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I believe that images on the same domain can contribute to search engine rankings (mainly Google), example:

  • http://example.com/image.jpg helps http://example.com

So it is my understanding that using a images on a different domain or a (CDN) content delivery network is not good for SEO. A popular solution is to use a sub domain, such as:

  • http://cdn.example.com/image.jpg

Question(s):

  • Does hosting images on a sub domain impact SEO?
  • Does hosting images on a different domain impact SEO?
  • Does hosting images on a CDN impact SEO?
  • Do you have any fact that an image from a different domain affects SEO? On all client projects I do we use a CDN with seemingly no SEO affect. The alt tag and image name itself I assumed were always more important. – endyourif Sep 22 '12 at 23:17
  • @endyourif - Not exactly. A great example is a info-graphic PDF. A number of other websites might link directly to it. If it is on a domain that is not the same as the main website domain, it wouldn't help ranking. – Andy Fleming Sep 23 '12 at 21:36
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    (If it is located at cdn.example.com/info.pdf, that won't necessarily count towards just example.com.) – Andy Fleming Sep 23 '12 at 21:44
  • @PatrikAlienus - Your answer is correct, but I was hoping for the last part of my question to be addressed: "Is there another option (a way to use a CDN without sacrificing ranking)?". If I create something like infographic.pdf that generates a lot of links to it (assuming it gains some viral lift), I want it to contribute rank to example.com even if it is on cdn.example.com. – Andy Fleming Nov 8 '12 at 18:56
  • Ah, I see. In my answer I said it shouldn't sacrifice ranking, however it won't make you gain any either. CDN's are for your users' benefit, not SEO. CDN's can and should be used by other websites as well. This is why a file on a CDN can't attribute ranking to your site. If the point isn't that other websites should use your files, there's no point in putting them on a CDN. Hopefully that clears it up =) – Athoxx Nov 9 '12 at 19:24
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Google has said that it sees "whatever.example.com" as a different site than "www.example.com" for instance. So, it would make sense that for SEO purposes, hosting the pictures on a sub domain would be a bad idea. However, Google at the same time actively promote the use of CDN's for performance purposes.

Google does not consist of just computers, but rather a lot of people who check the algorithms all the time, which is why I'm pretty sure that using a CDN should have no adverse effect on your SEO rankings.

But as always when it comes to SEO questions, it's a guessing game and the rules can change with Google's will (or ill-will)...

So to sum up:

  • http://cdn.example.com/image.jpg should rank as effectively as http://example.com/image.jpg
  • I doubt it will boost the main http://example.com, however I don't think it'll hurt either.
  • It shouldn't rank differently.
  • Using a CDN shouldn't sacrifice ranking. Perhaps there might be a dip for a while until Google realizes you're using a CDN, but it should bounce back.
  • Yeah. It aligns with all of my assumptions. However, the problem is that I want things from cdn.example.com to boost example.com. Otherwise, it isn't necessarily worth using a CDN (from an SEO standpoint). – Andy Fleming Sep 24 '12 at 19:51
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    Yeah, it's not going to change things either way. Don't do the CDN for SEO, do it for your users. – John Mueller Sep 25 '12 at 18:47
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    The only that using a CDN could help with SEO, is if Google see's the CDN and decides that since that content is not within your website, that your website in loads quicker than it really does. Since page speed is a factor in SEO, that might help. But, it's a tiny help, if any. – Athoxx Oct 1 '12 at 7:48

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