Does Image Name Affect SEO? Best Way to Name Images for SEO

Does Image Name Affect SEO? Best Way to Name Images for SEO

Googlebots can’t read images – at least for now. Why should you care? Because even the most striking product pictures won’t amaze the crawlers unless it’s given an appropriate name. After reading this article, you will know absolutely everything on how to name images for SEO to bring more visitors to your website.

Table of contents:

Let’s start with an SEO knowledge quiz question: Can you name some of the key factors that determine website ranking? What’s your answer? Is it keyword targeting, quality content, and backlinks? If so, congrats!

Perhaps you would list more technical aspects such as website speed, mobile usability, and internal linking. That answer also wins you some points.

But would you mention image file names?

Indeed, these seemingly unimportant details like file names, which you upload together with the actual files to your website, turn out to be your blessing or curse. Believe it or not, they can either mislead and confuse the Google robots, or make your website more trustworthy.

In this article, you will learn how to name images for SEO. These are 8 simple things to bear in mind and recall every time you upload a picture to your website.

Does Image File Name Affect SEO?

Yes, it does. And this influence is rather significant.

Why?

Image file names play an important role in the search engine’s process of site indexing. It tells the algorithm that an image is relevant to the searchers.

You can take it for granted that a picture with a correct alt description and a keyword-rich filename will pull your site up in SERPs.

Why Does the Image File Name Affect SEO?

Despite being smart and able to learn stuff, Google robots remain just software that day by day, for 24 hours, keep collecting data to create searchable indexes.

Those bots are good at recognizing numbers and letters. They understand sentences, even whole paragraphs, and large walls of text. What they don’t understand yet, are the images.

Web crawlers don’t see images the same way humans do. Instead of shapes, they see colorful pixels arranged in some random pattern.

To help you understand this issue better, look at the picture below. If you were a Googlebot, you would see images as a mishmash of pixels.

Not much information to draw conclusions from, right?

how to name images for seo
Source: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/18450617/blurry-to-pixelated-custom-fade-in

For that reason, it’s our job to tell Googlebots what a particular image is. Otherwise, they will see the picture uploaded on your website as a bunch of colorful dots, carrying no meaning whatsoever. It’s just wasted potential, isn’t it?

This waste is even more painful when you realize that a picture can bring visitors to your website when displayed in the Image Search section. Your website may not make it to the top results, but an image with an SEO-friendly name can do this.

As you can guess, there are at least a few ways to optimize images for increased SEO visibility. Today, however, you’re going to learn how to make your website more credible by using the right image names.

Here is how to do this correctly.

Best Way to Name Images for SEO

The process of increasing the credibility of a website happens to be time-consuming. Luckily, the same can’t be said about optimizing images for search engines.

Below you’re going to find 8 quick tips on how to name images for SEO.

1. Make Sure File Names Are Relevant

Naming images for SEO resembles describing the contents of a picture to a blindfolded person. Imagine someone asking you to visualize a picture by throwing at you a phrase like IMG00954.jpg. Not so helpful.

Therefore, if the image you’re uploading shows a coat that has just expanded your regular offer, name it that way.

Here are some examples of how you can name a file like this one:

image file name seoSource: MaxMara

  • young-woman-wearing-beige-woolen-coat.jpg
  • female-in-long-beige-coat.jpg, or just
  • girl-in-calf-length-maxmara-coat.jpg

You got the gist, didn’t you?

There is one more thing you need to know. Even though it won’t meet with your English teacher’s approval, this time you can ignore determiners (ie. “a”, “an”, “the”) as well as some prepositions (eg. “of”, “from”, “at”).

Make the image name short and simple.

2. Use Keywords

Renaming images makes a perfect opportunity for you to utilize more keywords without being accused by Google robots of keyword stuffing.

Using these precious phrases gets your website higher in ranks simply because it’s yet another piece of content related to the topic covered on your page.

Besides, a keyword used in a filename indicates that you want to rank for this term. If you name the file correctly and thus manage to get a picture shown in Google Images, you may count on getting more organic traffic.

3. Don’t Stuff Keywords

Using just one keyphrase in the file name would suffice, especially if it’s a long tail keyword. Going beyond that, you may indicate that the website a picture is published on is a bit fishy, meaning spammy.

Naming images in this way:

black-headphones-wireless-headphones-best-bass-headphones.jpg

doesn’t apply to the best white-hat SEO practices. Just don’t repeat yourself, and your web content won’t become an object of suspicion for Google robots.

4. Be Brief

Yes, we told you to name a file as if you were describing it to a person who can’t see it. Avoid being too descriptive, though. Focus only on the core of the picture. Otherwise, you may confuse Google bots.

