“Content is King” has long been a rallying cry for SEO professionals and content marketers, and as Google chips away at many traditional SEO techniques that rallying cry has never rung more true.
With the introduction of Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird content is now doing a lot of the heavy lifting where online performance is concerned. Finding new ways to improve and augment a website’s content is more important than ever.
After all, it’s your website’s content that will hopefully grab the visitor’s attention, and interest them enough to spread your message via social media shares and likes.
One simple way to boost the impact of your online content is to include images with your text. But like anything designed to boost a website’s online performance, there is more to the proper use of images than simply snapping a few photographs.
1. Image Size and Placement
Optimally, you want your images to enhance your content and to form a sort of road map for your reader’s eye to follow. Properly placed, images can capture your reader’s attention, and direct it on a defined path throughout the body of your text.
Generally, images should be aligned to either the right side, or left side, of your web page. This adheres to the tradition of reading left to right, and serves to direct the readers eye to the most relevant portions of your text.
Images that fill the entire width of a web page should be reserved for headers, banners, or final salutations. Large images only serve to interrupt the flow of your content, and break the reader’s natural momentum.
2. Including Captions…and Attribution
Many webmasters make the mistake of assuming that the images they place within their copy will be self explanatory. To get the most out of any image, add a relevant caption to the bottom of the picture.
This will slow the reader down, reinforce your overall topic, and can be used to highlight individual points within your post. Because the human eye is naturally drawn to striking images, maximize their value by including a caption of two to three sentences that conveys the most important bit of information that you want your readers to take away from your article.
The image caption also provides an area to add clear attribution. If you found the image on Flickr, mention it in the caption. For stock photography, you want to get in the habit of doing the same from sites such as Shutterstock…or one of my new favorites, Pexels for their growing selection.
Captions also make it easier for Google and other search engines to categorize your images, making them more likely to show up in a user instigated image search. And attribution, well, Google loves it and not providing could very well be an algorithmic penalty in the future.
3. Where Do I Find Images?
While including images with your content can definitely help you to engage with readers and spread your message, it can be challenging to find the right one.
The best images are the ones you create yourself, but sometimes it’s easier to find one on a stock images site, as mentioned above. I’m guilty of using stock more than any other method. But, if you’re comfortable using Photoshop, using screen shots can go a long way.
Another method I like is to go to Google image search and type this query to search on Flickr.com only:
site:flickr.com "some topic"
Many images on Flickr give you an easy embed code, or you can “save as” to your desktop to upload directly to your blog. Again, make sure to attribute properly and pay attention to specific licensing.
Infographics have become a hot trend amongst content marketers, and they do add value to a blog post. However, like any image they must be clear, concise, and relevant to the topic at hand.
Like any trend, infographics are being somewhat abused, and it is not unusual to come across a post that consists of little more than a title and a graph. Readers like images, but they aren’t children. If you include an infographic, make sure it is relevant to your topic and that its value and information is fully explained through your text. Infographics are not substitutes for quality copy writing.
5. Memes are Fun!
Memes on the other have the ability to spark emotion, usually laughter, and almost any emotion will help make your post memorable and worth sharing.
However, adding and using memes will depend on your audience.
It’s should be obvious, but memes will not go over well with a serious audience or topic. Also, if your post is written to drive sales, I’m not sure I would use this tactic either.
What’s nice is that memes can be generated in seconds with sites such as Meme Generator. Give it a try, it’s fun and memes have a larger potential to go viral than stock images.
6. Optimize Your Images
This is perhaps the most important aspect of handling images for online content. Images can help to grab the reader’s attention and spread your message, but they must also be optimized to perform well in a given online search. Be sure to include valuable keywords in the file name so that search engines can evaluate and index the image’s content.
Create descriptive alt text tags for all of your online images, again so that the search engine ‘bots will be able to understand and evaluate their content. If you are linking to the image, make sure your anchor text describes the content using the specific keywords you want your post and photo to rank for.
Images are an important tool for improving a website’s online content and user experience. However, like any tool the effectiveness of any image will be determined by how well it is used.
These few tips should act as a basic intro in the use of images to boost the performance of your blog posts and other online content. You’ll soon find that if you have deployed your images with skill, that visitors will spend more time on your website and will be more likely to spread your message throughout their own social networks.