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How even filenames play a part in your gallery's web strategy

How do you proceed when you add pictures to your gallery's site? You routinely copy/paste them from your pictures' files, right?

No need to add the artist's name in the filename because they are already in the artist's folders. And obviously not your gallery's name. After all, they are only meant for internal use on your gallery's site.



On the web there's no such thing as 'internal use'

The filename you give your pictures can not only be seen by everybody, in some web tools they get even more attention than you imagine. Google images, the popular search tool, displays filenames above each picture on its results page. In bold.


Very few galleries follow a naming strategy

A brief check of gallery sites' source codes or Google images results pages reveals that most galleries are clearly not aware that their pictures are looked up out of context.

Some simply copy/paste the filename given by the camera such as 'SV04062.jpg' or 'DSC0659.jpg'. Others go one step further and add abbreviations or size references such as 'resized210111.jpg'' or 'Image-02-600x340.jpg'.

Very few pictures come with the artist's name in the filename. Almost none with the gallery's name.


Can you make something out of 'SV04062.jpg'?

Not really. Once out of the gallery's context such filenames become untraceable.

By now it should be clear that there is a difference between the pictures for internal use and the ones you publish on your site.

And this difference should be reflected in their filename.


But wait a minute... isn't this whole idea nonsense?

Isn't there always a link to the website where is the picture is located beneath the thumbnail? And doesn't Google images even gives additional information and options in the right side bar?


So ... why all this extra attention on the filenames?

Why all this trouble if people can find all the information with little extra effort? Exactly...
it's all about this 'little extra effort'.

People are not only overwhelmed by the dozens of thumbnails displayed, they also become lazy once they are on the web.
Most don't even notice the hyperlink to the corresponding site or the information in the right column.


Google images is maybe the perfect example

Once more: on Google images people scan for 'pictures', not for information. They 'trust' that Google images comes up with the best pictures available.

They don't even take the time to read the additional information, except the 'name' in bold above the picture, even if it is displayed as an integral part of the picture.


Therefore put all relevant information in the filename

The core mission of Google images is offering as many thumbnails as possible, related to the search term entered.

Your role as gallery owner is to ensure that you properly represent the artist who made the pictured object that the visitor landed on.


How do you that?

Basically by looking at your pictures out of your gallery's context first. The 'strategy' is to already highlight the link 'artist-work-gallery' in the filename.

Almost no galleries adopt this web oriented naming approach linking the artist, the work and the gallery's name in their filenames.

And yet, web oriented filenames offer perfect opportunities to spread your visibility on the web. They are an integral part of a well-thought web strategy.



Things you can do immediately


  • If you're not familiar with Google images, go to
    Enter the name of one of your artists and see what Google images returns.
  • From now on, follow a consistent naming strategy for all the pictures you will insert on your site, works of art as well as illustrations, logo's, graphics, etc.
  • Save and store your low resolution web images in a dedicated folder. Pictures in this folder are for web use only, their filenames are set up with the web in mind.

Google images only displays part of the filename, so:

  • Include at least the artist's name (first name and surname) and your gallery's name
  • Better (and in a consistent way): artist's name - work's title - gallery's name at gallery's location - year or other distinctive information.
  • No need to write all information in full, although Google images will accept it. Keywords separated by a dash will do.


  • Should you decide to rename existing pictures, be sure to avoid broken links when you upload these renamed files.



Discover how the web offers you three more opportunities to get noticed with your pictures.



Next step: Enjoy how to turn your email signature file into a multi-purpose give away to optimize your gallery's web strategy using these easy-to-implement tactics.



If you haven't done so already:



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Article written by Luuk Christiaens