Images can become an integral part of your website. If used correctly, they can provide tons of SEO benefits as well as an improvement in the overall visitor experience. But going the general route of buying them is often very expensive, copying them of other pages and search engines is illegal and let’s face it, most of us aren’t exactly master artists when it comes to making them.
However, with the last option of creating them, I have found that you do not need to be an impressive artist to do it. In fact, I’ve gotten away (and this is actually good despite sounding bad) with making what most would consider “unprofessional” images and yet they do a great job of explaining my main points and getting good feedback.
I do this for free, it’s saved me a ton of money and I will show you exactly how you use the same strategy I do in this article. However, in doing so, I have to tell you that the use of images can be a double edged sword depending on the type of page you have and I will explain how I personally, from many years of marketing have strategically planned my image usage.
Why are images so important to have? 5 quick reasons:
1) They can really help make your content shine better. Sometimes you can write an entire novel trying to prove a point, but add 1 good image trying to explain it and you’ll have an easier time getting people to comprehend it.
2) Provided they’re relevant enough, they improve the time people stay on your page.
And this can hold so many values in of itself:
Better SEO (which I’ll explain), more trust, more chances of people bookmarking your page and buying from you, ect…
3) Pictures have universally helped people understand things better.
Call it a branch of point 1 if you want, but if I read a blog post and it has no photos on it, I am often forced to imagine things on my own, which isn’t bad and some people may prefer it, but if the writing isn’t that good, having no “help” to help me personally imagine something isn’t good.
Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there that write amazing stuff and need not have any pictures to make their points and capture the attention of people, but most of us writers, and I put myself in that category can’t always do this so having an additional illustration in the form of something visual can really keep a person on your page longer.
4) They can make poor content look better.
Another branch of point 1, but just as important to cover…
If you don’t write too well, then perhaps adding an extra visual can absolutely help. Imagine someone reading through paragraph after paragraph and perhaps their attention is slowly getting lost, but as they scroll down, they see an picture is coming up and the odds that they’ll keep scrolling and reading your content because they saw that this was coming up may keep them longer on your page, where on the other hand, had it not been there, they may have left a long time ago.
5) Do images help with SEO? Yes, if you use it right.
Well every point above is an extension of positive SEO. If an image can help a person stay on your site longer, than improves the value of your page with Google.
Also images you use can be added in the “images” section of Google and other search engines so it’s an extra way that you can be found.
Attaching keywords to your pictures can also help the above point happen better and can also help your actual blog posts rank higher as well.
Should I use paid or free ones? I mainly use the latter and here’s how:
Unless you stumble upon a great site that sells pictures for a cheap price, generally buying them on sale periods is expensive and I know a lot of people can’t afford this.
My whole take on this is to use paid ones in times when you personally cannot create one to illustrate your point, but if you’re tight on money, keep this to a scare usage. Here’s more rules on using pictures so you stay safe and in legal confines.
I have found over and over again, that free pictures I make do more than enough to help me with the 5 points I eluded to above.
Here’s what I typically do:
I use Microsoft Paint and make some generally dull pictures. They are absolutely simple to do and even in the “worst cases”, it takes me no longer than a few minutes to set on up.
Want to see some examples? Here you go:
What did this trigger in your mind?
If you said something like:
Well it’s someone thinking of something or…
Someone has an idea.
Then guess what? My picture did it’s job in making my point come across because that’s EXACTLY what I wanted it to do. Now could I have gone to a paid site and purchased one of a man or woman thinking of something?
Sure, but it would have cost me a lot. Here, I got the same point across, and for free. As far as I see it, the job is done.
How about this:
What did you think when you saw this one?
If you said, it’s a dialogue happening between 2 people, then yet again, I made my point, and I made it for free.
Now let’s add just 1 little detail to each one and let’s see how that affects your interpretation of it:
1: What happens now? It’s the same picture, but now you know exactly what the person is thinking about.
2: What about here? Now you know what these 2 people are talking about.
