Create SEO-friendly URLs for Web Images with Cloudinary

September 13th, 2016

URLs for images are typically not useful for search engines because they’re comprised of an extensive list of random characters. To boost your site’s SEO ranking, you need concise, meaningful image file names that make it possible for search engines to extract information about a picture. Because uploaded image files rarely have descriptive names, it poses a challenge for developers and site content managers, who are tasked with maintaining short, meaningful, SEO-friendly URLs.

Cloudinary offers two features that can help developers improve search engine optimization of their images – Root Path URL and Dynamic SEO suffixes – and enables you to use your domain in the URL. These features are useful for a website, as well as a web application, owners, and are recommended for content-heavy sites, such as online magazines and news sites.

Root Path URLs

Cloudinary’s image URLs are delivered via CDN and use folder names as their path prefixes. These include resource and image types, such as /image/upload and /raw/upload. The most popular prefix among Cloudinary’s users includes /image/upload in its URL. Now, with Cloudinary’s Root Path URL feature, the /image/upload section of URLs can be removed, leaving only the image’s public ID (file name) at the path’s root – significantly simplifying the URL.

Below is an example of an image that was uploaded to Cloudinary and was assigned basketball_shot as the public ID:

And here is an example of a Cloudinary image URL that uses the Root Path URL feature:

Both URLs yield the same uploaded image:

The Root Path URL capability also enables users to add parameters for on-the-fly image manipulation. For example, if an uploaded image needs to be cropped to 200 x 200 pixels, it can be transformed just by setting the width and height parameters to 200 and the crop mode to ‘fill’ (see text in red in URL below).,h_200,c_fill/basketball_shot.jpg

00x200 basketball shot thumbnail

Cloudinary’s client libraries (SDKs) can be used to build delivery URLs and add image tags. To do so, you only need to set the new parameter, use_root_path, to true.

For example, the code sample below was used to create an HTML image tag with an image URL using the Root Path URL feature:

  cl_image_tag("basketball_shot.jpg", :width=>200, :height=>200, :crop=>"fill", :use_root_path=>true)

Dynamic SEO Suffixes

Cloudinary offers users the ability to create image URLs that are more comprehensive and descriptive. Each image uploaded to Cloudinary is given a public ID, which is its name for delivery URLs. Users can define custom public IDs with a string of text or multiple folder names (separated by slashes) while uploading images. These public IDs can be as descriptive as necessary.

The Dynamic SEO Suffix feature goes further, allowing users to separate the process of uploading an image and assigning a public ID from creating descriptive URLs. If an image is not given a suitable name during the upload process, you will be able to assign additional URLs to the image afterward. For example, with this feature, you can dynamically add multiple suffixes to create as many descriptive URLs as necessary for your site. You may want to use these URLs to support different languages for a single image or to reflect specific content on certain pages.

To add a Dynamic SEO Suffix, an image’s path prefix must first be changed from the default /image/upload to the shorter version /images.

Here is an example of an image that was uploaded with the ID tepu4mm0qzw6lkfxt1m and is delivered by the following CDN optimized URL using a standard path prefix:

mage delivery
Below, the suffix basketball-game-in-college was added, which is the text that search engines use to index the page and image:

In the URL below, the same image is given an additional, separate suffix in Spanish:

Additional image transformations then can be easily made by adding parameters to Cloudinary’s on-the-fly manipulation URLs. Here, the same image is transformed to a 200 x 200-pixel crop with rounded corners and increased saturation:,h_200,c_fill,g_west,r_30,e_saturation:50/ltepu4mm0qzw6lkfxt1m/basketball-game-in-college.jpg

00x200 thumbnail with dynamic SEO suffix

This capability is also applicable for non-image raw file uploads and private images. For raw files, the resource type /raw/upload should be replaced by /files, and for private uploads, the resource type /private/upload should be replaced by /private_images. When using Cloudinary’s SDK for various development frameworks, set the new url_suffix parameter to any text, and the URLs will be built automatically with either a /files or /private_images prefix, as well as the added suffix.

Use Your Own Domain

You can also make your URLs more SEO friendly by using a custom domain (CNAME) for your URLs instead of the shared The SEO suffix and CNAME features also can be used together, for example:


It’s important to note, though, that to use the SEO suffix or CNAME features, your account needs to be setup with a private CDN configuration, which is only supported by Cloudinary’s Advanced Plan or higher.

With these capabilities, Cloudinary can help you easily create advanced image manipulation and delivery URLs, which will assist in optimizing your site for search engines. Cloudinary users can use both the Root Path URLs and Dynamic SEO Suffix features together to build a short and descriptive image URL. The Root Path URL capability is available for all accounts, including the free tier, and the Dynamic SEO Suffix capability is available with Cloudinary’s Advanced Plan or higher with a private CDN setup.

For more information, or to sign up for an account and test these features, visit the Cloudinary website.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Cloudinary

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