Search Engine Optimization

Sound Organic Strategy Naming Photos

dashes in photos instead of underscores

There are many working pieces to the puzzle of gaining traction in SERP results, one of which gets overlooked time and time again. Many content creators claim to be skilled at SEO elevation but we’ve seen quite a few of them fail in grasping how important it is to pay attention to sound organic strategy when naming photos before sending them out to be placed on the internet. This is becoming an increasingly more important effort considering the Penguin 4.0 updates that began in September, particularly the Image/Universal Drop that happened on September 13, 2016.

Good organic strategy in photo naming
An incognito Google search for images for our client Pandora de Balthazár shows our images are named properly.

Sound Organic Strategy Naming Photos

We’re sure you’ve heard the ubiquitous phrase “content is king” but there’s more to the discipline than writing striking blog posts or product descriptions on a web site. Though these are certainly the most important aspects of gaining a following, there are other valuable smaller pieces to the healthiest content-creation puzzle that are often ignored. I believe it’s because many website designers hail from a strict tech background that hasn’t taught them how important every aspect of the content behind the content can be, such as alt and descriptive text on images, or even the image titles themselves. And many bloggers aren’t aware that there are other aspects to content creation beyond the posts they create.


Title Photos Carefully

Most people take the images a client, publicist or photographer provides and simply plug them into the media library in a blog CMS without changing the title. Due to my roles as journalist and blogger, I receive untold pitches daily and it is rare that images have any searchable power in their titles. I understand that photographers and web designers need a formula to control the many images they manipulate daily but I believe better attention could be paid to descriptive powers, especially since so many bloggers and content creators skip the Alt text box when uploading images.

Here’s an example of an image I received not long ago: the original title is “RLP-69-cynthia-2.jpg”; before I use it, I will change the title to “Cynthia Rowley at Design Bloggers Conference.jpg” [Wordpress will automatically put the dashes in for me when it formats the image for the post.] A photographer who was paying attention to making sure his client’s name is in the title of images he/she sends out is responsible for a folder of images I was recently sent that have titles such as “08_KireiStudio_Cannes_MAJ.JPG.” This is terrific in terms of including the client’s name but the person titling the images doesn’t realize that underscores are not good for search-engine viability because they glom words in the phrase into an ungainly non-word, whereas dashes separate them into a searchable long-tail phrase.


Use Dashes in Photo Titles, Not Underscores

Images should have dashes between the words/numerals instead of underscores and Google’s Matt Cutts has a simple, clear video (below) about the issue if you’d like to take a few minutes to understand it more fully.



Here are a few image examples that make the issue even clearer, our first offender this image from 1stdibs, a powerful site but only when people can find their way back to your products: this George II settee is titled 1067686_1.jpg, a true opportunity lost in search-engine viability because sound organic strategy was ignored.

good organic strategy dashes in photos


Because this image title below was adequate for sound organic strategy when I downloaded it from WikiCommons (Banquet-of-Henry-VIII-York-Place-e1439918414142.jpg), I left it alone and added the Alt text “The painting Banquet of Henry VIII at York Place.”


dashes in photos instead of underscores


This Tiffany 1837 tape measure below,  like one owned by Jackie O, has an adequate SEO title of “tiffany-1837-tape-measure-14550879_226945_ED.jpg.”

Tiffany 1837 tape measure named properly


This image I scraped from a post I created has the client’s name and product name spelled out for great exposure in an image search (Currey-and-Company-Vert-de-Chine.jpg). Someone landing on this image in a Google search would know to go to the Currey & Company site and type in Vert de Chine table lamp, giving the searcher a better chance of finding this table lamp they may want to buy.


Currey and Company Vert de Chine sound organic strategy


Alt and Descriptive Text Next Time

We’ll deal with the importance of alt and descriptive text on photos in another post soon.

Text of Sound Organic Strategy Naming Photos © adroyt, all rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, the adroyt blog is maintained by Saxon Henry. Saxon is an author, poet and digital strategist whose books include Anywhere But Here, Stranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns. She also maintains The Diary of an Improvateur.

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