Is Jetpack’s Photon bad for SEO

Last updated on Aug 20, 2017

In this article, I’ll answer the question if Photon, the free image content delivery network (CDN) of the popular WordPress plugin Jetpack is bad for SEO.

If you are reading this article, the chances are that you already know what Jetpack and Photon are. If so, you can skip the next two sections.

What is Jetpack?

Jetpack is a straightforward and robust plugin that enables all of the power and flexibility you need from your WordPress. You can learn more about Jetpack here.

What is Photon?

Photon is an image acceleration and editing service for sites hosted on WordPress.com or Jetpack-connected WordPress sites. That means less load on your host and faster images for your readers.

Photon accelerates image delivery through two key features:

  • Caches images on its CDN resulting in more rapid delivery to your web Page’s visitors
  • Automatically scales down images to the most appropriate size for visitors

If you are interested, this support article describes how Photon does it.

How could Photon be bad for SEO?

Accelerated image delivery and optimized photos sound like features that would improve SEO, but many bloggers think otherwise. I have read on various blogs on the subject that Photon is bad for SEO because it delivers all images from a foreign domain (*.wp.com) instead of from your domain (michaelkummer.com in my case). It’s true that if you look at the page source of my blog, you can see that most images are delivered from a source ending in wp.com. Some people assume that this is why Google doesn’t index your images and associate them with your domain and consequently SEO gets negatively impacted.

However, what many people don’t know is that Jetpack’s Photon, much like other good (image) CDN’s include a link to the canonical image with each response. You can verify that easily by fetching one of the Photon-hosted images via curl from the command line:

Michaels-iMac:~ mk$ curl -I https://i2.wp.com/michaelkummer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FullSizeRender.jpg
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2016 11:08:36 GMT
Content-Type: image/jpeg
Content-Length: 541418
Connection: keep-alive
Last-Modified: Fri, 25 Nov 2016 11:08:26 GMT
Expires: Sun, 25 Nov 2018 23:08:26 GMT
Cache-Control: public, max-age=63115200
Link: http://michaelkummer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FullSizeRender.jpg; rel=”canonical”
X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff
ETag: “cb89429eff537f33”
Vary: Accept
X-nc: HIT ord 24

Jetpack confirmed that when I reached out to them via email.

Michael:

I read that Photon may have an adverse impact on SEO because it serves images
from a ‘foreign’ domain (wp.com) instead of from the root domain. In turn,
images may not be associated by Google with the root domain. Can you please
elaborate if that is indeed correct and if there are options to mitigate that?

Jetpack:

Great question! Photon actually includes a link to the canonical image in its response and for that reason, Google will always know where the original image lives and will index that one. And also, Photon will improve your SEO because it improves the overall loading time of your site.

There is also a support thread about this very topic with some more information.

Jetpack’s Photon is good for SEO

The bottom line is that Jetpack’s Photon is good for SEO as it improves load speed of your page through its CDN and image scaling capabilities. Additionally, each image served from Photon’s CDN includes a canonical link to the original image, so Google can properly index it. If you want to learn more about how to improve the performance of your web page, read my previous article on the subject.

Michael Kummer

Atlanta | Austrian | Blogger | Father of a preemie | Paleo fan | Traveler | Amateur photographer | CrossFit
22 Responses to "Is Jetpack’s Photon bad for SEO"
  1. Hi Michael

    I agree that photon can serve like a free CDN. But, have you check the Google pagespeed test before and after activating the photon features? I got bad results on my blog. I got 90/91 before and decreased to 64/78. Any idea?

  2. The canonical link means nothing. Use photon and watch all your images get de-indexed. Don’t believe their lies. Photon KILLS SEO for images!

    • Using Page Insight Doesn’t make any sense Because as per seo How fast you can load your website page insight doesn’t measure your page speed Better use pingdom or gtmetrix or webpagetest.org for Measuring Site speed

      • Hi Vaibhav,

        Your are correct in saying that Page Insight doesn’t say anything about the actual load time of a given page, but I don’t think I claimed that anywhere. Besides, the article is about SEO and for that Page Insight certainly plays a role.

        • I Know Your article is about “Jetpack’s Photon Image CDN service which is good or bad for seo” But in the comment section many People showing their grade Thinking Getting Higher grade In page insight give their site higher rank
          but thats not true google work on Speed Metrics which is as simple as Loading Your page as fast as You can and Get better rank not getting Better Grade in insight
          their are also Other factor just Speed is one of them I dont want to get envovle in seo talk bcoz Thats Huge

          By The way great Article

  3. Hi Michael

    Thank you for your advises.

    I am still evaluating whether using photon or cloudflare. The cloudflare free service is provided by the hosting provider (ha*khost) and have been activated.

    I was looking for comparison, but I am still not sure for what I have out there about these two service (cloudflare vs photon). I will be grateful if you have any suggestion regarding this.

    Thank you in advance.
    Nodali

    • Hi Nodali,

      I’m using both. The main reason for using Photon is its capability to dynamically resize images. Cloudflare cannot do that but it provides a host of other useful features.

      Cheers
      Michael

    • Hi Michal!

      Thanks for the link! I have read a few of those articles but couldn’t confirm any of their results. All my images are still properly indexed and I have been using Photon for months.

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