How To Properly Name and Optimize Website Images for SEO

how to name image files

If you want to increase traffic to your website you must include high-quality visuals with your content. Properly chosen images can help explain information and make your content visually appealing.

Because people tend to skim rather than read when browsing online, visuals can help absorb information quicker, while at the same time improving the overall user experience.

However, just as it’s important to use high-quality images, it’s also necessary to optimize them for SEO. Optimizing and naming images properly will not only improve the SEO score of your pages but also increase organic traffic by making them easy to find in Google Image searches.

To ensure users can easily find your content, you must follow specific guidelines when you’re publishing your images online. 

Below is a list of useful tips for naming and optimizing your images for SEO

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How To Name The Image for SEO

The first thing you need to do is to properly name your files to help improve your on-page SEO

Google must be able to understand what your images are about. Accurately named images should describe the image and also include focus keywords.

There are many examples of images on the web with file names such as IMG-34593.jpg or Shutterstock-business-guy-5789874.jpg

This is often the result of people uploading the files without bothering to rename them after they transferred them from their phones or digital cameras.

These files should be renamed appropriately to include seed keywords related to the content they appear in.

Because URLs get abbreviated in search results, keep the file names short, ideally 5 words or fewer. 

To keep filename short, it’s ok to remove “stop words” (a, the, in, of, etc.) since they don’t add any SEO value.

So the filename “How-to-Name-Images-for-SEO can be renamed to “name-images-seo”. Stay away from keywords that don’t describe the content or the image for the sake of improving rankings. Ultimately you want to do both, describe the image and use appropriate keywords when naming the images.

Finally, use hyphens (-) instead of underscores when naming your files, which is the preferred naming convention.

For this post, the main image was changed to “properly-name-optimize-images-seo.jpg”. As you can see, it follows proper image naming conventions. It’s short, only 5 words, contains main keywords, uses hyphens and accurately describes the image.

Below is an example of what not to do when you upload images.

How To Properly Name and Optimize Website Images for SEO 1
How not to use images

Include ALT Tags

Make sure that to include ALT TEXT with your images. Alt tags further help search engines understand images by providing additional information.

You can make your Alt longer than the filename, but it should still be concise. Try to keep your alt tags under 125 characters.

Another good reason to use ALT tags is that the American Disabilities Act requires it to assist the visually impaired.

use alt tags for image seo
Image ALT field in WP image panel

Reduce Image File Size

One of the main reasons websites are slow is because of the large image size. 

Google uses speed as one of the determining factors when deciding how to rank pages. Fast websites are favored over slower-loading sites and are more likely to show up higher in search engine results. 

compress images for seo
How to use Compressor online tool to reduce image size.

You want to keep your images as small as possible. Your goal is to compress them, so they are 100kb or less. Even if you can’t get them this small, you can still drastically reduce image size when you run them through free image optimization tools before uploading them to the website.

Some of the best and easiest image compression tools include TinyPNG,, and Squoosh.

How to rename and optimize images for SEO using Pixlr, a free online photo editing tool.

Use the Right File Type

Using the right type of image is another way of keeping your files small and making sure your pages load fast.

The three most common file types are JPEG, PNG, and GIF. You need to know which type you to use to reduce load time.

JPG is the most common file format, exclusively used for photo images. Image compression can greatly reduce JPG file size without reducing their quality.

PNG files are mostly used for transparent images, illustrations, icons and logos.

GIF images consist of 256 colors and like PNG they can be transparent and are used for flat images like illustrations and icons. GIFs have been mostly replaced by PNG files which are superior in quality. However, one reason you still see GIFs online is because of web animations. Unlike other file types, GIF images can have multiple layers and therefore, unlike other file formats, can be animated.

If you plan on using transparent PNG files, you must compress them before uploading them. Image compression can significantly reduce file size without visibly affecting the image quality. 

Resize Your Images Appropriately.

Compressing images is one way to keep image files small. Reducing image size is another strategy for making sure your files stay small. Many inexperienced designers force huge images into tiny spaces resulting in much slower pages.

Before resizing images, decide where you plan to use them on your website.

Does the image need to be full width? if it does your dimensions should not exceed the width of your website. If you plan to use the image in a sidebar or a column that’s half the width of your website, you need to resize it accordingly.

By using the right filetype, resizing images to optimum proportions, and compressing the images you will be able to reduce the file size of your graphics leading to faster pages and better SEO results.

There are a number of ways to resize images. You can use Photoshop or free online apps like Pixlr. If you use WP, there is a built-in feature that lets you resize images after they’ve been uploaded and show up in your media library.

How To Properly Name and Optimize Website Images for SEO 2
How to resize images inside WordPress

More SEO Image Optimization Tips

Use Multiple Visuals and Rich Media

Your posts, at the very least, must have one featured image. But don’t limit yourself. Because the web is a visual medium, it’s always a good idea to include additional graphics and rich media to make your content more engaging.

By adding videos, charts, graphics, and infographics, you will encourage people to stay longer on your page, reducing the bounce rate and resulting in more shares.

Include Caption Where Appropriate

Captions give publishers another opportunity to include keywords in their content. Captions provide information about images and just like ALT tags, they help search engines better understand your images.

Captions are mainly used with charts, graphs, and tables rather than regular images.

Use Authentic Images

Whenever possible use authentic images. People are less likely to share your content if you include images found on many other sites. When you use generic stock art, it makes your content less original and your brand less authentic. Furthermore, users are more likely to share interesting images on visual sharing sites such as Pinterest attracting even more organic traffic.

Quality Is Important

Image quality is another important factor when it comes to images and SEO. Regardless of how well-written your content is, you’re unlikely to get repeat visitors if you use poor-quality graphics.

“According to the Nielsen Group, the majority of users decide if they want to stay on your website within the first 10-20 seconds of viewing.”

Visitors to your website know the difference between low-quality and high-quality images. They’re more likely to stick around if they see well-chosen professional-looking visuals. No one wants to read or share a post that includes photos that look like they were taken in the 80s by a kid who was learning how to use a camera for the first time. Keep it professional.

If you’re on a budget and don’t have original photos, as the last resort consider using images from a growing number of free photo stock sites. These photos might not be authentic, but at least they will be of high quality and will make your content visually more appealing.

INFOGRPAPHIC: Image SEO: 7 Advanced Tips to Get Your Images to Rank Higher on Google


Optimizing your images is an important part of on-page SEO and can greatly improve your on-page SEO rankings.

When optimizing your images for search follow these guidelines:

  1. Keeping the image filenames relevant. 
  2. The filename should clearly describe the image
  3. Include Keywords in your filename
  4. Keep filenames short. (shoot for 5 words or less)
  5. Use hyphens instead of underscores
  6. Drop “stop words” (a, the, to, etc.)
  7. Compress image file size
  8. Use the right file type (Jpg for images, PNG and Gif for flat files and illustrations)
  9. Resize images to optimum proportions.
  10. Keep your ALT tags 125 characters or shorter
  11. Use authentic, high-quality images.
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