Hosting Your Own Image Files

Is the Weight worth the Freight

I wrote in July 2007 about “Photos an Overlooked Part of Your Real Estate Blog Traffic” In short when you host your own photos and reference them in posts the photos and the URL to those photos get indexed by the search engines. They store those links and people doing image searches will find your site when they click on those images.

The Door

The Door To Quicker Load Times

I’ve been reading a lot lately about what you can do to speed up your blog load time and keep the site from blotting with images. The main suggestion is letting Flickr host those images and put the links to the images in your posts rather than host the images yourself.

We use Yahoo’s servers and bandwidth and not our own when those images are displayed.

However, we also give up the link back to our site when those images are found in the image indexes of the search engines.

Is there value in the traffic coming from those image searches vs the decrease in load time and size of your home page in kilobytes?

Testing A Theory in The Lab on Images and Load Times

For the past week the images I’m using in my Tucson Real Estate blog posts have been hosted on my Flickr account. I don’t have any way of knowing if it is decreasing the load time yet. But i should have some idea of the homepage file size in a few days as I see it and other post pages sizes returned in Google searches.

I’ve been one to like hosting my own images. I’m also in favor of making those pages/posts load as fast as possible.

What do you think? Do you host your own images? Do you link to images from a Flickr account or some other photo sharing source?

I’ve learned a few things about putting Flickr images in posts and getting the captions to appear around them. I also learned about putting images on Flickr but keeping them out of the photo stream and onto blog posts. More on that this weekend.

What I’m really interested in is how you are handling images in your blog posts.


  1. I don’t run a blog anymore, but when I did and I remember posting this before “I got more than 25% of my traffic from images” which is something I can’t easily give up.
    As for optimizing them for seo, the only thing I do is adding the description and the title, sometimes I even change the file name as I have noticed that Google image results also count the file name as well.


  2. I strongly suggest hosting images on your blog and using them for SEO purposes. Make sure the alt tag includes your keyword, and I link the image back to the article it’s in. I get a lot of image traffic to my site, and it boosts regular search traffic, too.

  3. Dave, I would think that hosting an image on a different site such as Flickr would actually slightly increase your load time because it necessitates a call to a second server. Your images still have to load, no matter where they are hosted, so hosting them elsewhere does absolutely nothing to reduce the weight of your page. Weight of page = weight of the HTML page + weight of the images–no matter where they are hosted.

  4. Mike (Petersburg), Studies have actually shown it does reduce your load time because you now have two servers which are splitting the read time between them so the load times are reduced.

    Flickr no doubt has faster and more reliable I/O and bandwidth than a local hosting package on a shared server.

    This is why I asked the question is the weight worth the freight.

  5. I host my own images. I try and avoid large images. If the filesize is too large I throw them in photoshop and reduce them. On the other hand there is some decent traffic for images out there but I wonder how useful it is as far as conversion. I assume there are more people looking for pictures of houses for projects or whatnot than are in the market to buy a house. It would be interesting to look at image traffic and see how those visitors travel through a website.

  6. I am a relatively new blogger. I host my own images in part because I never thought of doing it another way. I have reduced the size of some images to help loading time. I am starting to use the captions for the copyrights on the photos.

    What do others use for photos, sources and how handle copyrights.? I almost never see a copyright attribution for photos.

    Ned Careys last blog post..A Cool New Tool

  7. You know what Dave? I think it depends on the subject matter. If you look at any entertainment blog that has pictures of celebrities, models, etc, they get a ton of traffic because people search for those images. So it would be to your benefit to have your pictures on your own server. The downside would be the bandwidth issues. I have a site dedicated to ipods and I host my own images with that site. A good 60% of my traffic is from image search because people want to see what the latest ipods and iphones look like, especially with accessories. I think if your making money from your blog, you almost have to optimize your images for search and host them yourself. But if you have subject matter that would have a low volume for image search, flickr is not a bad idea but then it wouldn’t hurt to host them either because the traffic won’t be as much. I guess its just a matter of preference.

    Sam With Traffic Is Kings last blog post..This Free Service Is Like Google Analytics On HGH Steriods

  8. I typically host my images on my blog, or my website. While this topic is up for debate, one thing that should be noted is USE PROFESSIONAL QUALITY PHOTOS! I’ve seen some great blogs/websites with horrible photos. Customers like to see professional grade photos.

  9. Dylan,

    I agree and talk about the quality of images here often at the Lab. I’ve been using flickr hosting for my images now for about a month. For me the jury is still out.

    I’m leaning now toward going back to hosting my own.
    I think for Google it does matter if the images are stored indexed by then and it counts for something to have those images indexed.

  10. Dave-
    I know this is an older post, but I love using the lab for finding answers to problems that I run into.

    I find that I get dozens to sometimes hundreds of “visitors” (as defined by Statpress), from image searches everyday. The problem is that many of the images are purchased from iStockPhoto (therefore copyrighted). Also, the most popular photos have nothing to do with real estate (grass.jpg and sheriff.jpg). They are simply used as a way to illustrate a point-which many bloggers do.

    I have even had some stupid people link to my images instead of copying to their own site, thereby over stating my page visits traffic.

    Occasionally I will go in and rename the .jpg to a new name to throw the searchers off for a while, but that is time consuming and annoying.

    Any thoughts?

  11. Minnesota wrote:
    >I have even had some stupid people link to my images instead of copying to their own site, thereby over stating my page visits traffic.

    When that happened to me I didn’t know what to think. I thought I should be mad but I wasn’t.

    I came up with a devious plot. Find an obnoxious photo and rename it with the name the other blog had linked to. That way the nasty photo would show up on their blog. Sadly I wasn’t mad enough to do that, but it was fun thinking about it.

    Ned Carey ´s last blog post..1099s Are Due! Have You Sent Yours Out?

  12. @Ned Carey – I know a few bloggers that have done it. Pretty funny actually. They even put “This image taken from : ”

    @Minnesota Investment Property – Scott, You have too much time on your hands. I don’t even worry about it. Stats are not that important. Spend your time creating more content. It will be like finding gold while swatting mosquitoes.


  13. @Dave Smith
    I know you are right, but I do like to keep an eye on my stats to see how I am doing relatively year over year or month or month.

    Plus I have a bunch of sites and I like to see how they are each doing comparatively divided by how many leads eachs generates.

  14. Great article. It just makes perfect sense to me to take advantage of the Image search, that probably 99% of the other competitors in the market DON’T even think about. Do a search for your keywords in the Google Image search and you’ll find that most of the highest ranked images are NOT optimized at all– the filename is something like “124939429394.jpg”, and the image has no Alt-tag, no link, etc. There is a huge opportunity to take advantage of Image search. I love the idea of just hosting my own images and I highly suggest looking into your website CMS to see what functionality it has. WordPress for example is one of the best I’ve seen for hosting your own pictures. For one, WP creates a specific page post for that image. Then, you can add an image title, description, link, caption, and alt-tag that all appear on that dedicated image page. How’s that for SEO? Also don’t forget to use a keyword rich file-name.

    I think the benefits of SEO FAR FAR FAR outweigh the issue of server load. SEO is crucial to most blog’s success and I would MUCH rather want to get more traffic and just pay my web host more for better hosting plans…

    I wouldn’t stop there either, I would still consider using Picasa Web and Flickr and other social media for the obvious benefits of getting more traffic and more recognition.