Image Names

Images need to have a good name for many reasons. But if you are focused on proper SEO, you should take the time for proper image names. Not only should your images have a meaningful name, it should have a name relevant to the content of the page where it is used. Examples:

  •  DC-1320.jpg BAD
  •  coffee-cup.jpg
  •  coffee-cup-black-12oz.jpg

Use A Hyphen Not A Space or Underscore

Using spaces in file names is never a good idea for images used on the web. Without going into heavy details, spaces complicate everything from the web server to the users browser, and while they will work on the web, it is not something you want to do. Underscores are not Hyphens. While an underscore makes the file name more readable as it mimics a space in the file name, Google and other search engines will treat it differently. Google treats the hyphen “-” as a logical space in the name but ‘ignores’ the underscore “_” and makes the file name appear as one word.

  •  So, if you use ‘coffee_cup.jpg’, Google will understand coffeecup.jpg.
  •  While using ‘coffee-cup.jpg’ , Gooogle interprets ‘coffee cup.jpg’.


Image Location

Some people like to keep all images in one folder, with good image names this is not a real problem. But aside from SEO, using good ‘image taxonomy’ can make working with your images much easier.

Keep It Organized When Possible

Use a store layout as your folder taxonomyCategorizing your images into sub-folders of a main image folder can make life easier so long as you do it with thought. As an artist, you may want to put your work into folders of Genre or by Creation Date. As a store front, you may want your folders to be more like a store layout, for example: when you go to The Home Depot, each isle is numbered and labeled with a sub-listing of the products or categories found on the shelves of that isle.   So keep this in mind, if you are taking the time to categorize your online invetory through a store CMS like WordPress/Woo Commerce you should consider making your image library similar.

Don’t Create A Mess

One thing to consider, if you have an existing site, I don’t recommend just moving all your image files around to new locations. For existing site imagery, you will want to leave the original file in its current location. Make a copy of the file and put it in the new folder. This will allow pages to keep working until you can make the image reference changes in the page or pages currently using the image. Start Now Start Small Start naming and categorization with your newly added images. Make it a point to stick to your new file naming and folder structure with all images you add from now on. Make a game plan to how you will change exisiting files in use by your webpages.

Image SEO and Folders

When it comes to images and SEO, file and folder names will play a role. While search engines have evolved how they treat page content and where it comes from, you can’t go wrong using your keywords in your file name structure. Dont get me wrong, don’t expect to get first page rank by changing a folder name. Think about how a search engine like google might consider your page relevance when it encounters the following image url:


The image name and folder structure in the second example tell search engines that you have a black 12oz coffee cup that is merchandise. So even if Google is not showing the folder names to the users in search results, it is using ALL page content to match the best search results for the user and the image url is part of that content.

Page Content First And Then Image SEO

So no matter how you look at it, the file name is the most important to SEO and images, the folder structure is not nearly as important to SEO. Good page content and creating an image file name that is relevant to the page content is the ultimate combination for image SEO. But dont just pick any old image for your content, try and use imagery that is actually related to the subject or enhances the users experience of your content.

Image Markup

While you can read more about proper HTML image markup here W3Schools, chances are you are using a CMS like WordPress. Depending on how you add images to your website, you may not have direct control of the syntax of the images, for example:

<img src="coffee-cup.jpg" />

A CMS will usually offer control over attributes of the tag when it is generated on the page. Options should appear when you are selecting images while you are building the page. Use these to enhance information about your images.

Use The alt Attribute.

The alt attribute is used for several things. Most of the time it will never be visual to the user however, search engines use it for SEO etc.   The alt attribute can be added in your CMS either when you are picking it from your Media Library or adding it to your image tag if you are editing the html source, for example:

<img src="coffee-cup.jpg" alt="Coffee Cup 12oz Black" />

There are literally thousands of articles on HTML and images. Please do a little research to understand what an image tag can do.

Image Meta

Image meta can include many things. This article will only touch the basic idea.   Since things like social media have evolved, so have meta tags. These meta tags can be in the page/post header and may direct a service like Facebook to display your image a certain way and may also give more information about the image for that specific services platform.   These meta tags look something like this:

<meta property="og:{tagName}" content="{tagValue}"/>

Again, the web is full of information of how to best apply these to your images and website.

XML Image SiteMaps

Sitemaps have become much more widely used with Google and other search engines. A good XML sitemap is like roadmap to all important pages of a website in a search engine friendly way. This map guides search engines like Google to all main content on a website. Having an XML sitemap can be beneficial for SEO, as Google can retrieve essential pages of a website very fast, even if the internal linking of a site isn’t flawless. Here, we’ll explain what XML sitemaps are and how they help you with your rankings. While you can create an images xml sitemap, its usually not really needed UNLESS you deal with images and media as your business or service like an artist. In that case you would want to expand and use an image site map along side your normal sitemap. Having a normal sitemap.xml is a great way to get search engines to find important content and this will increase the likely hood of your images being properly indexed with the pages in your sitemap.

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