Should You Host Images On Your Domain or Flickr For Best Traffic Potential?

Feb 23, 2011 • 8:49 am | comments (17) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Images LogoA WebmasterWorld thread has a new conversation around an old SEO topic, where should you host your images for the best potential traffic to your site?

There are two basic options:

(1) Host them on your own domain


(2) Host them on a popular image sharing site like Flickr

For years, years, I have been hosting the images from this site on Flickr. Why? Well, initially it ranked incredibly well for images and sent lots and lots of traffic. Plus it even, at one point, didn't have nofollows on links, so you had nice link juice from a relevant powerful domain. I would say most of these reasons are no longer valid. An image on your domain can rank just as well as Flickr and you can get the immediate traffic to your site, as opposed to Flickr's site.

But what about using Flickr to save money on bandwidth and for the convenient tools? Well, that is your call - but it might be worth looking into CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to reduce your bandwidth costs and then maybe find some other tools to do your image touch ups.

Yesterday, I finally made the switch on this site to host images on this domain. I explained how I did it exactly on RustyBrick on a post named Using Amazon S3 Without SEO Issues. In short, I upload images to Amazon S3, I mapped the bucket I have on S3 to using a CNAME and built a quick image cropping and resizing tool for this site. It seems to be working very well.

Here is a screen shot of an image from this site showing in Google News, leading to more clicks and more traffic.

images in Google News

I know I should have done this a long time, but breaking bad habits is never easy.

Do you disagree?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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02/23/2011 02:06 pm

I think it depends what you are using the images for as to what you decide to utilise in terms of hosting. Sure, if its just images you use in news or blog posts, then I'd agree with the practice you put up now. But dont be so quick to dismiss the power of hosting quality images on flickr and then posting them to the right, relevant groups as you can gain a lot of traffic back to the site, especially if you actually run a group for a specific niche.

Barry Schwartz

02/23/2011 02:59 pm

I hear that. Not the SEO niche. :) But yea, those groups in Flickr are powerful.


02/23/2011 03:19 pm

Using CDN often costs much more than the bandwidth you're allocated when you bought/rent your own server. Cost for 1TB transfer on S3 is $140, other CDN networks could charge more. For that amount of money you can rent a decent Core2Duo server with 2TB transfer.

Barry Schwartz

02/23/2011 03:22 pm

True, but overages on your monthly bandwidth allotments often are more expensive then the CDN prices.

Anne H

02/23/2011 03:23 pm

Interesting as I never considered Flickr as a solution, maybe because I have other media files on Amazon. I went the S3 route because they seemed to have the servers that were closest to my readers. About 30% of my traffic is international.


02/23/2011 04:41 pm

I do agree. However does your site really get to 2TB/month ? Mine has appr. 80k visits/day and never goes over 1TB. Even if a traffic spike happens, I still have a lot of spare room. Otherwise some providers allow you to buy one time additional allotment if your quota runs out, at around $0.10/GB, slightly lower than Amazon's $0.15/GB. Anyway to each his own :-)

Barry Schwartz

02/23/2011 04:42 pm

sometimes, yea

Jordan McClements

02/23/2011 07:23 pm

I agree. These days bandwidth is cheap. I wouldn't bother with the extra hassle of S3, but if you are already in a contract with an expensive host, it is an option I guess.. PS - I would love to have the problem of serving images to 80,000 visitors a day (my traffic is more like that in one month)....

SEO reseller

02/24/2011 03:31 am

I have also hosted my images to my Flickr account for years now. I will try your suggestion and see how it will work for my website. Thanks!


02/28/2011 04:51 am

Hosting on Flickr brings traffic .


03/08/2011 01:47 am

I have a website that gets 87% of it's traffic from google image search, I planned it like that from the beginning. A few days ago my webhost contacted me to tell me that my site is using too much bandwidth and thus causing server issues (it uses around 70GB bandwidth per month) and suggested that I move it to a dedicated server because I am breaking their terms. I have done a but of research on a CDN prior to this, and decided that the easiest way to fix the issue is to move my images to the CDN, and that's what i did. I installed w3 total cache for Wordpress and also got an account with rackspace Cloud Files and copied all my images over to the CDN, I then set up a CNAME record on my domain and it all worked fine. The next day it hit me! I reaalized what I had done will really hurt my site's traffic, so I quickly changed it back to the way it was to lower the impact of this (luckily, it's as easy as clicking a checkbox in W3 Total Cache). This was obviously not the answer, as it was only a matter of time till I get another email from my host, and the server has already gone down twice that week, So I needed to move quikly. I decided to take the plunge and get Rackspace Cloud Sites, together with a colleague, we went halves on the costs (it's $149 per month) and I moved the entire site over to the new host. Within a couple of days I could see a spike in my traffic, and I realized that my site's load time went from 2.1 seconds to 0.3 seconds - a HUGE difference in speed. Everything loads faster and I am really happy with the set up. So, to sum it all up, I would reccommend a CDN for static files, as it increases Load times immensly, but if you're relying on Google image search for traffic, it will seriously hurt you, even with 301 or htaccess redirects, it will still have a negative effect on your SEO and traffic. There are more reasons why I chose Rackspace over a Dedicated server, but that's a topic for another discussion. Hope this helps Tom

Adriana@ Cheap Tents

03/25/2011 06:55 am

mmhh. Never occurred to me to use it like that... I guess is worth trying. Thank you very much for sharing, it gave me new ideas.

Justin McClelland

12/13/2011 05:54 am

I hadn't really thought about hosting images on flickr to bring traffic until now.  Good stuff. I will implement immediately.

Inbound Marking

05/25/2013 03:32 pm

Hosting your images from your domain is one good thing to do in business specially when doing a lot of business promotions. This way, you will be able to catch peoples attention to get look on your website if they will able to see your good image content.


01/15/2014 05:10 am

Does hosting images from flickr can possibly decrease the website speed from 5 seconds to 4 or 3.5 seconds.


05/14/2014 11:48 pm

Would embedding your own photos from Smugmug/Flickr negatively impact your SEO? (as opposed to hosting everything on your own domain)

live video chat

06/28/2014 07:29 am

i am use it is very simple and fast

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