If you have any doubt how important visuals are online, take a moment to go to a couple of your favorite blogs or online news magazines and see how many visuals they include on their home page and on individual posts (chances are, even short articles have at least one image). Then log into Facebook and scroll through your Newsfeed, paying close attention to the ratio of text to images. And if you’re still not convinced, spend some time perusing popular visual social networks like Instagram and Pinterest.
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It’s pretty safe to say that if you’re not already adding at least one image to each of your blog posts, you should be. Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits of adding images and some of the ways you can make the most of the visuals on your site.
Benefits of Adding Images to Your Blog Posts
Keep eyes on your post longer. Have you been noticing a high bounce rate for blog posts and other pages on your site that are text only? Web users don’t like reading large blocks of text (especially if they’re accessing your site from a mobile device), which is why experienced bloggers break their posts up using short paragraphs, subheadings, bullets, and yes, images. Images are particularly valuable because they add color to the page and are processed by the brain more quickly than text, making your blog more appealing to the viewer.
Improve SEO. If you’ve ever uploaded an image on a platform like WordPress, you’ve probably noticed that you have the opportunity to fill in a title, caption, and alt text. While only captions will appear to a web page viewer (the title is hidden and alt text is only seen when you move your cursor over the image), all three are valuable because Google will look at them when ranking your page in its search engine results. Try to use keywords for your image fields (and for the image file name itself) in order to make your post and website appear higher on the page for relevant searches.
Create an emotional connection. Sure, well-written text can elicit an emotional reaction, too, but images pack more of an emotional punch into a short viewing (a picture is worth 1000 words, after all). If you’re trying to prime your readers to feel a certain emotion while reading your post, lead in with an image that conveys that feeling. For example, if you sell grills and you’re writing a post about preparing summer vegetables, you might use a photo of a happy couple using one of your grills to make kebabs.
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Encourage social media sharing. You’ve probably already noticed that when Facebook users share a blog post, Facebook automatically adds a thumbnail of an image from that blog post… unless there is no image. In that case, Facebook will either add a photo from another part of the website (often not what you want) or just won’t include a thumbnail, which makes it much more likely that viewers will quickly scroll past the blog in their News Feed. By adding at least one image to each blog post, you’ll be sure to have visual appeal on social media and will encourage more sharing in the process.
Best Practices for Adding Images to Your Blog
Take your own product photos. If you’re talking specifically about your product or services in your blog post, then it would make the most sense to include your own original images (for example, if you’re highlighting a house that your construction company just built, you should have a large selection of photos of that house to choose from). You don’t necessarily need a high-end camera: most phones now have decent cameras built in, and you can use free online photo editing tools like PicMonkey and Pixlr to adjust your lighting, add filters, crop your photos, and more.
If you can’t use your own photos, look for royalty-free images. There will probably be other cases where it doesn’t make sense or isn’t feasible to use your own images. In those situations, look for royalty-free stock photos that you can use without worrying about copyright infringement. You might want to subscribe to a paid photo database like DepositPhotos, but you can also find free-to-reuse images on sites like Flickr Creative Commons, Photopin, or MorgueFile.
Use infographics to share complex data or processes. Although creating an infographic will be more time-consuming than taking or finding a free photo, infographics are great for making statistic-heavy or highly technical posts easier to digest (and are valuable for both driving traffic to your site and increasing social media shares). If you’re feeling hands-on, you can make your own infographics using templates on sites like Visual.ly and Piktochart, but if you’d rather leave it to the professionals, you can look for a freelance graphic designer.
Size your pictures appropriately. If you’re trying to set, say, a feature image on a platform like WordPress, you’ll see that there’s a recommended size, and if you choose an image that has dramatically different dimensions, it will become distorted. Fortunately, you can use free tools like Pixlr to crop or change the dimensions of an image to better fit your blog post.
If you aren’t already using images on your blog posts, you should start doing so. It’s not time consuming or expensive, and it can provide a huge pay off.