As per Google, a site’s load time can have an impact on its search ranking. A content delivery network or CDN plays an important role in maximizing speed under the given constraints. SEO process offers a set of challenges for CDN domains. These SEO issues can be tackled by configuring your site and CDN properly to prevent the scenario of losing more than you can gain. Here are some of the SEO best practices for using a CDN that should allow them to get the benefit of a CDN without the risk of losing all of the traffic from Google Image Search and elsewhere.
Using ‘Rel Canonical’ on Pages hosted by CDN
CDN setup in tools like Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)
Make use of Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools to set up and verify your CDN sub-domain. This takes care of many things Vis-à-vis- if the user is concerned about the CDN’s IP address being out of the country targeted, they can put the geographic target in GWT. It also lets you to use the URL removal tool if required, among other things. Thus, these tools help you to get a further grip on the geographical target and even if the location of your CDN provider’s IP address is a different one than your own place, it wouldn’t’ make any difference. This is critical if you do not want search engines to target a geographically different location automatically (which would mean your CDN provider’s IP address) than your location. It is a commonly known fact that search engines give preference to websites that are locally hosted. Also, in GWT, setting up your domain and verifying it is not tough at all. You can block or remove specific URLs depending on your needs and preferences as well, either pre-CDN or post-CDN. Overall, this adds value to your endeavor.
Make use of Your Own Sub-domain
It is highly advised to set up a sub-domain for your content rather than letting CDN host it. When your own sub-domain is created and used, the service is kept proprietary to you, pointing the resources based on CDN to your own domain i.e. yourownsite.com instead of yourownsite.cdn.com. This has multiple benefits- your authority over the site increases a lot, is more secure, makes it seem professional, makes it more appealing to look at and most importantly, increases the page speed. etc. ultimately all of this impacts your SEO rankings. You can check with your service provider if they would let you have this option by installing the service on your personal sub-domain. You can set up a lot of CDN service that way. Some services, like CloudFlare, perform more like reverse proxy for your whole domain so nothing actually changes URL-wise anyway.
Maintain File paths and names
It is critical and highly recommended to preserve and maintain a list of all the file names even after having transferred some content to CDN. If tomorrow, you have a change of mind and want to switch back to the original host server, you wouldn’t have to revise the files again. In short, keep the same files naming conventions you had before the CDN. For example, if an image was at www.mysite.com/images/imageabc.jpg and you go to a CDN that renames it assets.mydomain.com/images/000fgh.jpg or changes the folder structure (e.g. assets.mydomain.com/assets/imageabc.jpg) you may run into some issues if the old URLs have not been redirected. This is a very common problem and can lead to a lot of time wastage. So it is always better to have a list of the original names. If the before-CDN path to the file was at www.mysite.com/images/imageabc.jpg the new address at the CDN should be something like: cdn.mysite.com/images/imageabc.jpg. This would pay in the long run by avoiding useless 404 type problems.
Make use of the popular CDNs even if the cost is more
One of the most important considerations is to go for quality and not quantity. It is any day better to use reputable service providers like MaxCDN, Akamai and Amazon Cloudfront. They have been in business for a long time now and have proven to be amongst the best there is today. They are reliable and provide quality work. And a little extra cost on the wallet right now is much better than tons of regret tomorrow right?
When implementing CDN services, it comes with a challenge that the website images may get de-indexed by Google because of the CNAME based CDN URLs. However, with these steps enumerated above, we can get Google to index our site images once again.