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I am working on an artist's portfolio website.

Let's say I want each artwork's image filename to contain its basic information, like so:
Category - Artwork Title - Size, Medium, Year.jpg

In actual usage, the filename might become long, like this:
Illusions and Existentialism Exhibit - The Imaginative Artwork Title - 12 x 18 inches, watercolor, 2010.jpg

My purposes for putting all that info in the image filename would be:

  • to keep the image files organized and readable (in the backend)
  • to retain that information in case people download the images
  • to pull data from the image filename to be displayed on the webpage

I know from here and here that Google guidelines encourage descriptive image filenames, but my example filename is 103 characters long. - is that too long?

Will there be any technical issues for filenames exceeding a certain number of characters?

Does it significantly slow down loading time?

I read here that 255 characters is a safe limit based on file system limitations, and that some browsers limit the URI to 1024 characters (but not sure what that means for my question). This other thread says 70 characters is a good safe limit, but I'm not sure how they came up with that number.

Will there be any other issues, like SEO-related issues?

Does it make it seem like it's spam / keyword stuffing?

I think the filename structure is focused on the artwork's actual description, and not keywords, so I hope it doesn't seem "spammy".

Can anyone point me to references that recommend a specific filename length limit, as well as the explanation for that limit?

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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. Keep the filename including its file extension below 255 characters. Just to be safe. The actual lenght doesn't really matter. Personally I have never seen a penalty coming from a too long filename. Just don't keyword stuff it!

  2. Take into account that some characters have different encondings (such as ä, ö, ü, é, etc.) making your filename actually longer.

  3. A 1024 character URL is way way long. Example:

http://www.google.com/dfgagagergtergadgvdrgg/kjsdfjsdfksdjhfskjdhfxksdjf-dsfsdafasdjndsfds-efdsfafadsfdsf/sadfkuhsdafjligjdigljdsklgdf-adsgkjadhgkjdfhgkjdafngdakfg-dfgkadfhgkajdfghkjahfdhgere/asdfkjshkfjsdkfhsdkjfhakjsdfdsf-sfddahfkjsdkdfsaf-sadkfjasdkjfhsdkjhfkreuhgkdnvmbnvrjhf-eferfgdgvdfsgdfsg/sdkfhksjdnfkajsdfkewjfrejslkcjsbykfchvclhdsfklesjdfyhglwearkhgiuferwjposfadfkfewrwersdf/dsf/sadfkuhsdafjligjdigljdsklgdf-adsgkjadhgkjdfhgkjdafngdakfg-dfgkadfhgkajdfghkjahfdhgere/asdfkjshkfjsdkfhsdkjfhakjdahfkjdshfksadfdsafksdfjasdkdfsaf-sadkfjasdkjfhsdkjhfkreuhgkdnvmbnvrjhf-eferfgdgvdfsgdfsg/sdkfhksjdnfkajsdfkewjfrejslkcjsbykfchvclhdsfklejkfhyhglwearkhgiuferwjposfadfkfewrwersdf/dsf/sadfkuhsdafjligjdigljdsklgdf-adsgkjadhgkjdfhgkjdafngdakfg-dfgkadfhgkajdfghkjahfdhgere/asdfkjshkfjsdkfhsdkjfhakjsdfdsf-sfddahfkjdshfksadfdsafksdfjasdkdfsaf-sadkfjasdkjfhsdkjhfkreuhgkdnvmbnvrjhf-eferfgdgvdfsgdfsg/sdkfhksjdnfkajwjfrejsl/Illusions and Existentialism Exhibit - The Imaginative Artwork Title - 12 x 18 inches, watercolor, 2010.jpg

Utterly long and I highly doubt you will reach that, ever. So no worries there.

On a aside note, I'd always opt to using descriptive subfolders. In your case, this could be something like:

http://... .com/2010/watercolor/illusions-and-existentialism-exhibit/the-imaginative-artwork-title_by_X-Y_12x18inches.jpg

Sources here, here and at the Google Image Publishing Guidelines Article.

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Thank you for the specific and detailed answer! @DKOATED I will keep your tips in mind. 255 characters seems like a reasonable limit. Glad that this doesn't affect SEO. I didn't think it would, but I wasn't sure. –  Feanne Jul 31 '13 at 20:49
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