Intro to Image File Naming

Intro to Image File Naming

When we talk about SEO, we want to leverage the crap out of everything. Sometimes it’s more time consuming like writing titles and meta descriptions but other times it takes mere seconds. This is one of those things that takes next to no time that should be standard operating procedure. You have to name your files something, so might as well take an extra half second and name them to leverage SEO.

Things to remember when naming files

  • Keep your file names short
  • Include meaningful keywords to reinforce what your page is about
  • All lower case with hyphens (not spaces or underscores)


If you download an image from UnSplash, it has this gross looking file name:

Not only that, but it’s going to be a massive file. It has to be brought into Photoshop or Canva anyway to resize it properly (targeting around 150k). So you might as well export it with a proper file name turning…

michelle-tresemer-MjKUUaYQQ6U-unsplash.jpg into meaningful-keyword-curious-dog.jpg

If you are a search engine trying to figure out what the image is of, you will think the first image is of Michelle Tresemer and the second image is of a curious dog. Which is more accurate? Which do you want Google thinking the page is about? This is why we take the extra few seconds to describe the image in relation to the page it’s used on so we reinforce to search engines what the page is about. If you have a page all about health coaching but you used UnSplash images from me, that could confuse search engines. In that use case you might name this image curious-about-fitness-dog.jpg. It’s not magical, but it’s better than the UnSplash gobbledy gook.


Why you should care about SEO image file names

Here are just two reasons you should care:

1. We want to make it as easy, and as clear, as possible to people and search engines what the web page is about.

2. The more clear your page is, the better chance it has to show up in Google searches for the terms you care about the most.

Next steps for image file names

We generally don’t recommend you go back and rename all of your files. It’s a lot of work. We do however recommend to name files appropriately going forward. If you are reviewing a page on your site for titles and meta descriptions then it might be worth while to swap out any large images and rename them properly while you’re in there.

Updated on July 11, 2022