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Best Practices for Naming Website Images

What you name your images can make a big impact on your SEO rankings.

Search engines scan your site and read your image titles and files. If you have really strong names, your site can rank higher for your keywords, especially in image search results. We've compiled some tips on helping you name your files properly and optimizing your images for the best results.

Reasons to name your photos intentionally:

  1. ADA compliance – the visually impaired rely on screen readers to describe your website's content via file names and alt tags. Not adhering to the basic standards of ADA compliance can result in significant fines.
  2. Image search rankings – People search for all kinds of things and naming your files properly and adding Alt Text will help in your images showing up in image searches.
  3. Your own file organization - DCM-2020-0519-12345678.jpg isn't really that helpful. We suggest that you organize your images like you organize your computer files. 

Tip #1 – Be descriptive, but not verbose

Using "pizza.jpg" as your file name? Boring! And Google thinks so too. What's on, around, beside, or below the pizza? Make your file names easy to understand and easily organized. 

❌ pizza.jpg ✅ pizza-on-cutting-board-sauces-coca-cola.jpg

Tip #2 – Use dashes instead of underscores

In the world of search, underscores aren't read by search engines. So, if you use underscores, computers will read the file name like it's all one word. If you use dashes, then computers can read each word separately.

❌ Starry_Sky.jpg

✅ mountain-landscape-at-night-with-shooting-stars.jpg

Tip #3 – Alt Text

Alt Tags for images allow you to get more descriptive with your image. You don't want to make your file name too long, so here is a way to tell the search engines what the image is about. Just don't go overboard on the description. Be concise.

Also, it allows for more functionality and reduces missed opportunities for people using screen readers or may have images disabled in their browsers. 

Most content management systems (CMS) like WordPress will have the ability for you to update your media images with titles, captions, and alt text. 

❌ Leaving Alt Tags blank

✅ A young man in a cafe on his Mac laptop with a cup of coffee. 

Tip #4 – Using Captions

Captions are the content found under the images and give readers more context as to what the image is about, but also adds visual enhancement to your content on your page. People like to skim content, and adding captions where necessary helps keep people engaged. You don't have to use captions everywhere, but using them properly and where it makes sense will definitely boost your SEO as well as article engagement.

Tip #5 – Using Structured Data

If you have ever searched online for a recipe, you have probably run across search results with images next to them. Using structured data can help search engines display your images alongside your search result. While it's not really an SEO play, it does result in high click rates. Google Images support the following structured data types: 

  • Products
  • Videos
  • Recipes

The following are some of the cards and search results you'll find when looking for recipes online.

There are some rules to using structured data, so check out Google's Structured Data Guidelines for more information.


In all, make sure that you're optimizing your images where it makes sense - using captions to help with reading, alt text for ADA compliance, structured data for higher click rates, and overall, creating a better user experience for your readers.