When I started off with content writing, I used to believe that great copy is all it takes for a piece to get maximum readers. But as I started writing more and more, it dawned upon me that if it wasn’t for the images that all the people I followed, used in their blogs, I would actually fall asleep halfway through it. You might disagree with me here, but think about that history book you had to go through in school – no interesting images; just facts after facts.
So after writing thousands of content pieces for products across both B2B (what you might call boring) and B2C industries, here’s what I learnt – your blog images say a lot about your content!
If you don’t pick the right images, you might not even be able to capture that fleeting attention span of a typical internet user. Admit it, when something really peculiar shows up on your feed, don’t you stop and see what it is about?
Picking the right images for your next blog post
1. See if you can use it in the first place
Okay, first things first. Before you make use of an image, you need to check if you can do so. For instance, you can’t be using an image that a company or a person has a copyright over, or one which is strictly stated as not available for commercial use. Violating image copyrights can be a costly affair – trust me, I have seen it happen once and it was really not the best thing happen to a startup; especially when you’re trying to save on resources.
Instead, I focus on using more of free stock images, referring to images from other blogs with due credits or creating a few on my own.
2. Check the image for relevance
You might get the best looking image on a free stock image website, but there’s no point of it till it is relevant to your blog. Now there is a high chance you may not find something that exactly matches what you’re writing on, but that doesn’t mean you keep relevance aside completely.
For instance, if I am writing on content marketing, an image of a vehicle as my feature image, would absolutely make no sense to you. On the other hand, if I use an image of someone writing or typing something, you’d still be able to relate with it. See how HubSpot does it:
But in this case, I have also been through instances where I just don’t find an image. I spend hours and hours looking for something, but come back empty handed. If you too hit that roadblock, make use of smart image editing tools like Canva, Piktochart, PicMonkey and others to add a little overlay text on the free stock image you chose.
Just as I did in this blog post:
3. See if the image is click worthy
Or if you prefer calling it, ‘compelling enough’.
In times when thousands of businesses are fighting for the attention of a similar target market, relevance of an image is not enough to attract people. You need to ensure it is compelling enough for them to stop browsing their feed and click on that link.
Now the first image you use (or the feature image) is what social media channels and search engines automatically pull while sharing. You could of course change the same while sharing it on your channels, but an internet user might share it as it is. And if that image isn’t good enough or interesting, you actually might lose out on readers from this user’s network.
Be quirky, be relevant, be funny and definitely be a tad bit interesting. No matter what your business niche is!
For instance, I used this in one of my blogs:
4. Check the quality of the image
One of the things that sometimes really puts me off, is the quality of the images that businesses and some bloggers make use of. Their content is literally mind blowing, but the image they use, is either pixelated or very low quality.
Whether you’re designing the image on your own or using a free stock image, make sure you have the image in the right resolution. A pixelated image will make you lose all your credibility in seconds!
5. Make sure the image loads on time
You want to make your content piece look the best, so you use high quality images. But page load time is still something you need to keep in mind. You’ll lose more than 50% of your readers, if your blog images don’t load properly or take too long to load.
Imagine having to wait for a good 5 minutes for an interesting infographic to load. You’ll probably wait a few seconds and then leave to look for alternate sources of information.
As a practice, I always download the highest resolution of an image and then compress it using TinyPng. It’s a pretty nifty tool for all those who struggle with even the basics of image editing, like me!
6. Optimize images for all the devices
Your readers could be using any device. They could be making use of the desktop at their office, their mobile phones or the tablet they use for internet browsing. Either ways, you ned ensure that the images you make use of, look the best on all the devices – whether it is a simple free stock image or one with a text overlay on it.
The best way to ensure this, is to use a responsive theme on your website or blog. That’ll do the trick!
Alternatively, I also like to use a few gifs every now and then. They just make the blogs look so much more fun and more like we’re having a regular conversation on chat. After all, who doesn’t like emojis right?
Making your blog images work for you
Choosing the right images for your blog isn’t going to get you readers. You need to take a few more steps to ensure you’re making the most out of the images!
1. Make your images shareable
Right from the very first image, to the last, ensure that a reader is able to share them at any given point in the article. This can be done easily by including a ‘Pin it’ button on your images. The easier it is, the more shares you get. And the more shares you get, the more readers flock to your site!
2. Name your images properly
I have noticed that many businesses just upload a free stock image into their blog and don’t really bother renaming it. Now when I as a reader, download this image, it gets saved in complete gibberish. Instead, why not take a few more seconds and rename the image as you upload it into the media library? It’ll not just be great for your readers, but will also make searching for the image later, easier for you.
3. Add captions to your images (wherever possible or needed)
I don’t make use of too many captions, but there are times when I feel there is an absolute need to do so. For instance, if I am sharing a screenshot from a product dashboard, the reader would have no clue where it came from, unless I wrote something below or above it. Just to make sure, adding a little caption helps them recall the image faster.
4. Write the alt text and title text
Let’s just say, it is the only way for internet users to find your images or understand what they are about. For example, when you’re searching for a picture on Google images, you’re not really looking at visiting the blog post – you’re merely wanting to find an image that suits your need the best. Now if a business made the effort to add these descriptions, you’ll know which source you can credit for an image that is closely related to your content piece. For more image SEO tips, visit this article by Yoast.
5. Focus on the image alignment
Call it my pet peeve, but a badly aligned image can really ruin the overall reading experience. I prefer keeping the images centre aligned to maintain consistency. But if your blog requires you to add an image to each point and you’d prefer having a thumbnail to each one of them, don’t break the left reading line.
Why use images in your blogs
Now you might be wondering that all this is way too much hard work and why do you even need to do it in the first place. Well, those are the questions that even I had when I started off. But to answer them well, here are the answers I had gotten:
1. Images break the text monotony
Like I mentioned before, if you had to read a long article that only included text, it would get boring after a minute. What’s worse, is that it will also put strain on the reader’s eyes and that’s exactly what you don’t want.
2. Images make things interesting
Text monotony makes things boring. That’s it! I don’t want to read a white paper that does not include at least few graphs that make it simpler and more interesting for me to consume information.
3. Images are processed faster by the brain
When it is interesting to look at, you automatically pay more attention to what is in front of you. The same holds true with images. The brain processes images faster than text; so if you’re trying to convey something complex, images would work better than text would any day.
4. Images increase search engine traffic
Yes, you read that right. If you optimize your images well with the right keywords, they can go a long way in bringing you consistent traffic from the search engines.
5. Images get you more shares
If it’s interesting, why wouldn’t someone share it in their circles. Think about all those memes you share on social media or the infographic you referred to in a LinkedIn update. If it wasn’t for the image, you’d have probably skipped sharing the post. More shares get you more word of mouth, and that gets you more readers!
Should you use a lot of images in your blog post?
The answer to this is pretty simple: Add as many images as you like, but make sure you’re not overdoing it. Anything overdone, never results in anything good!
As long as you’re adding relevant images to your blog post, all is well. There is no one size fits all when it comes to the number of images you should be using. Just keep the reader’s experience in mind and you’ll never go wrong.
What other things do you keep in mind when choosing images for your blog post?