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Image Search - does changing image URL help or hurt ranking?



4:11 pm on Jul 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Anyone have any thoughts or past experiences on revising a legacy website to tune it for Google Image searches? Such as renaming image filenames, moving images to different folders, updating img alt text...just beginner type tuning. Was it worth the effort?

I'm also wondering if changing the image URLS will trigger any type of duplicate situation for Google or cause it to distrust images from the website. Thanks.


8:55 am on Jul 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Image Search is a rather slow beast when it comes to evaluating any changes at all. If you change the file path (including the file name), I think you may end up back at the beginning of the queue for a while. Now, if you're already not ranking, then that may be worthwhile.

I would not expect any kind of duplicate problems from renaming image file names or changing file paths.


12:24 pm on Jul 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

If you change the file path (including the file name), I think you may end up back at the beginning of the queue for a while.

So, changing the file path may decrease some ranking factor enough that for a period of time the image vanishes, but then once that period elapses better benefits could be realized? I think that's what you're saying. Thanks for your input, tedster.


3:41 pm on Jul 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Was it worth the effort?

Definitely, do I assume you have a plain html site?

If so the results could be dramatic and a lot faster than it used to be, I am getting new site build images ranking well within a couple of months these days.

This is a very valuable freebie!

1. Make sure the image is actually the name of the widget, do not give it some random hexadecimal number
2. Complete the alt and title attributes
3. Make sure the html file name is the widget name
4. Ensure the titlebar is the widget name
5. Complete the description with the widget details
6. Complete the keyword with synonyms
7. Make sure that 4, 5 & 6 are also on-page
8. If the widget is from a specific widget line, country or something else well known, make sure the folder(s) describe them correctly.

For instance the url may look something like this:


9. For easier file construction make sure you are consistent with both file and image names.

For instance the image may look something like this:


10. Remember that for images to rank better you have to make it easy for the algo to understand, give it garbage and it won't have a clue what's there!

Now where do I send my consultation bill? :-)


1:11 pm on Aug 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

HuskyPup: Thanks for sharing your results. I was specifically looking for results for changes to a legacy system, not a new site build. Have you had good results with changes to an existing website?


1:56 pm on Aug 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Have you had good results with changes to an existing website?

In the mid 90s we built sites with abbreviated urls, hexadecimal image reference numbers etc. Probably because we did not have a lot of competition at that time they ranked reasonably simply because they had their respective names underneath the image and usually in the keywords attribute.

I found that very unsatisfactory however my computer guys thought it wonderful since it meant they did not have to do much work. It was whilst working as a remote Google beta algo tester during 98-99(?) that I realised that the game was fundamentally going to change and I had to fix my sites to rank well. I immediately decided to re-build all sites in CSS using the format I have described above, and using W3C suggested best practices, and even new sites still use the same method.

If you are ranking for some images now I would say you will temporarily see a reduction however this will be more than offset when you see them come back in much higher than before.

Of course it will depend on your competition and their skills however there are very few who get it right since not many people have spent time studying how to do it correctly even though it is in the W3C guidelines.

One last thing...you can construct an image page perfectly, do absolutely nothing wrong...and it still will not rank! I have yet to work out the reason for that but I ain't losing any sleep over it since 90+% work fine.


2:04 pm on Aug 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for the followup note, I appreciate it. :)


6:46 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi HuskyPup, what an interesting post! I have a website that has previously (3-4 years) been doing quite well for text based searches and also for image searches but I have noticed recently (I have foolishly tended not to monitor the image ranking results as often as word results)that the image results that were on pages 1 or 2 have now gone.
The way I had previously added images was to reduce the image to a thumbnail in order to help the speed of the page... ie.. 100x100 and that was also the actual size of the image in its location of /widget.jpg - Is this incorrect? Is it better to have a larger size image and reduce it for the text page where it may be inserted? Or, am I reading above that it is perhaps also better to create an html page to insert the image (jpeg) and add the meta tags etc.
My partner has a image based site as a budding widget artist but although great images doesn't rank anywhere for them.

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