Do you use images effectively on your website? Adding an image to a blog post isn’t just about adding a bit of colour or something nice to look at.
Today’s post will look at the importance of having a shareable image, using additional images to add value to a post, and how to make sure all your images are optimised.
WHAT IS EFFECTIVE USE OF IMAGES?
You need to:
Have an image that people can share, while making it easy for them to do so.
Have images that explain or add value to the post.
Have images that are optimised.
1. AN IMAGE THAT PEOPLE CAN EASILY SHARE
We write blog posts to inform, entertain and build relationships with our readers. We also want our readers to share our posts and expose our small business to their own followers.
To achieve this, you need to supply a image and make it easy to share.
Although all social media platforms have their own requirements in terms of dimensions, you want an image that can be shared in as many places as possible.
At the top of this blog post, you’ll see an image that has been formatted to suit Pinterest. The nice thing about this size is, as long as you keep the important text in the centre, it will crop legibly when shared on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Many successful sites just include an image that is sized for Facebook. They know that's where most of their readers share posts and it will work for Twitter too. If your audience don’t hang out on Pinterest, that may be sufficient for you too.
Once you have this image in place, you'll need to make it easy for people to share it. There are plenty of plugins available for this.
For example, if you look on this post, you’ll see I’m using SumoMe share buttons (to the left on a laptop, at the bottom on a mobile). You can also see the default SquareSpace share buttons at the bottom of the post.
Remember, it doesn’t matter where you have a social media account. It matters where your visitors have accounts. This is about other people sharing on their networks.
You may not be on Pinterest yourself, for example, but that doesn’t mean people who do use Pinterest can’t spread the word about your blog on your behalf. It's a great way to achieve a presence on a social media platform without even having an account there.
Visitors can share any image from your post. So, if you use more than one image in a blog post, make sure they all have a web address or logo and include relevant alt text (see point 3 below).
The most important thing is, make it as easy as possible for people to share your work.
2. IMAGES THAT ADD VALUE TO THE POST
Once we have a shareable title image in place, we can look at adding further images.
How can images add value to your article or encourage the reader to stay the distance?
Don’t feel obliged to add an image for the sake of it. Try and ask yourself how an image might help your reader have a better experience. If they do, they're more likely to share and more likely to return.
You need to choose the right type of image for the information you are presenting.
HOW-TO & STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIALS
How-to blog posts are incredibly popular. On this blog, for example, there are lots of Photoshop tutorials. These favour video and before-and-after photos.
Video works well for me because my tutorials are screen-based. If, however, you would rather use images, screen grabs (for a software demo) or photos (for a craft or recipe demo) are a helpful way to illustrate a step-by-step process.
Tip: I would recommending taking far more photos or screen grabs than you think you need. You can often find you are missing a step when you come to compile the blog post. It’s easy to throw away digital photos you don’t need but not so easy to take one after the fact!
Videos and before-and-after photos are a great way to illustrate how-to tutorials.
BREAKING UP THE TEXT
You can use images to encourage people to keep reading, breaking up big chunks of text. They also serve to draw people’s eyes down the page. If you can get people all the way to the end, the chances are they'll take the time to share your post.
When choosing images specifically to break up text, do still consider how they can add value in other ways.
Tip: An easy way to do this, and create a shareable image at the same time, is to turn pull quotes into graphics or click-to-tweets.
ILLUSTRATE AND SIMPLIFY A COMPLEX TASK
If you're explaining a complex task, paragraphs of text are not the best way to engage people. Short, to-the-point written instructions, coupled with clear diagrams, are a great way to simplify things.
You can use infographics to give an overview of something detailed. They're also incredibly popular on platforms like Pinterest. People never seem to tire of sharing them.
Tip: This is also a great way to plan a more complex blog post. Start with a sketchy diagram to make sure the process is clear in your own mind and use this as an outline for your writing. Then take the outline sketch and turn it into a final image.
Not only do infographics and diagrams simplify complex information, they are also popular and shareable.
DEMONSTRATE A PRODUCT
When you demonstrate your own products, you want to show them in their best light. You probably already have a series of professional images of your product you use for marketing purposes. These can be repurposed for use in your blog posts.
Video is ideal for demonstrating how to use your product. Think about the questions your customers ask you on a regular basis and answer them with a video demonstration.
Tip: Make sure you use the best images of your products. If you don’t invest in professional photography for anything else, this is the place to do it.
DEMONSTRATE A SERVICE
It may not seem as easy to think of ways to demonstrate a service with images. You will, however, probably have a process of some description that is associated with your service e.g. an application or on-boarding process. These make great flowcharts.
Again, pull quotes from your post are an easy and an effective way to get your brand voice out to the world. You can also turn testimonials or customer questions into graphics to illustrate the point you are making.
Tip: As a service provider, you are front and centre of your brand. Consider a professional photo shoot of you at work, so you have a bank of branded photos to draw from.
PRESENTING YOUR POST
If a topic is long or complex, turning it into a presentation of the key points can make it easier to digest.
It also means more people will consume your information. If they don’t want to wade through a long post, they can still flip through the slides.
Tip: Don’t forget to upload your presentation to Slideshare. It’s hugely popular in the B2B sector and is a quick extra step after the hard work of creating slides.
Presentations make long documents more digestible. Don't forget to put the slides on a site like SlideShare too.
3. IMAGES THAT ARE OPTIMISED
USE A CONSISTENT STYLE
Always make sure your images represent your brand. It can be something as simple as including your logo or website to a series of branded templates.
It doesn’t sound important, particularly when you're looking at just one image. But, over time and as your traffic and shares increase, you'll start to see the impact a strong visual brand can have.
And, more importantly, so will your readers. They'll become familiar with the look and feel of your brand and start to recognise it when it pops up on their social feeds.
USE CAPTIONS TO GRAB ATTENTION
Consider using captions under images to make sure you communicate with people who are scanning through your article or those that view your pages without the images.
They are, surprisingly, one of the most read elements of a blog post. As people scan through your post, you can see how they would jump out. Anything that stops people in their tracks is worth a try!
If you're a SquareSpace user, the caption is effectively your Alt Text, so don’t forget to add it and just don’t show, if you prefer no captions.
OPTIMISE FOR SEO
Your images can contribute to your SEO as much as anything else on the page.
Make sure you rename images to reflect the keywords for the post you are writing. Keep them small and fast-loading - humans and search engines both love speedy sites.
Always add Alt Text. This helps search engines ‘read’ an image, adds a few more keywords to your page, is viewable for those with screen readers, and people sharing on social get a pre-written, keyword-rich description (try pinning the image at the top of this blog post to see what I mean).
Why not grab the free PDF on Optimising Blog Images, covering WordPress and SquareSpace.
USE IMAGES LEGALLY
And, of course, always make sure you have permission to use the image in the way you are using it.
There are so many excellent, free-to-use images available now, there's no excuse for grabbing and using any image you please from Google any more.
USING IMAGES EFFECTIVELY
Follow these three simple steps to make sure you are using images effectively on your site.
So, next time you put together a blog post, answer the following questions:
Have I create a branded, shareable image for this post?
Can I add any other images that would add value to my reader (also shareable and branded)?
Have I optimised the images I’m using?
You see, blog images really are much more than something nice to look at!