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Background:

I am developing a web service that will provide tooltips to fan sites for collectible gaming cards. The potential traffic and bandwidth is substantial.

As this is a free service, I want to distribute my bandwidth across a few servers, including Bayimg, community members who have volunteered to host the files, and Amazon S3 as a fallback. Since images are a big part of the service, I want to SEO them as best I can. The problem is that I might have the same image duplicated across several servers.

Question:

Is there any way to setup a URL to act as a router to these different images? The routing URL should be indexed by search engines. Any insight would be appreciated!

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stackoverflow.com/questions/1588854/… and I wouldn't worry about images being accessible on various domains since its common for fallbacks additionally Google doesn't simply drop a page or image for that matter on the first time it's unaccesible, additionally any changes in paths also take many crawls. –  bybe Dec 17 '13 at 23:14
    
But to be honest. Most companies use a CDN which have their own fallbacks. –  bybe Dec 17 '13 at 23:16
    
Wouldn't google crawl and index the fallback links too though? I want all of my link juice to be concentrated on the main link. My primary concern is SEO. –  skibulk Dec 18 '13 at 0:50
    
Questions here should be in a single question & answer format. If you have ideas/solutions, add them as answers so the community can vote on them, rather than a growing list of edits. To be frank though, it sounds like you're trying to re-event the wheel, when a reliable free one already exists. –  dan Dec 18 '13 at 19:56
    
@dan I'm still considering my options and will probably award you the correct answer. I just find it hard to believe that CloudFlare wouldn't act against a free account that is consuming 1 TB of bandwidth monthly (not that I'll have that much). The bottom line is that service is a for-profit service. Why would they allow a freeloader to cost them month after month? At some point I imagine they would just make me serve the images. You see the same kind of empty promises with "unlimited" hosting plans today. –  skibulk Dec 19 '13 at 14:01
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4 Answers 4

Is there any way to setup a URL to act as a router to these different images? The routing URL should be indexed by search engines.

The most efficient and affordable way to accomplish this is to use a content delivery network (CDN), which would cache your images on servers around the world, and serve them from the server located closest to the requesting client, without any additional bandwidth costs.

As indicated from one such CDN, CloudFlare:

CloudFlare operates out of 23 data centers around the world. Our CDN automatically caches your static files at our edge nodes so these files are stored closer to your visitors while delivering your dynamic content directly from your web server. CloudFlare then uses a technology called Anycast to route your visitors to the nearest data center. The result is that your website, on average, loads twice as fast for your visitors regardless of where they are located.

On average, a website on CloudFlare loads twice as fast for its visitors, sees 65% fewer requests and saves 60% of bandwidth. You’ll be able to see the exact speed benefits and savings with your personalized CloudFlare analytics report for your site.

We never charge for bandwidth

Using a CDN, your image URLs would remain the same, without the need to route them to backup servers.

The other ideas presented would likely not play well with search engines; they might view them as an attempt at cloaking or other black hat technique, potentially resulting in penalties.

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URL Parameters Idea:

Could I indefinately use (302, 303, or 307) redirects to route requests to one of the servers, while keeping page rank at the original URL? The key here is that the server will change, and the resource will never actually reside at the "router" URL. I would use Google's Webmaster Tools to mark the URL parameters don't change content. Is this a no-no? This is a hack and not preferred as it doesn't SEO other search engines.

Example:

Server 1 (CNAMEd to img1.mydomain.com)

www.permalink.mydomain.com/12345.jpg?server=img1 > www.img1.mydomain.com/12345.jpg

Server 2 (CNAMEd to img2.mydomain.com)

www.permalink.mydomain.com/12345.jpg?server=img2 > www.img2.mydomain.com/12345.jpg
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.htaccess Redirect Idea

Similar to my URL Params Idea, but better I think. Here I would hard-code the image redirects into an .htaccess file. I had not considered this before because of the sheer number of images I have to work with, but I could group them into folders and use separate .htaccess files in each folder, to distribute the rules. I can programatically update the .htaccess rules whenever I want to toggle image servers.

Example:

www.permalink.mydomain.com/12345.jpg >> 302 redirect >> www.img1.mydomain.com/12345.jpg
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PHP Redirect Idea:

To bypass .htaccess all together I could serve php scripts with a .php.jpg extension. The server would parse the php but the url looks sort-of like a jpg. With this solution I can just hard-code the desired server into the script.

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