How to choose the right images for your social posts and blogs
They claim that a picture says a thousand words…even if you’ve written a thousand words and you’re about to post these online, it’s recommended that you still include a picture in your post. Mainly because search engines prioritise content that contains imagery in their search results. The higher up your article appears in these results, the more likely it will be found and read.
An image can instantly convey what your article/post is about. In our time-starved world, people don’t want to wade through paragraph after paragraph if they’re not likely to be interested in what they say. An image can indicate this immediately and give the reader the choice of whether they want to move on or stay and absorb the information.
But how do you choose the most appropriate image for your post?
Where to look
Firstly, consider where you’re going to look for your image, as you may be limited in your choice if you’re searching amongst royalty-free photos, as they’re far fewer in number than the ones you pay for. If you only put out a blog a month, it may be worth paying for a good image via such as Shutterstock, who have one of the largest collections of images online. If you create articles more often that this, your budget may not stretch to paid-for imagery within each post you produce.
Sites such as Pixabay, Foter and Unsplash feature royalty-free imagery.
Don’t opt for an image that’s only remotely related to your content just because it’s free, as it may do your carefully crafted content more harm than good. If your blog is quite niche in nature, a well-chosen paid-for image may help search engines to better categorise your article. And, if it’s categorised well, more people will find it, which is, ultimately, your aim. Who wants to spend time writing great content if no one’s going to read it?
Ensure that the image you choose is not defamatory or inflammatory in any way. Think about what you want your reader to feel when they read what you’ve written. If you want them to get up and do something, an image that shows motion or is active may subconsciously urge them to move. If you simply want them to digest and slowly consider your words, a more passive, visually-pleasing image would suit.
There’s nothing wrong with using your own images—just ensure they’re of a high-enough quality before posting. They may also need resizing, so that they don’t slow down the loading of your article, should someone click on it from a link. Consider the background when taking your own photos, as well as the lighting. Well-lit photos are a must (unless you’re writing about a ghost-hunting adventure or similar, for example, where dark, moody images would not be out of place).
If using a royalty-free image, check whether you’re required to add a credit or link to the image creator’s site in your post. Even if it’s not a requirement, it’s good manners to do so. Don’t be tempted to simply save/copy a picture from a Google image search—you could be liable for a hefty fine if you use a stock image without permission or the correct licence.
If your content needs a very specific image that you can’t find anywhere – even in paid-for libraries—you may have to make your own. What if your article needed the image of a three-headed dragon with a horse’s tail? Do you go without, because it’s unlikely you’ll find an existing image with just the right kind of fire-breathing beast within it? Though you could take a photo of most things with your iPhone, not many of us have a three-headed dragon at home. If this is the case, consider drawing the image you want.
If you’re not good with a pencil or artists’ apps, you could commission an illustrator to draw it for you. Whilst this may seem a luxury/extra expense, if it helps your article find its way to its perfect reader and boosts your notoriety in doing so, it’s surely worth the money.
Other types of visuals
Perhaps your content includes statistics or comparisons. If so, an image may not be as suitable as an infographic or chart that quickly displays information/results at a glance.
Adding appropriate information in your article’s alt text and image description could help its SEO and where it comes in search engine results. It also helps people with visual impairments, etc. to quickly understand what your content is about.
On certain social platforms—Instagram, for example—imagery is required, not just suggested. There are many brands that have curated a large, loyal following with the imagery they use alongside their posts. Studies show that content across all social media platforms benefit from a good image. Posts with pictures stand out against those that don’t, and an evocative image could stop people in their tracks as they scroll through their newsfeeds.
So, there you go, a short guide on the importance of imagery within your content. I’m now off to feed Bob, my three-headed dragon with a horse’s tail…
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