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October 19, 2016 (Updated: August 16, 2019)
When it comes to developing blog content, selecting good images to accompany your text is one of the best practices of modern content management. The reason? Images make blog posts look better, improve readability, increase search engine traffic, and in many cases, help reduce website bounce rates. If you regularly write blog posts, here are six tips to help you ensure that your content always features awesome visuals.
When searching for images, get in the habit of using keywords that relate to the content of your post. Are you writing about black and white photography? If so, some relevant keywords might be “photography camera,” “photography equipment,” or “photographer.” How about hot air ballooning in New Mexico? In that case, try your search using keywords like “hot air balloon,” “hot air balloon new mexico,” or “hot air balloon festival new mexico.” Whatever your topic, make sure your keywords are specific enough to target the best images, but not too specific that they overly narrow your search results.
If you ever have trouble identifying appropriate keywords, try using a keyword search tool like Google Keyword Planner or Keyword Tool.
As you consider potential images, make sure they relate to your content. It’s not imperative that the images be literal representations, but the connection between them, the blog text, and the headline should be clear. If you’re ever struggling to find blog images, you can gain some inspiration by doing a Google Image search to see how others have illustrated the idea.
You can also tweak your posts’ headlines to include words that have distinct imagery associated with them, like “slice,” “shatter,” and “ignite.” It’s sometimes easier to find illustrations that relate to these words even if they don’t literally relate to your blog content.
Image via Flickr by xumet
This may seem like an obvious tip, but with the abundance of low-quality images floating around the web, it’s easy to select a visual that fails to illustrate the topic of your blog post optimally. Avoid this by choosing images that are crisp, clear, authentic, and interesting. Your chosen illustrations should always be high-resolution (though not too high) and never have plain white backgrounds, poor lighting, or clashing color schemes.
Keep in mind: If your blog images aren’t high-quality, you will risk losing the blog’s credibility and your own authority as an online writer, so choose carefully.
Although you can usually adjust the size and aspect ratio of images using a photo editor, it’s always better to select illustrations that are close to your desired proportions. Will your blog post look best with a large picture that’s in portrait orientation? Or maybe a small picture with equal dimensions? Or maybe even an image with a width that’s much larger than its height? Try to find a great image that already fits these size specifications, if possible, so you won’t have to do lots of editing later.
Another important consideration: Image size directly relates to the speed at which your webpage loads. The average webpage visitor will abandon a page if it doesn’t load in three seconds so steer clear of very large images unless you know how to properly optimize them for the web.
These days, an increasing number of Internet users are accessing the web from mobile devices. According to The International Data Organization, an estimated two billion people worldwide will use a mobile device to surf the Internet in 2016. Even more shocking? That number will likely rise by two percent every year through 2020. For this reason, you must choose images that aren’t just clearly visible on computer screens, but also on smartphones, tablets, and more.
Ensure that you’re using the right images by selecting ones that are at least 200 pixels x 200 pixels, but not too large that they affect webpage load times, as mentioned above. Be especially careful when inserting screenshots or images with text overlays, as these are not always visible across devices. If your blogging platform lets you preview your posts on different screen sizes, take advantage of this feature before submitting your work.
When you’re on the hunt for illustrations, it’s tempting to pull them directly from a Google Image search. Don’t do this. Many images found on Google are copyrighted and if used illegally could land you in serious trouble. Instead, you can pay for photos through sites like Shutterstock or get them completely free (but provide attribution) through sites like Flickr Creative Commons. If you absolutely must use Google, you can filter the search results to only display those that are “Labeled for reuse.”
You can also avoid potential copyright issues by hiring a photographer to take your photos, by taking them yourself, or by creating your own custom blog images online.
Once you’ve chosen awesome blog images, you still need to optimize them for search engine rankings. After all, what good are stellar visuals if they don’t help you attract readers? Start this process by giving your illustrations accurate and keyword-rich file names. This means that the default “some number.jpeg” name won’t cut it. Always rename your images based on what you want them to rank for and use hyphens between words.
Once you’ve uploaded your image to a blogging platform, there are a few more SEO optimization steps to take:
Choosing the best blog images is crucial for the success of your blog. By following these six tips you’ll not only select images that look awesome, but also ones that will help your blog posts perform better from a reader and search engine perspective.