Images are among the most important website elements nowadays, especially for bloggers looking to make content more attractive. The reason is that images make complex and factual content easier to digest and boost the number of shares on social networks.
Search engines are also fond of appealing images and pictures, people are easier attracted to images than text, and thus more likely to choose a blog that contains such.
But why some certain pictures make people click on them? Or even more importantly, why do images play such a vital role in website’s SEO strategies?
The answer is quite simple – good images respond to the two most important needs of every website: they attract the attention of visitors and search engines and retain people exploring their content once arrived. Basically, images can determine the website’s capacity to compete with its counterparts (thus, if you want to know how to make WordPress more interactive, check this!)
Optimizing your images is thereof the first thing you should do to preserve a competitive edge. It may take some time to perfect this strategy on your own, but it will definitely be worth the effort.
Optimize images with people in mind
It may sound like common sense, but the images you upload must speak in favor of your content. A mismatch between the image and the article may look unprofessional and misleading, in particular for bloggers intimidated by bold and big-picture solutions. Technology nowadays allows you to upload all formats and sizes, so make use of it!
Upload with RSS feed users in mind – they will scan your content and be easily captured by large and attractive images. If the picture uses real people, make sure they are mimicking eye contact with the reader to secure you more views.
Optimize images with search engines in mind
First and foremost, consider the formats and sizes acceptable by different browsers and devices, and compress imagery until it corresponds with the requirements (some of the image plugins you might find useful for your website).
You will easily be tempted to add many images on the same page, but try not to exaggerate. Use only the pictures that are absolutely relevant.
Next, develop an SEO strategy. Use the most suitable keywords for your images positioned in strategic places, including page and image titles, descriptive texts, and alt texts. Before you know it, your website will be correctly indexed by all search engines and positioned high on their searching lists.
Optimize images with social media in mind
As we all know, the thing people share the most on social networks are images, followed closely by interesting and interactive videos. There are few activities you should consider to make sure images will spread fast on all social portals and bring you the desired traffic:
The measure is gorgeous: We probably don’t even have to tell you this, but believe it or not, there are people who are challenged to choose inspiring images.
Keep the formats standardized: The most commonly used images types are jpg, png, and gif. In all other cases, you will endanger the image’s capacity to display well on different devices, and hence lower the chance of it being seen and shared.
Don’t wait for users to share your images first: be active and publish them yourself! All of your great pictures should be available on Facebook, Twitter & TwitPic, Instagram, Pinterest, Photobucket, Picassa, Google+, and Flickr. This way, you will make sure everyone who wants to share them is able to do so.
Last, but not least, consider optimizing for Digg submission. In this case, you should preserve the jpg format, and adjust the size to 160×160 or 160×120 pixels. In all other cases, they won’t be presented well.
Optimize the text of the image’s title and alt tag
This will be very easy using the SEO-Friendly Images plugin, which can do two very beneficial things for your images:
- Adding title texts and alt tags – It will do it automatically so that you won’t have to worry about optimizing images yourself.
- Changing the title texts and alt tags you already have – The plugin blends the following variables to make things easier for you:
%title – used to replace the post title
%name – used to replace the name of the image file (without extending it)
%category – used to replace the post’s category
%tags – used to replace the post’s tags
Optimize the names of your image files
It may not sound logical at first, but optimizing the name of an image is just as important as optimizing the image for SEO purposes. There is another plugin in charge of this, and it is called Media File Renamer.
If you prefer to adjust names manually, you are allowed to do it, but there are few things you should keep in mind:
Choose a short name
Choose a name that closely describes what the image represents, and add the keywords.
Remember: The image file’s title should not have any spaces in it. If you need such, replace them with dashes (not underscores). Also, did you know you can edit images directly in WordPress?
Optimize with image load speed in mind
It is no secret that Google prioritizes images that load fast, so you must optimize with speed being your first concern. As huge and cool as you image may be, it won’t help you attract people unless it opens instantly.
Choosing images that are relevant to your content
When using images, you should always pick such that match the post’s story. The reader may avoid it otherwise, and leave the page with a negative impression. At that point, publishing posts with images won’t bring you any benefit.
Select bigger images for a bigger effect, as this universal rule, applies to all readers. Go for the largest and best-quality image out there, but make sure you’ve considered all technical aspects of uploading it to your website. Otherwise, you may end up showing a blurry image that affects the reputation of your site and doesn’t inspire the reader to remain there. Instead, try to make images inspirational enough for him to return and continue exploring your posts.
Stock photos are not your only option
We all know that subscribing to Shutterstock and GettyImages is easy, but posting something users have seen somewhere else has nothing thrilling about it. Explore other options, such as the Pinterest or Flickr photo community, where amazing author images have no protected rights and won’t charge you a penny for using them. An excellent and free alternative is to browse for photos on Google images, but you must take care not to post a protected piece.
The best way to engender credibility and make viewers appreciate your work is to use personal images. If you’re into photography, why not wasting few more minutes to capture a moment relevant to your text? This way, the reader will have first-hand, unique information, and will share your content much more often.
Research trendy topics and keep in line with them
Outdated images won’t really attract attention, so make sure you always have the most recent image of what you’re writing about. Readers certainly appreciate this, in particular when you’re using a high-quality photography you made yourself. A good idea may be to hire an expert photographer and discuss trends with him. If the photo is really good, make sure you’ve shortened text to allow users to enjoy it instead.
When discussing numbers and complex subjects, you can make articles more appealing with infographic pictures that display figures in an appealing manner. This will be far more attractive for users than simply feeding them with boring and uninterrupted summaries. Long story short, make your content more illustrative.
Besides, the choice of infographic tools is almost unlimited: you can opt for illustrations, graphs, flow and pie charts, and so on. With the appropriate program in hands, it won’t take long to summarize your data with minimal manual input.
Overall, choose images that correspond well to the message you’re trying to convey. All of them should reveal a connection to your website’s final mission, or be the accent elements that add charm and confidence.
When promoting content, rely on Instagram’s snapshots to make it widely available and interesting.
Despite the fact that search engines don’t pay that much attention to captions, that shouldn’t discourage you from using them. There are many eye-tracking studies that have confirmed how often users read these short writings below or above images, and that they prefer them to the standard body copy where the image is described. That’s why we believe that all important things related to the image should be placed in captions.
Finally, let’s discuss images from an e-commerce point of view. In this case, the main goal is not traffic as such, but the percentage of leads that convert into buyers. Even in this case, images matter the world to success – for buyers, it is extremely important to see what they are buying, which is why imaged retail sites sell better than others even when a detailed description of products is not available.