What is an Image URL and its Best Practices?

What is an Image URL?

Ashkar Gomez
11min read
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“Are you facing difficulty in creating visually appealing content for your website?” Or “Frustrated with the Broken Image Links?”

If Yes, You are not alone. Many Website Owners face the problem of incorporating images into the online content effectively and flawlessly.

The Image URL is the simple but powerful tool that holds the key to this solution.

The Image URL is the digital address that instructs the browser to retrieve and show images from the internet.

Whether you are seeking inspiration through fashion blogs or home decor, understanding the Image URL is essential to utilize the visual richness of the Internet.

In this article, let’s explore the Image URL in detail and learn how it shapes the online presence.

Image URL: What is it?

An Image Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a web address that indicates where an image file is located on the internet.

It functions as a digital pointer that enables web browsers to retrieve and display images from web servers.

These URLs are widely used in web development so that images can be seamlessly integrated into the web pages and viewed by the users as they browse the internet.

Example – https://www.example.com/images/photo.jpg

Importance of Image URL in SEO

Image URLs play an important role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a number of reasons as follows:

  • Image URLs are essential for search engines to find and index images on the internet. Optimized Image URLs increase the possibility of images being discovered and featured in search engine results.
  • Search engines can better understand the content and relevance of images with the help of descriptive and keyword-rich Image URLs.
  • Image URLs offer an opportunity to incorporate relevant keywords related to the Image Content. Image URLs optimized with keywords improve SEO performance and rise in organic traffic.
  • Descriptive Image URLs assist users in understanding the context and content of the image before clicking on them. This improves user engagement and lowers bounce rates which are positive signals for SEO.
  • Adding Image URLs in XML Sitemaps provide search engines with additional information like Image titles, captions and license information which improves the indexing and visibility of images in search results.
  • As well optimized descriptive Image URLs also appear next to images it increases the likelihood of images being shared and clicked driving the referral traffic.

The Basic Components of Image URL

The basic components of Image Uniform Resource Locator (URL) includes,

  • Protocol – It describes the protocol for communication that was used to obtain the resource.

This can be either Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) or HTTP Secure (HTTPS) for secure communication.

  • Domain Name – It identifies the web server that is hosting the Image file.

It could be an IP address or fully qualified Domain Name like www.example.com.

  • Path – It represents the web server’s directory or folder structure where the image file is stored.

It provides the exact location of the image on the file system of the server.

  • File Name – It gives the Image file’s name along with its extension.

It pinpoints the exact image that needs to be downloaded from the server.

The above explained basic components is demonstrated with an example as follows:

Basic Components of Image URL

How Image URL functions?

Image URLs work by offering a standardized way to identify and retrieve images stored on web servers.

Here is the step by step breakdown of how Image URLs function:

Step – 1 – – > When a user accesses a web page containing the image elements, the web browser sends a request to the web server hosting the web page.

Step – 2 – – > The browser then parses the Image URLs incorporated within the HTML markup of the web page. The server location of the images is specified by these URLs.

Step – 3 – – > After determining the protocol HTTP or HTTPS mentioned in the Image URLs, the browser connects to the web server using that protocol.

Step – 4 – – > Using the Domain Name System (DNS), the browser converts the Domain Name given in the Image URLs to an IP address. This enables the browser to find the web server hosting the images.

Step – 5 – – > Once the domain is converted, the browser connects to the server and sends a request for each image that is referenced by its URL.

Step – 6 – – > After receiving the Image requests, the web server uses the path mentioned in the Image URL to find the relevant Image files. It then retrieves the Image files from its storage like file system or database.

Step – 7 – – > The requested Image files are sent back to the browser by the web server in the HTTP response. The Image data along with metadata like content type, size and caching instructions are included in the response.

Step – 8 – – > After receiving the Image data, the browser decodes and renders the images with the specified dimensions and styling. The images are displayed to the user as a part of the content of the web page.

Types of Image URLs

There are various kinds of Image URLs used in web development and content management systems

The following are some common types:

Absolute Image URLs – These URLs provide the entire web address of the Image file including the protocol (HTTP/HTTPS), Domain Name, Path and File Name

They enable the web browsers to retrieve and display the image from any location on the internet by identifying the exact location.

Example – https://www.example.com/images/photo.jpg

Relative Image URLs – These URLs specify the location of the Image file in relation to the current web page or document.

They only contain the path and file name and do not contain the protocol or domain name.

When referencing images within the same website or directory structure, relative URLs are commonly used.

Example – /images/photo.jpg

Data Image URLs – These URLs use the data URI scheme to encode Image directly into the URL.

The image data is embedded within the URL itself rather than referring to an external image file.

