Jetpack

Jetpack’s Photon And Image SEO, Is It Bad?

There’s a lot of discussion about Jetpack’s Photon and Image SEO. Some people thinks Jetpack’s photon is bad for SEO while some thinks It doesn’t have any SEO impact at all. In this post I’ll answer this SEO question and my views about it with some pros and cons of Jetpack’s Photon module.

If you are new to WordPress, You may be wondering about what is Jetpack and Jetpack’s Photon module? Okay! Here is introduction of Jetpack and Jetpack’s Photon module:

What Is Jetpack?

Jetpack is a popular WordPress plugin developed by Automattic (the same guys behind WordPress). It’s a robust WordPress plugin with more than 3+ million installs. Jetpack includes some useful features like Automatic social sharing, Carousel, Slideshow, Extra sidebar widget, social share buttons, custom CSS, Site stats, analytics and a few more.

It also include some of the features from WordPress.com. There’s a premium package available along free plan. The free plan of Jetpack includes all the core features. For a full list of Jetpack feature and plan comparison, visit Jetpack’s feature listing page.

What Is Photon?

Photon is just an another features/module of Jetpack. It accelerate and enhance images for sites on WordPress.com and Jetpack connected WordPress installation. It serves images dynamically from WordPress’s high performance cloud server. Since images served from WordPress’s global cloud server, It reduces load on your web server and loads faster.

Anyone can enable Photon service on their Jetpack enabled WordPress sites. In order to enable Photon, You need to enable “Speed up images and photos” from media section under Jetpack >> Settings.

Enabling Jetpack's Photon service

Once Photon enabled, All the images in your WordPress will upload to WordPress’s global cloud server. At the time of writing this post, Photon only fetch, resize and serve gif, png, and jpg images.

Photon Pros (Summarized):

  • It reduces your server load by serving images directly from WordPress’s global cloud server.
  • It only filter contents from posts and pages without changing any info in database. So you can disable Photon service without worrying of any loss.
  • Photon automatically serve scaled images of the containing width element whichever is smaller.
  • It also acts on Thumbnail and featured images.

Photon Cons:

  • Currently Images on WordPress’s global cloud server cached for forever.
  • There is a limitation of gif, png, and jpg images.
  • Not like other premium CDN, images served from foreign domain (*.wp.com) instead yours.
  • It doesn’t serve up-scaled images than original.
  • If your server takes longer than 10 seconds to upload images to photon server, The upload will be timed out and your image will appear broken.

So, Is Jetpack’s Photon Bad For SEO?

I’ve used both (Images with photon enabled and without photon enabled). And my short answer of this question is:

No: there’s no significance difference in SEO, It only increase the time of image indexation process by search engines.

And here is my detailed answer:

Since Photon serve images from a foreign domain ending with wp.com instead your domain, Some people thinks it is bad for SEO and that’s why images is not indexed by search engines. But the truth is, There’s a lot of website using photon and you can easily find their images on google and other search engines.

Even my this blog is photon enabled and most of the images on my blog is indexed by google. If you inspect an image header response that is hosted on photon’s server, You can see that, There’s a canonical URL that is pointed to the original image URL on your website. For an example, below is the screenshot of header response of image from photon server:

Image Header response

You can clearly see that, there’s a header response with canonical tag of original image URL and that’s what counted by search engines.

Like other premium CDN’s, Jetpack’s photon service helps in SEO by improving page load time. And you know that, Site speed is a one of the major SEO ranking factor.

So, Should you enable Jetpack’s photon?

It depends.

Because, I also noticed that, Images served by Photon takes longer than usual to index by search engines. So, My recommendation is, If you have a image heavy website that receive a lots of traffic from image search and you want to get your images indexed by search engines quickly, Then you shouldn’t use Jetpack’s photon service.

Alternatively, You can use premium CDN service like MaxCDN and Amazon CloudFront.

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In the bottom line, I’d like to say, Jetpack’s Photon isn’t bad for SEO, Even It helps in SEO by decreasing page load time.

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3 Comments
  • Raja
    August 12, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Hi, you told your website is using photon, but i was seeing that your images is delivered from your host. So can you please clarify it?

    Regards,
    Raja.

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