Use Images in Blog Posts and Get More Engagement

blogging and images

Did you know that articles with images get almost twice as many total views than articles without images?

Still wondering why images are so important to your blog?

Check out these great facts from the same source - Jeff Bullas: blogger, author, strategist, and speaker.

  • Press releases that include photos and/or videos receive almost twice as many views as those that do not.
  • 6 out of 10 consumers are more likely to get in touch with a business if an image shows up during a local search.
  • 67% of consumers consider the quality of a picture very critical to their decision to purchase a product. Fewer people rated product-specific information, long descriptions, and ratings and reviews as equally important.

Images are not only important, as we can see, but they are more important than ever. Advances in smartphone technology worldwide mean increasing numbers of consumers can take professional quality photographs at any time. With the proliferation of portable camera devices have come the rise of image-centric social networks, notably Instagram and Pinterest, but not forgetting the mighty Facebook.

In SocialBaker's study, 93% of Facebook's most engaging posts included photos.

Why do people engage with photos to this level?

skateboarding image

One reason is that we process images very quickly. An image can produce an almost instant emotional response in the viewer, far faster than when reading a paragraph of text or even a single sentence.

Studies have also shown that people retain information better too when text and images are combined, which goes some way to explaining the popularity of infographics. In this study, presentations that incorporated images persuaded 43% more viewers to agree with the point of view of the presentation. This alone suggests that images go hand-in-hand with persuasive content.

What Kinds of Images Work Best?

Image of People

According to Nielson's data, people find images of people engaging.

If you're writing a blog post about what happened to you when you only ate fruit for two weeks, you might find that an image of someone eating an apple is more efficient than an image of even the most beautiful bowl of fruit.

picture of a girl eating an apple

Consider this when selecting images for your blog posts. Try to get a face or at least some body part into your images to capitalize on emotional responses and the empathy of your readers.

While you're at it, ensure that you've included a good photo of yourself on your website. A good photo is clear, well-framed and communicates your personality. It might be worth having a professional photographer help you to create your personal image online. Don't use that one of you belly flopping the kiddie pool at Lanzarote.

Images That Serve a Purpose

Choose images that impart information, illustrate a point or exude personality. Using poor quality stock images to fill white space does not count, even if there are people in them.

You can often tell when a website has used the wrong image. Rather than engage with the image in a meaningful way, you might find yourself wondering where the company downloaded that photo and whether or not they paid for it. It's also possible that you might not notice it all, as a consequence of it being so overwhelmingly bland. A poor fit is an image that does not align with the blog's topic in a way that communicates the message.

Infographics and Multimedia

Infographics are particularly effective at imparting information. They are also eminently shareable via social media.

Using visual media such as infographics and video keeps the content of your site dynamic, potentially reaching varied users who prefer different content types.

How to Optimize Images

Make sure your images load quickly.

google page speed

Almost half of web users want images to load within 2 seconds.

Load-time is particularly important for mobile, where users might be viewing your content on the go, using a flaky connection, on a relatively small screen. They want your image to load before being plunged into another train tunnel.

The speed with which your images load is also an important consideration regarding SEO. Faster sites rank higher with Google.

To achieve optimal loading speeds, aim for image file sizes of less than 100kb and use Google's PageSpeed to see if your site needs optimizing in this respect.

Use ALT-Tags to Describe Your Images

An ALT-tag refers to the text you might see just before your image loads (in 1.9 seconds). If the image fails to load, users will be able to see the placeholder and the ALT-tag, the text that you've entered that explains the image

Your ALT-tag should serve two purposes.

First of all, use the text to describe the image. Imagine that you are describing the image for a blind user. You are. And for anyone else who might be using a text-only browser. There are reasons for this, including not having to wait 1.9 seconds for your images to load.

Search engines cannot see images, but they will read your ALT-tags. This presents an opportunity to use blog post specific keywords and keyphrases. Your ALT-tag should ideally be physically descriptive, but can also explain the image's function on your site. Filling in your ALT-tags is a good way to ensure that your images are working for you, communicating some aspect of your message, not just looking pretty.

When using keywords in your ALT-tags, don't just stuff them in. Although many people won't see your ALT-text unless they hover their cursor over your image, Google checks them out as standard, and we know how Google feels about spam.

Location. Location. Location.

Try inserting your first image to the left, right or above your first paragraph. By doing this, you grab the readers' attention with an attractive, meaningful image and then their eyes are positioned to move quickly on to the accompanying content.

Break up blocks of text with images.

When considering how many images you should use per blog post, the answer is similar to that of how long your blog post should be. Research has highlighted some interesting facts, but there isn't a definitive answer.

According to BlogPros, 100 top performing posts featured an image every 350 words on average. As with blog post length, don't get bogged down with image counting. Use as many images as necessary to communicate your point.

Use Quality Images in Your Quality Content

high quality image

A good visual design will suggest your professionalism and credibility to your visitors. Using high-quality images is a core element of achieving the kind of look that says you mean businesses and that you can be trusted.

If you don't have an in-house graphic designer IStockPhoto and Shutterstock are good examples of paid image services. The benefit of paying for access to professional photos is the consistent level of quality combined with the knowledge that you have the right to use them on your blog.

There is a vast array of free, public domain and Creative Commons alternatives, however, which are available to use either with or without attribution and are particularly worth considering for new and small businesses or individuals on a budget. (In this case, we recommend librestock.com)

For the most part, you're likely to be looking at gif files or jpegs. Gifs are limited to web colors (256 shades), making them most appropriate for graphics, charts, animations and the like. Jpegs, on the other hand, have a significantly better color range, making them suitable for photographs, but quality suffers when they are compressed, so illustrations and text might not stand up too well online. These are the most common graphic formats used online, but you might also come across pngs or tiff files, which are widely accepted by web browsers, but can have large file sizes, causing pages to load slowly compared to gifs and jpegs.

To perform a Google search for free, reusable images, click 'image' in the Google search menu and then select 'search options' to access the drop-down menu, from which you can then choose from a variety of usage rights. Be aware of the source website for the file and take your time to vet the image quality (size, resolution, file format) before using one on your site.

Sometimes you'll find just what you need via Google's image search, but you might benefit from digging a little deeper for a picture that resonates with your brand and your readers. The power of images is such that it's worth the effort.

A stellar image can be just what you need to lift your posts and earn them the attention that they deserve. Don't skimp on the quality of your images, nor any other aspect of your blogging. Creating impeccable, impressive content will soon become a habit that you won't want to shake, and others will want to emulate.