Google Warns: Embedding Instagram Images Can Cause SEO Issues

Aug 12, 2019 • 8:36 am | comments (19) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Google's John Mueller was asked about why a site saw a major dropping in image search traffic after embedding Instagram images on his site. John decided to test it and noticed that Instagram on the embeds use a no index robots meta tag, that tells Google that they don't want those images indexed together with the page itself.

Meaning, if you use Instagram and use Instagram's embed code, Google most likely will not rank the image on your site in image search. John said in that video hangout "But what really kind of breaks the story for us is that within the content that is embedded from from Instagram on with within the iframe. They use a no index robots meta tag. And this meta tag tells us that you don't want those images indexed together with the page itself. So if we just look at that iframe content we can recognize that there's an image, there we can crawl that image but with that meta tag you're basically telling us that you don't want this image index together with that landing page."

This question came up at the 29:38 mark into the video:

Here is the transcript:

I changed normal images to Instagram embeds on one of my articles and saw a decrease in rankings clicks etc for image search. It was a 43 percent decrease in image search clicks overnight on a very reliable article. Can you talk a bit about the difference between normal images versus Instagram embeds from Google's perspective?

So I thought that it was an interesting question and I created a test page to see how this actually works. Because it it really depends a lot on how Instagram sets is up because you're essentially just taking code from Instagram and putting it on your website. And depending on how they set up that code on there and it can have an effect on your website.

So in general what kind of the the bigger picture change is you're going from a situation where the images are embedded in the HTML directly on your website, where they're really easy for us to discover and really easy for us to crawl and index. To a situation where we have to process some JavaScript and do some fancy processing to get to those images.

So that that means it's it's a lot more work for us to actually get to those images. We can recognize those images and we can crawl those images. Using the mobile-friendly test shows those embeds as well. So it kind of looks okay.

However what what I notice is specifically with the way that Instagram embeds these images they use an iframe to embed kind of the post from Instagram. Which which kind of makes sense but with an iframe you're basically adding another layer of indirection between your page and the images. So it goes from your page to this iframe and then from the iframe content to your images. So that makes it a little bit harder for us to pick up those images.

But what really kind of breaks the story for us is that within the content that is embedded from from Instagram on with within the iframe. They use a no index robots meta tag. And this meta tag tells us that you don't want those images indexed together with the page itself. So if we just look at that iframe content we can recognize that there's an image, there we can crawl that image but with that meta tag you're basically telling us that you don't want this image index together with that landing page.

So essentially by switching from a direct embed of an image on your website to using Instagram embeds, you're kind of telling us that you don't want these images indexed for your website. And with that I think it would be normal to see a significant drop in image search traffic to those pages because you're essentially telling us you don't want these pages to be indexed like that. So from from my point of view it essentially kind of comes back to you to you and kind of your preferences there. I can understand that sometimes it makes sense to embed Instagram posts directly or social media posts in general. Because you get a lot of added value from just kind of be the whole everything around that with regards to comments and maybe the likes and the shares and all of that information that is available within the embed. On the other hand it makes it a lot harder for us actually index those images so that's something that you almost need to balance on your side do you need to have all of this extra detail around the images or do you really need to make sure that those images are well indexed for your website. And depending on the website you might have preferences one way or the other if you want to have both kind of the Instagram embed and to have your page ranking for those images then that will probably be tricky and might involve weird situations like having to put it in there twice.

Glenn Gabe summed it up nicely on Twitter:

So I guess if you want to use the embed, and you also want the image indexed with the page, maybe include the image itself as well in your HTML?

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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