How long is too long?

Try not to go beyond 5 or 6 words, and you should be fine.

While making the filename relatively short, you may be tempted to use abbreviations. Be aware that Google bots don’t recognize the shortened forms of words or phrases well unless they are hugely popular and widely used such as USA or BMW. Just keep this in mind.

seo services support

5. Space Words with Hyphens

This one is very important. If you need to use more than one word to name a file, use hyphens instead of spaces.

Why hyphens, not underscore “_”?

Simply because search engines don’t read this character as we do, they see it differently.

So, when you use the underscore in bridal-shower-gift.jpg, Googlebot will see something like bridalxshowerxgift.jpg, which it’s pretty confusing even for humans. Going for other separators than hyphens, you also miss a chance to get the keywords recognized and indexed correctly.

The last thing to mention, even though Googlebots are said to have the ability to divide a string of letters into separate words, they may fail to do this correctly. Just look at the following examples – which one is easier for you to read:

strawhat.jpg vs straw-hat.jpg, or

boysexploringwoods.jpg vs boys-exploring-woods.jpg

That’s why throwing hyphens makes the filename more legible so that neither crawlers nor viewers are left confused.

6. Make Alt Text SEO-Friendly

Just like you do this while coming up with a file name while creating an alt attribute for an image, do your best to be descriptive, yet short – try not to go beyond 125 characters.

Naturally, don’t hesitate to add some focus keywords to increase your chances of being displayed in Image Search whenever somebody looks for your products or service.

Do this reasonably, though. If you use the same keyword for all your alt descriptions, Google may consider your website spammy.

Just infuse the alt description with short but information-rich content that is helpful both for the viewers and crawlers.

7. Don’t Use Complex Strings

You’ve just learned that a complex string of characters used as a filename doesn’t help crawlers understand what a picture is about. Now you need to realize that – just like crawlers – a regular internet user is rather suspicious of long and weird-looking file names and URLs.

They’d rather click on a picture that comes with a legit name than on an image titled somewhat like 91P-2i9gCTkt8JDdCjNw.jpg. Such a filename looks spammy and appears untrustworthy.

A low-resolution image scares your prospects. They don’t trust complex filenames that carry no meaning either.

Also, it’s advised to use lowercase letters in naming files for SEO.

8. Don’t Copy Image Names

What should you do if you have an ecommerce store, and want to publish 10 pictures of the same pair of shoes? Can you use the same names for all the shots?

Better if you don’t do this unless you want to risk duplicate content.

Think of this as an opportunity to use more variations of a keyword you want to rank for. However, if you run out of ideas, just include numbers.

Here’s an example of how you can do this:

best way to name images for seo
Source: Nike
  • zoomx-zegama-mens-trail-running-shoes-1.jpg
  • zoomx-zegama-mens-trail-running-shoes-2.jpg
  • zoomx-zegama-mens-trail-running-shoes-3.jpg
  • zoomx-zegama-mens-trail-running-shoes-4.jpg

SEO-Friendly Image File Name – The Takeaway

Since images have the power of drawing more traffic to your website, it would be unwise not to use this power to your advantage. Keyword-rich image names improve SEO – this helps crawlers understand what topic is covered on your website.

If Google comprehends and indexes the images published on your pages effortlessly, it becomes easier for you to win the top spot in the search results. Therefore, use filenames that are descriptive but short. This way you don’t make crawlers and users confused, reducing the risk of getting your search engine rank lowered.

Now, you know that image name matters as much as its size and resolution do. A website with unoptimized images won’t make a good impression on Google robots.

Therefore, before uploading new pictures, illustrations, or any type of graphics to your website, rename the file appropriately, bearing in mind the above tips. Simply, create your image SEO with those 8 pieces of advice.

Finally, if you need a helping hand with your image SEO, or just would like to use a fresh pair of eyes to check if your graphics – and web design in general – look nice and neat, simply get in touch with us. Our team will be more than happy to give you tips and help you get higher ranks.

This is an update of an article published in 2021. 

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Author
Copywriter - Gosia

Copywriter

A translator and copywriter that has been working in e-commerce for over 7 years. As a trained English teacher, she knows tricks to transform difficult topics into easily understandable articles. In her free time, she reads everything that is related to Scandinavia, looks for murals while riding on her bike, and from time to time shoots wedding/sports reportages.
Comments (1)
  1. Thank you for posting. Refreshing to read this, and well prepared. I try to name my files for SEO without being spammy. If it describes the image, I’ll do it. I hope it pays off because it does take extra time to do.

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