How to Name Images for SEO?

Table of Contents


Image and pictures in a content often make the largest part of a web page and the most impactful one too.  Correctly naming the images make a big difference in how your content is searched, understood, indexed, ranked and delivered both to the visitors and search engines.

While working with SEO, many web content writers focus solely on generating textual content, its structure, meta tags, sub-headings and their descriptions. One crucial point that is often overlooked is adding relevant images and naming them.

Correctly named images enhance compliance, performance, and user experience of a site. Naming images correctly is vital for image optimization. It significantly improves your visibility in image search results, attract more traffic and improve overall SEO strategy.

To know more about what SEO is how it works, see here Is SEO worth it for Small businesses?

What is image optimization?

Image optimization is the process of creating and presenting high-quality, relevant images in the ideal size, resolution and format to enhance user engagement. It also includes appropriately labeling and linking them with metadata so that search engine crawlers can find and read them during their search process.

Why Correctly Naming Images is Important?

Google and other search engines have advanced algorithm techniques to understand and find images. The process also includes analyzing the file name, the context and contents of an image.

A file name that is descriptive and related to the keyword of the topic help search engines better understand what the image is about thus increasing its probability of appearing in relevant search results.

Benefits of Proper Image Naming:

  • Improves image search visibility
  • Drives more traffic through search
  • Makes content more readable and engaging
  • Increase on-time page by making it interesting
  • Improve SEO by adding more context and relevance to search engines
  • Provide better user experience
  • Proper naming allows batter organization and management of images
  • Enhance and assists image sharing
  • Improves accessibility to users

How to Name Images for SEO?

In its Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Google states that:

Like many other parts of the page targeted for optimization, filenames are best when they’re short but descriptive.”

Implying that the name must briefly point out what the images is about but it should not be lengthy and overstuffed with keywords. To know more about keywords and how they should be placed in the content consider reading this blog post: How Many SEO Keywords per Page?

Let’s discuss image naming and how it is done in the right way to get maximum benefit out of them.

  1. Use Descriptive Image Names:

When it comes down to SEO, it is vital to use descriptive and precise file names that accurately describe the content of the image. For example, typically an image is named like “IMG_974874.jpg” by default. These types of file names do not help search engines while processing search queries.

So it’s better to change it from default to like “vanilla-cake.jpg” so that the name describes the image. It will increase the search engine’s ability to understand and find the image ultimately improving SEO.



  1. Choose Relevant File Names:

The name of the image must be according to the content and purpose of the image. Maintain relevancy. Avoid using generic terms such as “image1.jpg”.  If an image is about cars it must be named according to its genre.

For example, the below image potentially needs to be named “black-racing-car.jpg” based on its context so that it becomes easier for the users and search engines to understand its purpose and relevancy to the content. Don’t name it as “pic.jpg


If the image is labeled irrelevantly or opposite to its content, it will lose its search visibility   and lower down SEO.

  1. Avoid Stuffing Keywords:

Incorporate relevant keywords that you are targeting with your content into your image file name but don’t overstuff them. This is one of the major mistakes that people make when it comes to Image Naming. Remember, image naming is not the opportunity to ingrain long tail keywords in them to improve your ranking.

Instead, they should be short, precise and relevant focusing only on the main keyword. For example the following image is better to be named as “delicious-vanilla-cake.jpg” instead of “best-vanilla -ice-cream-cake-slice-bitten-available-in-town.jpg” so that Google does not consider it as spam.


  1. Insert Hyphens to Separate Words:

Insert hyphens among words in image names. They helps search engines read the file name more easily and understand image names better. Hyphens (-) are better than underscores (_) while naming as they separate the words and facilitate understanding for the search engines.

For instance, if your keep image name “deliciousvanillcake.jpg” search engines may not be able to distinguish the words and comprehend the image name.  “delicious-vanilla-cake.jpg” is a better choice.


  1. Keep Image Names Concise:

File names should be short and crisp, ideally under five or six words or even less to keep them to the point. If you are using six, seven or more words you are probably over stuffing keywords. Bring them back to normal and optimize them for search engine visibility.

  1. Use Lowercase letters While Naming:

Some browsers or servers can be case sensitive and might consider uppercase letters as new file names or do not recognize them at all. Lowercase letters are more compatible and consistent in this case and are typically widely used across the internet.

So the image might not get displayed if there is a difference between the cases of letters in the file names. So stick to lower case and consistent naming convention. For instance, “company-logo.jpg” is not the same as “Company-Logo.JPG”

  1. Avoid Using Special Characters:

Special characters like brackets, apostrophes, exclamation marks, commas, symbols (!, @, #, %, * etc) must be avoided while keeping file names because they can cause confusion or errors for the search engines.

They also reduce visibility making search engines unable to find and index them thus lowering overall SEO. For instance, use straberry-pink-bag.jpg, not “strawberry!-pink%-bag/.jpg” or “strawberry,pink,bag.jpg”.

  1. Use Descriptive Alt and Title Tags:

Descriptive Alt and title tags help images to be better indexed by search engines. This is a way to alternatively name images to expand their reach through web browsers and search engines. Alternative make it easier for web crawlers to better understand the content of images.

Remember that Alt text should be relevant to the image. As an example, alt text for the below rose bouquet image could be written as:

<img src=”rose-flower-bouquet.jpg.” alt=”Rose flower bouquet”/>

It should essentially be written in a way so as to describe contents of the image so that search engines and people find it easy to search them and make sense out of them. The importance search engines give to a certain image relies directly on the amount of relevant information an image has.

  1. Use Consistent Naming Convention and Standard File Extensions:

Stick to consistent naming convention for image files across your website. It improves the ability of search engines to crawl and index your images thus improving visibility. The type of extensions and formats you use for naming images indicate their type and quality. They influence image display and rendering.

The most commonly used and supported formats and extensions for web images are .gif, png, .jpg each having their own specific features. Use appropriate file extension and format and avoid using older and obsolete ones, such as .psd, .bmp, or .tif.

  1. Use Compression Tools to Improve Image Dimension:

File resolution and size impact the visual quality and loading speed of the image, and thus SEO and user experience. Images with high resolution and huge dimensions can lower the site’s load speed to great extent. If the site or image dose not displays too fast, visitors are likely to bounce back within seconds making you lose golden business opportunities.

Therefore, it is important to compress the image files and refine their dimensions to fasten the loading speed. Compression tools reduce image file size without tempering the image quality. TinyPNG, GIMP, Optimizilla, Ezgif, and ShortPixel are good image compression tools to use. You can use many others too. They optimize images for web use by compressing them.

Good Examples of Image Naming:

  • vanilla-cake.jpg
  • black-racing-car.jpg
  • new-york-city-skyline-at-sunrise.jpg
  • delicious-vanilla-cake.jpg
  • friends-on-beach-vacation.jpg

      Bad Examples of Image Naming:

  • strawberry!-pink%-bag/.jpg
  • Company-LOGO.JPG
  • jpg
  • jpg
  • jpg

Wrapping Up:

Naming website images is an important aspect but often over looked. When done rightly, it effectively improves the website for search engine optimization. By following the above mentioned practices, you can enable search engines to better approach and understand the context and content of your images.

By avoiding common mistakes you can make sure that your images are indexed rightly and visible to search engines. This will ultimately drive more traffic; enhance user experience and website performance thus lifting overall SEO.


Tell us about your Project