The nitty gritty of how to name images for SEO!

One great way you might not have thought of to optimise your website’s SEO so you can get found in Google searches by your ideal customers, is naming your images for SEO. If this sounds like you, and you're wondering WHY or WHAT you should be naming your images, you're not alone!

While we want to identify all SEO-naming opportunities, this blog post focuses on IMAGE NAMING in particular. 

As Google says:

To boost your content’s visibility in Google Images, focus on the user by providing a great user experience: make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Make sure that your visual content is relevant to the topic of the page. Google Image SEO Best Practices Source

Images with file names that describe the picture, will be more likely to be found by someone searching for YOU or YOUR PRODUCT improving your search engine page rankings for relevant keywords.

how to name your images to get found in google searches - SEO best practices for naming images.

We deep dive into keyword research in our DRIVE TRAFFIC and SEO masterclasses, and also in our group coaching, so we won't be doing that in this blog post, BUT we can take a look at best practices for image naming, so you can start making a difference to how you show up in a Google search, from today!

Google rewards relevant keywords that truly represents what's on your web page, resulting in a greater user experience. That includes your text, links (inbound and outbound), images, video, and all the good things. Always remember this when you're optimising your images for SEO!

Why are images important for SEO?

  • Images can engage visitors visually, and so they can improve time on page because (reducing bounce rate!)
  • Images can encourage social sharing, which in turn leads to higher social proof and increased organic traffic.
  • Images can give you extra keyword opportunities (read on for more about this!)
  • Images can boost your organic traffic from Google image searches - how many times have you done a Google search, and then clicked IMAGES? MANY, we know!
SEO best practices for naming images
  • Use keywords you’ve already identified
  • Name for users as well as search engines
  • Keep the file name shorter (around 6 words is plenty)
  • Make sure the file name describes the image.
  • Separate each word with a hyphen
  • Don't keyword stuff - Google considers this SPAM. Google hates keyword stuffing and regularly rolls stuff out to disrupt this from happening, and has stated it can harm your site’s rankings. Yikes!

When you're thinking about how to put your image names and Alt text together, just imagine a screen reader reading the words out without proper context, and consider how that sounds for your visitor. 

How do you name your image for a Google search?

A descriptive filename with a relevant keyword tells Google what the image is about, instead of a generic or auto-generated name such as what comes off your camera or smartphone - like IMG_0273_76.JPG!
The filename is also used as the image URL when it's stored in a web location.

how to name your images to get found in google searches
I have a keyword phrase for this blog; “SEO best practices for naming images” and the title is, "The nitty gritty of how to name images for SEO!"
So, to name the images I first strip it of “stop words” like “of" and "for”
Best-practice URLs typically have words separated by a hyphen (aka DASH!), so we’ll change it to “SEO-optimised-image-names”.

If you’re using a platform such as WordPress or Wix, the media library will have fields where you can change the alt text, title, caption, and filename/URL, unfortunately Shopify (one of my favourite platforms, and what I have built this website on!) DOES NOT!!!! 


An image’s alt text is used either when the image doesn’t load, or is read by screen readers for people with visual impairment. It does not need to be written like a file name with hyphens, instead, write it directly to describe what's happening in the image, and there's no need to strip the “stop words” in the Alt text. 

It directly describes your image under certain conditions, so it needs to be highly descriptive, grammatically correct, otherwise it could be confusing BUT it also shouldn’t be so long or too wordy! A quick way to get your Alt text going, is to use part of your title. The first image/graphic in this article, the Alt text is, "how to name your images to get found in google searches - SEO best practices for naming images." which is literally everything that is written in the graphic. 

Optimising images for SEO goes well beyond just getting a keyword into the image file name. You need to use great images and graphics, and remember not to use your fabulously researched and high-performing keywords on unsuitable or irrelevant images and graphics just to get more keywords onto your page, because always remember, Google hates keyword stuffing!

Last but not least, remember that Google shares; “filenames and alt text are best when they’re short, but descriptive.” Get stuck into researching your best keywords to attract your dream customers and clients to your website, and then name your images so you get found in Google searches - life's too short to have badly named images!

Click here for Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

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