While having good names for your images is important, such as “greenapple.jpg” instead of “DSC1058.jpg”, changing the image names once they’re already live on your site might be a bad idea.
For more about this news, check out this article over on Search Engine Journal.
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There are a handful of important things to do to help images rank well on your site; the biggest is the alt text, but the file name of the image is a factor too. However, if you’re not happy with your image filenames you might be best to just leave them as they are.
During a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout, a user asked: “We’ll have a technical change in our shop that will change all of our image URLs… Does Google know that this is the same picture? Or will we lose rankings? Should we set up redirects for image URLs?”
Google’s John Mueller gave an answer that began with a simple word: “Yes”
John went on to say: “Yes, this will affect your website in Google Images in the image search. In particular, if we see changes in URLs with regards to embedded images then that’s something where we will have to go off and first recrawl those images, reprocess them, reindex them, and get them all ready for image search again.”
“So if you just change the URLs that are referenced within your pages then that will result in those images being seen as new images. And with regards to your ranking they will kind of have to work their way up again.”
While we often talk about redirects for pages that change, you can set up similar redirects for images. You’re best off not changing them at all, if possible, but if you need to change them then be sure to set up redirects so that Google will know where to find them.