited until it was indexed and cached, including Google’s image search. The URL contained within the QR code was pointing to another page we created but never visited in a browser to eliminate any extra variables. We have a simple script tracking Googlebot activity and right now, there is no evidence of any activity on that URL. If this changes we’ll update this page with new results.

Our EXIF test is now a month old and we’ve seen no Googlebot activity on the test URL either, we don’t intend to continue with the same test and setup so it’s safe to disclose the details. The ‘feeder’ page contained an image of St. Matt Cutts with a special URL contained within it’s EXIF, if you’re curious you can download the image and view the properties to see what the URL was. We saw no evidence of bot activity on our test page even after shares and +1’s on Google+ leading to the feeder getting indexed and cached.

As usual we welcome feedback and follow-up experiments.


  1. Anton Sheker,  EXIF file test idea
  2. Mariachiara Marsella, and Trey Collier (Backyard City), QR experiment
  3. We’ve also spotted another independent test by Matt Storms which st this point shows the same results.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6886-3211

0 Points

7 thoughts on “Tested: QR and EXIF URL Discovery”

  1. I test QR few months ago too with this link: http://www.mobiliodevelopment.com/googlebot-mobile-interprets-qr-code-images/ So far i didn’t see Googlebot Mobile that scan QR code and get in.

  2. Dejan SEO says:

    Thanks for sharing Peter. Good to know.

  3. bhartzer says:

    Dan, the St. Matt Cutts image has a URL in the “tags” field. I would expect to have a actual keyword tag in that field, not a URL. If you wanted to put in a URL in that EXIF data, wouldn’t you logically put it in the URL field? Plus, your “keyword” on that image is not even a valid URL, I’m seeing it as a URL with http:/ (one slash) and not two. If it’s an invalid URL, how could Google crawl it?

  4. bhartzer says:

    One more thing–that ‘secret’ URL goes through two 301 redirects before having coming to a valid html page. It’s quite possible that there’s bot activity on that secret URL, but the bot hasn’t gone any further. Frankly, I personally wouldn’t have involved a 301 redirect in this test. Why the multiple 301 redirects?

  5. Dejan SEO says:

    Valid point about the tags field, not sure how that / got lost. We still have it in the description field as a “http://”

  6. Dejan SEO says:

    I don’t see any redirects when visiting the URL.

  7. Spook SEO says:

    Hi Dan,
    Very interesting search experiment, analyzing on how Google’s crawling and indexing behaviour. I have seen that St. Matt Cutt’s picture and it made me smile 🙂