We have images which we would like to name like: product-category-id.png?width=500&height=100

Example: nike-air-span-2-premium-shoes-men-123456.png?width=500&height=400

Now the server will return the image with

  • id 123456
  • a width of 500
  • a height of 400

And store it in a CDN, so next one is cached.

Now the question is about the querystring parameters width & height. Will google now see seperate images for each different querystring parameter value. Will these be 2 images for google or 1:

  • nike-air-span-2-premium-shoes-men-123456.png?width=500&height=400
  • nike-air-span-2-premium-shoes-men-123456.png?width=250&height=200

And thus should i maybe minimalize variants (to increase internal links to each image and give more popularity)?

1 Answer 1


Putting parameters on a URL makes new URLs. Googlebot will see those two different URLs separately as separate images.

Should you minimize the variants? Not necessarily.

  • Googlebot does duplicate content detection. It will likely figure out that the different image URLs have the same picture. When that happens it will likely choose one of them to rank and ignore the others. See What is duplicate content and how can I avoid being penalized for it on my site?
  • Unlike web search, PageRank popularity isn't the most important factor for image rankings. The most important factor is "image quality". By which Google means "bigger is better". It is far easier to rank the biggest resolution version of your image compared to the anything scaled down.

In practical terms that means that I usually recommend disallowing Googlebot from finding all thumbnails and scaled down images, and direct Googlebot to the largest resolution image in most cases that it is used. For example your robots.txt could contain:

Disallow: *png?width=*

And when you use an image you could mark it up with a link like this:

<a href="123456.png"><img src="123456.png?width=250&height=200></a>

This would allow you to show the small image to users in the page, while still passing PageRank to the image. Google image search treats links to the image just as powerfully as an img tag usage.

You could even use JavaScript to intercept users that click on the image and show them the larger sized image in some sort of lightbox or popup instead of having their browser leave the page to view the image. As long as users can see the full sized image, Google wouldn't consider that to be manipulative or cloaking.

The only case in which you wouldn't want to link to the large image is when you link the image to something else instead. For example if you link a thumbnail to the product page, don't worry about the link to the large image there. Googlebot will find it on the product page.

  • "choose one of them to rank and ignore the others." - Although users can search by "size" (to some extent). "you could mark it up with a link" - Although Google image search will provide a link back to the webpage that contains the image (SEO value?) - if the image that is returned in search is not on a page, what backlink is provided?
    – MrWhite
    Oct 28, 2019 at 15:42
  • If you link to an image, Google will return the page that contains the link. If that link is around a thumbnail, users have no problems finding it. The "search by size" feature in Google Images isn't used enough that I try to optimize for it. Oct 28, 2019 at 15:45

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