You have done your research. You have carefully articulated the best piece of content you possibly can for your blog or website. You have closely edited and revised it multiple times. You feel incredibly confident the entire world is going to fall in love with this amazing chunk of information you are about to provide and readers will flock to your site by the thousands. But it still seems like there is something blatantly missing. Oh yes, it’s images and graphics!
Let’s be honest. Unless you’re writing about an amazing topic that really hooks our interest and keeps us on the edge of our seat, most readers won’t pay much attention to an article that is loaded with text and has a complete lack of images. Plain and simple, the article looks unappealing. Even more importantly, specific images can also strengthen the blog post and increase valuable SEO traffic related to the images within the post. Depending upon your time frame and potential budget, there are several easy ways to spruce up your article. Let’s review a couple of the most common questions we get when it comes to image usage:
Where can I find free images to spruce up my blog posts?
There are numerous sites out there offering free images for blogs and websites. It just depends on the circumstances and what corresponds to your piece of content the best. If you’re quoting something that is image specific you can do so as long as you source them and link to the original post. Examples of free image resources available to use are:
If free images don’t satisfy your needs and you feel like you need something a little higher in quality, feel free to check out licensed images sites for a reasonable price:
What’s better: a photo or a custom graphic to use in a blog post?
Typically, a custom image is going to relate much more closely to the overall theme of your article. The more specific and tangible you can be, the better. A simple example: if you are writing an article about a man who really enjoys surfing, don’t just use his head shot from his social media profile. Try to use an image of him in the act of actually surfing. This might seem a little obvious, but there are tons of blogs out there who overlook this kind of attention to detail completely.
There are a variety of ways to obtain custom graphics. If artistic ability and time are not on your side, but money is, you can always hire a graphic designer to compose some quality images for you. Fortunately, at Vertical Measures, we have two talented graphic designers on staff that creates custom images and headers for our blogs. If you are lucky to have someone like this on your staff that is a wonderful resource but just make sure to provide them with specific direction on what type of message you want to convey. On the flip side, if you are feeling adventurous, you can try your own hand at creating an image and download a graphics design software tool kit online, or take your own digital photos and edit them on your computer.
Some helpful free photo editing software options available are:
How do you make images relevant to your blog post?
Most certainly the first step is to write the post first while making sure to highlight your main points along the way. After that, try to decide what stats or quotes really jump out at you. These will provide great sources to assign images to. Just make sure the images still relate well to the overall message and point of the post. It is easy to stray off topic and post things merely because they are interesting but not entirely relevant. Relevancy is key!
How do you adjust and optimize your images correctly? And why?
There are various options available to adjust and optimize images. Ultimately it comes down to your personal preference and what you are trying to accomplish. Ideally, you want your readers to be able to view your images quickly while maintaining a high level of quality and resolution. Something to consider is that not everyone has a high-speed internet connection, so downloading an image with a large file size could potentially cause your readers to grow restless while waiting and move on to other sites. Make sure the image is high quality but renders quickly on the web. Proper resolution is 72 pixels per inch. Here are a few simple image formats to utilize for the web:
- JPEG: This file type is ideal for high quality photography galleries and graphic designs. Typically this file type is going to be a bit larger than the others but you can always compress them while still maintaining a high level of picture quality.
- GIF: This is a format best suited for more simple types of images such as: charts, icons, buttons, and simple graphics.
- PNG: This type is similar to the .gif but has a slightly larger file size. Its’ primarily used for buttons and icons because they usually have smaller pixel dimensions so they should not be too large to begin with.
When it comes to optimizing your images, there are a few key components to address. Understanding and utilizing ALT text is a very significant part of it. In simple terms, ALT text is the text that the search engine uses to understand and identify images. The more specific you can be, the more likely your image will be indexed by search engines appropriately. If your ALT text is something very generic like “bear,” then it could fall to the bottom of a list of thousands of bear images on Google images or other image directories. But if you label it something similar to “grizzly bear riding a bicycle,” your image is more likely to rank higher in the search results for any query that is close. Now, let’s hope someone is actually searching for that!
Captions are significant too because, even though they are not taken into account in search engine rankings, they do help dictate bounce rates. The more intriguing and informative the caption, the less likely readers are going to quickly move on to another page. Lastly, picking a descriptive filename before uploading your image and composing a caption that will grasp the reader’s attention are also just as valuable. It’s too often that people take an image from their camera and the file name is something like “NSC1096802.jpg.” That’s not search engine friendly. To use my example from above, try “grizzly-bear-on-bicycle.jpg.” All of these are just a few basic aspects to keep in mind when adding images to your blog post.
Why Images Are So Important in your Blogs
Images are often overlooked or possibly considered as an after-thought when it comes to composing blog posts. But honestly, they are what bring your posts to life! Yes, they have the ability to increase your search engine rankings, but they also do so much more. They give you an opportunity to paint a more specific picture in your readers’ minds on what you are trying to say. They also allow you to express your creativity and prove to the world how passionate you are about your topic at hand. With all of the countless resources out there to make creating and enhancing images easy, it definitely leaves no excuse not to utilize images in all of your future posts.