How to Name an Image for SEO Purposes

how to name image fileWhen optimizing your site for SEO purposes there are several considerations to take into account. One that is often overlooked is the importance of optimizing the naming conventions of your site’s images.

Here is a guide how to achieve this.

Folder Structure for Images

If your site relies heavily on images for content, it is a great idea to prep your site with a rich folder structure. For example, if your site is about macro pictures of flowers. You could create folders that are named after each type of flower (e.g. roses) and subfolders within that folder that are named after the subtypes of that flower (e.g. red roses).

Name of Image

An important consideration when naming your image files is that it is better to name them name-of-image.png than name_of_image.png. By naming your image name-of-image.png, it will rank for name, of, image and name of image. If you were to go with the second option, Google will only rank it for name of image.

Additional Tags

Don’t forget to add information to the alternate text and title fields. A good practice is to relate the content of those fields to that of the article in which they are contained within.


Given these recommendations, the ideal way to name an image file would be:

<img src=”/flowers/roses/red-rose.jpg” ALT=”Red Rose” title=”A Beautiful Red Rose”>

Once your site has appropriate image structure set in place, your site may receive a SEO boost from  your optimized images.

Author: Damian Davila

Ideas and concepts from Damian Davila, Ecuatoriano thriving in Hawaii. Pro marketer and blogger. Find him at @idaconcpts on Twitter.

16 thoughts on “How to Name an Image for SEO Purposes”

  1. Why is the dash better with pictures for spaces than the _ underscore. I didn’t understand?

  2. Hi Leslie,
    When naming pictures the dash is better than the underscore because it allows all words used in the name to be ranked by search engines.
    For example, if you name your image fun-vacation-in-hawaii.jpg, it will be ranked for fun, vacation, hawaii and combinations of those words.
    If you were to name it fun_vacation_in_hawaii.jpg, it will only be ranked for “fun vacation in hawaii”.
    The more words that your site can be ranked for, the better.
    – Damian

  3. Great article Damian but wondering if using keywords in pictures is good any more for seo.. or if it is bad business after the latest update?

    (might aswell type in my correct blog url:)

  4. @Morten: Using keywords on the ALT tag of your images is always a good idea, as long as you’re not keyword stuffing. For example, “red carpet” is ok. “red blue green purple yellow magenta carpet carpets” is not.

  5. Damian,

    Very cool article.

    Now, I have a very specific question. I’m trying to name an image of a ring and let’s say I can squeeze many keywords related to that ring into the name. For example flower-engagement-solitaire-round-zirconia-stone-ring. Basically all these keywords are relevant; however, I can guarantee that NO ONE is looking for the whole “flower-engagement-solitaire-round-zirconia-stone-ring” search query and I might be losing an opportunity to rank for a keyword combination even though each word can be found separately. Do you recommend cutting down to a shorter keyword combination, which is more likely be searched for?

  6. Damian, thank you.
    So if I have many silver rings in my inventory and i name each one “silver ring” can I add “-model number” at the end of each image name so that they don’t overwrite each other?
    Here is the example: silver-ring-JG-EP973387
    Will i still be good candidate for a search query “silver ring” or the model number will mess it up?

  7. Hi Michael,
    The model number is a good candidate as long as people are actually searching for it like that.
    From experience with clients, it is on a case by case basis.
    Sometimes it is better to do by model number and sometimes is better by UPC.
    It really depends on what your customers actually use.
    Please remember to check how they are actually spelled on your product packaging because people will use that spelling to look for your products on search engines.

  8. Damian,
    Thanks. In a perfect world I would love to name images just silver-ring.jpg or drop-earrings.jpg because no one will be searching for our UPC code. However, i have more then a thousand products in our inventory and after I name few rings the same way, they will overwrite each other out. Do you have any suggestion out of this situation? I’ve been scratching my head for more then a week.


  9. Damian,

    Basically my last question is that: since I have more then 300 silver rings, i will have to name them as follows: silver-ring.jpg
    The second ring will be silver-ring_02.jpg and third ring in my inventory – silver-ring_03.jpg
    Hopefully google will not take 02 and 03 into an account and I will be found for a search query “silver ring”.
    Please confirm I can do that.

  10. Hi Michael,

    Taking the silver-ring_02.jpg route is good, however I would recommend to go with silver-ring-02.jpg instead.
    The reason behind this is that if you do ring_02, then the image wouldn’t rank for “ring” and only for “ring_02”.

    Best of luck,


  11. Hi Damian,

    if every img name has mert_ prefix will i live any problem for seo ?

    sample1: mert_black-ring.jpg
    sample2: mert_red-ring.jpg
    sample3: mert_blue-ring.jpg

    Best regards.

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