If you have images on your website that are likely to change (e.g. have a different watermark), but the same image name, should you add version information to the end of the image name, or would this be bad for SEO purposes?

I have an issue where we have changed the watermark on a number of images 5 months ago, but Google Image search still shows the old watermark on the images. So I am assuming that Google hasn't downloaded the new images as the filenames are the same as the old ones.

  • 4
    What's up with the downvotes? The question is interesting, and of good quality. If there's something else wrong, please point it out.
    – user1599
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 14:01
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    Are you using ETags? And are the ETags changing when the image changes?
    – MrWhite
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 17:02
  • @w3d It looks like ETags are just used to indicate a change to a page. I don't know if that would force search engines to retrieve the images again? Many of our pages have user comments, so I guess that would trigger the search engines to re-index the pages anyway - but the images are still not being updated in the Google Image Search. Thanks.
    – Techboy
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 18:26
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    ETags are an additional HTTP response header that can apply to any resource, be that the page, external JavaScript or CSS files and images (and anything else you pull in via a URL) ...in order to indicate whether that resource has changed.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


There's a bit of interpretation necessary, but if the modifications make the image qualitatively "different" enough for you to be asking this question, then it arguably isn't bad to version the filenames in some way, which then makes it actually a different image. You obviously see it as important that the new image/version get picked up, which implies that the previous one isn't what you want showing in results and so on. Moving beyond Google a bit, it's worth noting that some CDNs also let you attach query strings to links, image references, etc. to indicate that something's been updated.

  • We will be moving to Azure soon, but msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff919703.aspx says that query strings are ignored for blob content. So I guess we might need to rename the images - my only hesitation for doing this is SEO, but I guess we could change them to 'xyz_.jpg' then back to 'xyz.jpg' again later. Thanks
    – Techboy
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 18:19

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