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November 15, 2017 (Updated: February 28, 2020)
For effective, entertaining content, you need more than just informative text. Relevant images can grab readers’ attention and encourage more people to visit your site. They also make your content more memorable.
Blogs with images get 94 percent more views than those without pictures, and shoppers are more likely to buy a product online when they can use an image to take a look at it first. Images can also help you with SEO or search engine optimization and attract people using image searches. Here are some ways you can use images to increase your rank in search results and get customers to notice your site.
Image via Flickr by http://tvorbaweb-stranok.sk
Images are a great way to add more information to your content. For example, if you’re writing about a new car, adding a few pictures of the vehicle will let readers decide if they like the way the exterior looks and see all the features in the interior. Use unique pictures instead of generic stock photos, and take the picture yourself when possible.
You can also use an infographic with a mix of images, charts, graphs, and text. An infographic, a meme, or an interesting image is easy to share on social media as well. You can even include videos, animations, and other types of interactive media. Use the text portion of the infographic to invite people to buy your product, subscribe to your email list, or visit your social media page or your YouTube channel. People who skim past standard text will often pay attention to a visually appealing infographic.
Using keywords in the filenames for your images helps search engines decide if they’re relevant. It also helps you find pictures more easily after you save them on your computer. Whether you’re searching online or looking through your hard drive, it’s difficult to locate an image when the filename is just a series of numbers. Instead, name the file something like hands-writing-keyboard.jpg for a picture of a person typing on a computer.
Make sure you place hyphens between the keywords so that search engines will recognize them. If you name the file handswritingkeyboard.jpg or hands_writing_keyboard.jpg, you won’t get the same benefit. If you link to an image, you should also use a descriptive URL.
Alt text or tags also help search engines determine what your images are about. If you use an image to link to another website, choose alt text that describes the content of the page you link to as well as the image. Along with improving search engine optimization, alt tags tell blind and visually impaired people with specialized browsers what an image is about. Here’s an example of the HTML code you would use to create an alt tag: <img src=”hands-writing-keyboard.jpg” alt=”hands writing on a keyboard”>
According to Google, you should place all the images on your site in the same folder for the best SEO. You should also list and link to the images on your sitemap so that people can find them easily. Look at your website analytics to see what phrasing patterns visitors use to perform searches, and then use the most common naming patterns to choose filenames and alt text for your images. There’s no character limit for alt text, but you should try to be as concise as possible. Search engines will interpret too many keywords as spam or keyword stuffing.
A large image file can provide a big, high-quality picture, but it takes more time to load. If all the images and other information on your site doesn’t load immediately, most people will only wait a few seconds before abandoning the page. Also, looking at a large image is difficult on the small screen of a smartphone. More people today use their phones to look online than use PCs or laptops. Google and other search engines use page loading time as a factor to rank search results as well.
If you need to use a large image, reduce the file size with Photoshop or another image editing tool. You can also use a thumbnail to link to the image. That way, viewers can see what the image is about, but they only have to wait for it to load all the way if they want to take a closer look. However, using a lot of thumbnails will delay page loading time just like using a big image would.
Make alt text for thumbnails different from the tags for the full-sized pictures. Only add images when they enhance your content, and don’t use pictures as a decorative background. After all, your website should look modern and easy to navigate, not like an old MySpace page.
The most common file types for posting images online are JPEG, GIF, and PNG. JPEG or .jpg is an older file type, but it’s most popular for posting pictures online. They’re easy to compress for good quality and low file size. GIFs are lower quality, and they’re usually used for icons, decorative pictures, and videos or animations that last for a few seconds. PNG images are an alternative to GIFs that supports more colors. They also don’t degrade over time as people share them and save them over and over like JPEGs. However, their file sizes are larger.
Unfortunately, creating your own images isn’t always practical. You can’t take a picture of the Grand Canyon without spending the time and money to travel there. Instead, you can pay to use a copyrighted image or use one of the many free pictures on sites like Flickr and Google Images. Just make sure you add appropriate image attribution. It’s a legal requirement to use some free images, but you should give credit to the creator as a courtesy even if it’s not required.
Adding the right images to your website and making sure they can load quickly will make viewing your site more informative and entertaining. Attracting more visitors to your site will also increase your page views and make your search engine ranking higher.
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