Naming images for SEO is an important opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on. Image SEO is great for helping Google understand more about your website. The more Google knows about your website, the better chance you have of being displayed in search results.
In this article, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about naming images for SEO.
Don’t worry, this intimidating topic is actually quite easy to learn. After following some of my tips, you’ll be on your way to ranking on the first page of Google Images.
We will answer the following questions:
- What’s the problem with default image filenames?
- Why is naming images for SEO important?
- How do I name my images for SEO the correct way?
- Should I use keywords in my image filename?
- What is the format for image filenames?
- What should I avoid doing when naming images for SEO?
Default Filenames are Bad
Default filenames are you enemy. It’s time to get rid of them.
When you save a video or image on your computer, your camera is going to give it a default filename.
A default filename for an image might look something like: IMG_4564.jpg
The problem with default filenames is that they tell Google nothing about your content. After all it’s just a bunch of numbers and letters that offers no real information or meaning.
The way to fix this is is to re-name your filename something that means something.
Rename your Images to Mean Something
Great! But what does that really mean? Tell Google what’s in your image. Be very descriptive to get your point across.
Answer the question: What are we looking at?
Remember that Google is a blind robot that can’t see your image. Google reads your image filenames to make sense of the content and this small factor can help you out in a big way.
If you image is of a blue leather purse with tassels than it wouldn’t be a bad idea to name your filename “blue-leather-purse-with-tassels.”
How to Name Images for SEO the Correct Way
In this section, I'm going to explain the right way to name your images so that you can start showing up on Google search results.
1.) Use Keywords in your Image Filename
It’s a good idea to use keywords in your image filename because this signals to Google that you want to rank for this term.
Ranking for a term is a great way to get shown on Google Images which can drive organic (unpaid) traffic to your store.
Another tip is to use keywords in your filename. Keywords are words, phrases and search terms that you want to rank for.
I recommend doing keyword research to find search phrases that have a low competition (easier to rank for) and a high search volume (meaning people are Googling this term a lot).
For example, if someone searches for “blue leather purse with tassels, hopefully you’re the website that Google displays to millions of people.
If you have an eCommerce store and sell products, you might have more than one image for a product. Use your keyword only 1x.
So if you have 10 images for a single product, you’ll use your keyword 1x and then for those other 9 images, you’ll want to use different (but similar) language. Think of it as a way to rank for other related keywords.
2.) Use Hyphens in your Filename
Naming images for SEO is super simple!
Just include hyphens between each word to separate them. This makes it easier for Google to read.
So if you want to name your image file “exotic coastal Resort in Ubud Bali” then your filename would look something like:
🙅🏻♀️ This is much better than "exoticresortinubudbali.jpg" as this will make it harder for Google to understand what words are in this filename.
Honestly, it doesn't really matter whether you use all lowercase or capitalized letters.
3.) Don't "Keyword Stuff" When Naming Images for SEO
There is indeed a bad way to name your image filenames. When naming images for SEO, you’ll want to make sure you avoid “keyword stuffing.”
Keyword stuffing is when you use your keyword way too many times. You might think this is a great way to tell Google “hey! I want to rank for this term.” Instead this is telling google “hey! This image might be spam, Bury me in search results.”
Example of keyword stuffing:
🙅🏻♀️ Purple-leather-purse-with-tassels-purple leather-purse-for-sale-leather-purse-discount-price.jpg
Notice how I’ve used the keyword “purple leather purse” over and over again? This is bad SEO, so make sure you don’t do this.
Don't repeat yourself over and over again because this looks like spam to Google.
4.) Shorter is Better
Google recommend making your filenames descriptive but short. I recommend aiming for five words in length. If you go over this a little bit that's okay, but just keep this guideline in mind.
By reducing your filename to 5 words in length you are being specific enough that Google knows what you're talking about.
If your filename is over 5 words, you might be keyword stuffing or just writing too much.
5.) Relevant Keywords Only
When you name an image, it should tell Google what this image shows or contains. If you use irrelevant keywords (that are off topic) this is not a good SEO practice.
Google will quickly realize that your image is not connected to the words you used to describe it. This is another reason why Google might bury your image in search results.
Example of Naming Images for SEO
Okay, so now we’ve gone over the good and bad ways to name your images. I thought I’d give you a couple examples of naming images for SEO so you can see how to do it the right way, and what things to avoid.
good filename: white-wool-yarn-with-coffee.jpg
bad filename: IMG_394038.jpg (means nothing)
good filename: small-brown-dog-on-bed.jpg
bad filename: small-dog-smallish-dog-dogs-that-are-small-tiny-minature-puppy.jpg (keyword stuffing)
good filename: green-blue-translucent-nike-sneakers.jpg
bad filename: sneaker_pic1.jpg (should be more descriptive)
I Have Thousands of Photos, What Should I do?
Remember, if you have hundreds or even thousands of photos on your website, you don’t need to do them all at once.
Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every day.
Try to break up your work load into digestible chunks, something you can commit to on a daily basis. I recommend optimizing some of your photos every day and you’ll make a lot of progress quickly.
My best advice is to start with your most important web pages first and concentrate on these in the beginning. If you run an eCommerce store, you could focus on your most expensive products first.
Google is looking for clear, concise filenames that are easy to understand.
If you follow these guidelines above, you can increase your ranking with Google by improving your image SEO.
Doing your image SEO is the perfect way to get your feet wet and start making positive steps towards making your website better.
If you need help with your image SEO, you can always use Adolab’s Get Clicked app (available currently for Shopify shops).
Thanks so much for reading our guide to naming your images for SEO. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch here.