All I did was added a few words to enhance your interpretation (note the green color of the word trees also enhances it) of the image and again, this took me seconds, and at the same time, it’s effect has been much more improved upon. Small edit, big changes.
And these examples are SO easy to make and in the following cases, took me less than a minute to do.
Now if you have an Apple or Mac, you’d just have to either use the default program on it that helps you make your own pictures (in Windows, it’s Microsoft Paint). If you’ve never used these types of programs before.
Tip 2: Screenshots/photos are absolutely awesome for saving time.
In addition they are also free. Just use your phone’s camera, take it, save it, then open up the picture on your computer and add a caption or edit it as you see fit. Another free and awesome option. I happen to also use Microsoft Paint to do this stuff.
This helps you create more professional looking photos without having to buy anything.
The double edged sword when it comes to the usage of images…
While these options are certainly going to help you out a lot, I have to warn you that sometimes people can incorrectly use them, kind of like chefs can over spice, over salt or add too much or too little sugar to their dishes.
Websites which generally have more of a focus on written content, kind of like this blog should focus more on the writing part and little content. If I put this into a ratio, no more than 80/20 (80% content/20% images).
Have a look at this. I won’t say it’s a perfect article, but I will say it works well to help people understand my points as with each point I make, I add a new image to describe it.
Now I were to write that article, stuff all those pictures together or go beyond the recommended amount such as say 50/50, it would probably become hard for someone to read my stuff as their attention would be divided between what they see and what they read.
So I guess that’s the main point I want to make:
Ensure that your image use is organized such that it keeps the reading continuing to read your blog and not getting stuck or interrupted in their reading.
Now comes the alternative example…
Now you would think that advice alone is universal, but it isn’t, hence the double edged sword. There will come a time when flipping that rule will become necessary. For example:
Visual blogs and websites should focus on having more than 20% of images on their pages and that’s because…they are more visual based. Here’s some examples:
Pages which have photos of nature, or other scenic areas. Those ones are geared to people who more so want to see what it looks like vs describing it.
So in that case, I’d say 60% on the written part and 40% on the visual part would be good, maybe even 50/50 would also help here.
My final thoughts:
I recommend you look through my site more closely and spot where I’ve put up photos that I made vs where I used screenshots vs where I used ones that I bought. You will see a HUGE focus on the ones I’ve made.
Generally, on this niche site, for a majority of cases, I make my own pictures.
Now when I do product reviews, I use screenshots very often because in my experience, those do the best job of describing the product.
So if I buy something, I’ll take pictures of it and make my points in accordance with it. Here is an example.
The main points I want to re-summarize are this:
- Don’t worry too much about finding images, if you can make them on your own, do it.
- If you can’t, use screenshots, they rock. Believe me.
- Ensure that the topic of your website/blog correlates correctly to the way you use pictures on it to ensure you get maximum attention from readers.
- Also understand that words can be decorated as photos too. Here’s an example (and more on that):
One last and important benefit:
Image size generally plays an important roll in how quickly it loads on your site and that can have a tremendous impact on both SEO and the stay times of visitors. The longer it loads = the worse off your SEO can be and vice versa.
So generally the examples I offered to you on how I do this, help you create pictures that load quickly (because they aren’t really that big to begin with and there’s simple graphics involved). Now the size is important to edit too and I generally do not like to make an image more than 800 X 800 because on my page it’ll go past the length my sentences reach before the next line begins.
Note: Your page might have different dimension sizes, but play around with yours and see how it looks, you can always go back and edit the size.
The smaller your picture, the better/faster it’ll load, but again, there’s another double edged sword there. Ensure that whatever one you’re using be used in small proportions, but at the same time, if it’s for example an incredible detailed one, that when you make it smaller, you don’t destroy important details about it. The good news is that sites like WordPress can help you minimize the size of these things and see a preview of it so you can feel confident in publishing it.
All this stuff is really an extension of the experience I’ve gathered in marketing.
If you have a page you’re personally trying these strategies on, if there’s anything you’re confused about or need me to advise you on, let me know!