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How to Effectively Incorporate Images Into Your Web Content

Are you more likely to click into a blog post that has images or no images? The use of images -- photos, diagrams, drawings, gifs, Vines, etc, -- has really grown over the past few years with enhancements to social media such as Facebook’s timeline update to incorporate more images and Pinterest being one of the top 3 social media sites. We are very visually motivated and cliches about pictures being worth a thousand words now being out of the way, there’s research proving the right image can make a piece of content really perform.

You want to make sure you use images appropriately to capture users’ attention, and add value to your content and not use deceptive clickbait images like pictures of cats (unless your article is actually about cats). Images (if used well) are also a great SEO tool for your page, and according to this infographic, articles with images receive 94% more page views than articles without images.

SEO benefits of images:

  • Text does carry a higher weight for search engines like Google, but the value of images shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are some good habits to adopt:
  • Naming your file: you should make sure you name your image file using appropriate keywords that are relevant to the content in your post, because search engines will crawl your site and pick up the file names.
  • Alt text: Make sure you always add [alt=”image description”] to the source code of your images. WYSIWYG editors will usually prompt for this description text. “Alt” stands for alternative text which will display if your image is broken, and will also get picked up by search engines and also be used for screen readers used by visitors with vision disabilities.
  • File size: Keep file sizes as small as possible so you don’t add to your page load time. Google ranks pages higher if they load faster for their users. You can optimize images with image tools such as Photoshop or Gimp, but you should also run them through image compression tools. Here are a few free tools that work pretty well:

Image compression:
I mentioned above that image compression is good for SEO, but it is also critical for your overall website performance. Whenever possible for design, have images pre-loaded through CSS so they will start to load as the page is loading and keep your site performance high. Try using this free performance scanning tool to see how your images impact your total site performance: http://www.webpagetest.org/

Proper image licensing:
Image licensing is very important and overlooked far too often. Images are subject to copyright protection and you as a web site owner are responsible for ensuring the images on your website are properly licensed and cleared for use. There are commercial image services where you pay for a subscription such as http://www.gettyimages.com/ or http://www.istockphoto.com/. Some images have different licensing terms set per image so make sure to read the fine print, you shouldn’t just go to Google or Flickr and grab an image. You can always make your own images or have a designer or photographer create them for you. I have also found some free image services and images cleared under creative common rights that you can use:

My advice on images comes down to this: make sure you use images in your content, in your social media, and on your website, and make sure you are using licensed images that are compressed and SEO optimized. Happy image hunting!

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