Use WordPress Jetpack Photon with care!
I just wanted to write a quick warning based on an actual situation that arose on my Wife’s website (www.WholeMadeLiving.com…go ahead and check it out, I’ll wait…)
Her content ranks really well in a lot of Google searches. Almost always the images of her mouthwatering food show up in the search results. If I do a “Site Search” of the Google index for her website site:wholemadeliving.com it would return pages and pages of her indexed content along with the little images next to the results.
Her Website Images Disappeared From Search Results
One day, out of the blue I noticed this all changed. Suddenly there were no more images at all for her search results in google. I needed to quickly get to the bottom of this and figure out what happened.
Google Structured Data Testing Tool
I went to the Google Structured Data Testing tool and entered the URL of one of her posts. In the results everything showed as “All Good”. I scrolled down to the “Recipe” section since this is where I knew google was pulling the image for the enhanced presentation in the search results.
I looked at the image and the first thing I noticed was that there was a ?w=205 appended to the end of the image file. I looked a little closer at the image URL and noticed that it wasn’t even showing as hosted from her website anymore!
Suddenly i2.wp.com was showing up in the image URL…and then it struck me.
I had recently activated WordPress Jetpack on her website for other reasons. In doing so, Photon was selected and activated. Jetpack Photon is the WordPress Content Delivery Network (CDN).
The short version of the story ends here, I deactivated Jetpack Photon and the images started to show up back in the google searches slowly.
Content Delivery Network – CDN
A CDN is a service that takes the load off of your web-host by helping to serve certain content for it. These are typically larger files like images or videos. Your page links to a URL on the CDN that then shows the image on your page. These CDN’s are usually highly optimized for this task and serve the content quite rapidly.
The Problem With Jetpack Photon
The problem with the way Jetpack’s Photon serves the images is that it shows it’s own URL at the beginning of the image. Google looks at this, sees it’s not from your site and disregards it. This is a killer for your SEO!
A properly configured CDN would append the URL of the image with a custom domain like a sub-domain.
For example, with a properly set up CDN:
Google sees this as coming from my own domain and not a third party even though it is pulling the image in from some other server.
With Jetpack Photon Activated the same image would show up as:
which shows that it is hosted at Photon’s server at wp.com and not on SimpletonSays.com
A Properly Configured CDN Can Be Great
I am not trying to say that Jetpack’s Photon is bad for everyone. If your site doesn’t rely on images very much then it might be ok for you. If your site relies heavily on images and they drive people to your search results then I would suggest that you don’t use it.
You could use other CDN’s that allow proper configuration that could help you out. These typically cost money but for this type of service, if it’s free there might be a serious drawback!