Data Image URLs are helpful for embedding small images directly into HTML or CSS code without requiring separate Image files.

Example – data: image/png;base64, iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAABAAAAAQCAYAAAAf8/9hAAAAF0lEQVR42mP8  /vYTCQgAGXYAAAcZAdx6H4QAAAAASUVORK5CYII=

Dynamic Image URLs – Web applications or server-side scripts can create dynamic Image URLs by utilizing system parameters or user input.

These could contain variables and query parameters that determine the properties or content of the image during runtime.

To display customized images or thumbnails, Dynamic Image URLs are commonly used in e-commerce platforms, image galleries or content management systems.

Example – https://www.example.com/image.php?id=123 size=medium

CDN Image URLs – Content Delivery Network (CDN) Image URLs are optimized for delivery via CDN services.

Images can be served from geographically distributed servers closer to the user’s location because they usually include CDN specific domain or subdomain.

CDN Image URLs lower latency and Network Congestion which enhances website performance and image loading times.

Example – https://cdn.example.com/images/photo.jpg.

Possible Problems with Image URLs

Image URLs have a number of potential issues that could negatively impact SEO, user experience and website performance.

The following are some common issues:

  • Broken Image Links – Image URLs become broken or invalid due to changes in file paths, website restructuring or server configuration.
  • Image Sizes not optimized – Excessively large file sizes and dimensions slow down the page load times and consume more bandwidth.
  • Improper Image formats – For specific types of images, selecting the incorrect image format like JPEG, PNG or GIF can result in larger file sizes and unfavorable image quality.
  • Alt text missing – Inadequate or missing Alt Text can negatively impact SEO by affecting accessibility and make it difficult for the search engines to interpret the content of images.
  • Copyrights Issues – Using Images without the proper authorization or licensing can lead to copyright violation issues.
  • Duplicate Content – Duplicate content problems arise with using the same Image on several web pages with the same Image URLs. Search engines declare these as spammy or low-quality leading to lower rankings and penalties in search results.

Best Practices for Image URLs

It is important to utilize the best practices for Image URLs to improve SEO, user experience and website performance.

The following are some suggested best practices:

  • Make use of descriptive file names that accurately describe the content of the image by incorporating relevant keywords.
  • To enhance SEO, include relevant keywords in the Image URLs.
  • Properly size images without compromising the quality to reduce file sizes and minimize bandwidth consumption. This will also improve the website performance and loading times.
  • Select the right file formats like JPG, PNG or GIF according to the type of Image Content. For photos use JPEG, for graphics with transparency use PNG and for simple animations use GIF.
  • Use descriptive Alt Text for Images which describes the purpose and content of the Image.
  • Including well optimized image URLs in the XML sitemap will help the search engines to discover and index images more effectively.
  • Use responsive Image Strategies to ensure the best possible display of Images across different devices and screen sizes.
  • Provide Canonical URLs for Images to prevent problems with duplicate content and enhance ranking signals.

Conclusion

In Conclusion, the image URL is more than just a collection of characters, it serves as a guide for an exciting visual experience across the broad landscape of the internet.

In the evolving field of digital storytelling, knowing the significance of Image URL is mandatory as it holds the key to expose visually captivating content.

With the correct URL, you can take the audience to exotic locations, arouse emotions and leave a lasting impression.

So the next time you encounter an Image URL, keep in mind that more than just the technical specifications, it is the entryway to the world of breathtaking images that are just waiting to be discovered and shared with the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Search Engines index Image URLs?

Yes. Search Engines do index Image URLs as a part of their web crawling and indexing process.

By Optimizing Image URLs with descriptive file names, relevant keywords and proper Alt Text, Images can be more visible and rank higher in Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

How to find the Image URLs?

The most common method is Right Click on the Image and search for the option like “Copy Image Address” or “Copy Image URL”.

Depending on the Browser you are using, the wording may differ. By Choosing this option, the image URL will be copied to the clipboard.

What is the Image URLs Maximum Length?

The maximum length of an Image URL varies depending on a number of factors such as configuration of the web browser, the limitations of the browser and the URL encoding Standards.

For compatibility reasons and to prevent possible problems with URL Parsing and Rendering, it is generally advised to keep the image URLs short and to the point.

Picture of Ashkar Gomez

Ashkar Gomez

Ashkar Gomez is the Founder of 7 Eagles (a Growth Marketing & SEO Company). Ashkar started his career as a Sales Rep in 2013 and later shifted his career to SEO in 2014. He is one of the leading SEO experts in the industry with 8+ years of experience. He has worked on 200+ projects across 20+ industries in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, UAE, Australia, South Africa, and India. Besides SEO and Digital Marketing, he is passionate about Data Analytics, Personal Financial Planning, and Content Writing.

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