Optimizing Photo Filenames For Search Results

How you name your files can actually affect your SEO efforts. A lot of people don’t realize that when you transfer photos from your camera or download them from stock photography sites, that they have a generic name, like a DSC0001.jpg or shutterstock4789028357.jpg.

What you name your photos actually matters in search results. Even more so, Google has an image search capability and depending on how you edit or modify your photos or files people can search for other occurrences of those files. An interesting way to identify competition actually is to go into the Google Search Console, upload a photo, and then it’ll show you all the other occurrences of that exact same photo. One of the things that you can do is to at least come up with a descriptive file name for the photo.

A name that describes what people are actually seeing is a good idea, and even better, if you can include a keyword in that filename. But one of the mistakes that I see over and over again with web content is people trying to use punctuation or symbols in their filenames.

Besides basic alphanumerics, A-Z and 0-9 in a file name, you want to use hyphens (-) instead of spaces and hyphens instead of the underscore character (_) on the keyboard.

It’s really important because a lot of different characters are not usable on the internet. People who are used to working on their desktop computer using programs like Word or Excel or Publisher… they’re not familiar with naming concepts for the web and have some compatibility issues.

Even recent customers trying to create newsletters or email blasts try to upload a photo and it doesn’t work and they get frustrated. Usually it comes down to the the characters that they’ve included in the filename.

Consider this, that the path to the file is also a way to tell the search engines what the content actually is. If you have descriptive names that’s an extra place where that you can optimize your site and you can let people know what that content is.

Also keep an eye on the file sizes themselves. The best compression that I’ve seen, which means reducing the file from a really large size down to a small one while maintaining the best quality, is the legacy export inside of Adobe Photoshop. I’ve used other tools and the Adobe Photoshop legacy feature actually comes up with the best file quality and size.

That’s something to consider taking a look at. Also, if your pages have long load times consider your photo optimization along with the filenames.

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