Images are important to include in your blog posts, for a few reasons. They are great for helping to break up your content as well as help "tell the story" that you are trying to convey. Good pictures also help with social engagement and shares. A couple of things that bloggers neglect to do is optimize them for SEO and speed. With this short post we will cover why you should be using images if you aren't, as well as optimizing them for SEO.
Using Images For The Reader
Everyone knows the old saying - "a picture is worth a thousand words". Images are easier to process and visitors to your site will be drawn to them. Articles with great images are also more likely to get shared more across social media platforms. When is the last time you went to a blog posts that was long or all text and just read it?
Images help break up your content and should be visually appealing. It is important however to remember to use the right image to help tell your story or convey your message. Your image should be relevant to the article and should be somehow related.
Posting a picture of some beautiful woods scene when your article is about exercising doesn't relate. A picture of someone actually exercising or wiping sweat from the forehead after exercising would be a much better choice.
Why do we love images so much?
We are very visual creatures. A large percentage of the human brain dedicates itself to visual processing. Our love of images lies with our cognition and ability to pay attention. Images are able to grab our attention easily, we are immediately drawn to them. Think about this blog, for example: did you look at the words first, or the image?
We process images at an alarming speed. When we see a picture, we analyse it within a very short snippet of time, knowing the meaning and scenario within it immediately. The human brain is able to recognise a familiar object within 100 milliseconds. People tend to recognise familiar faces within 380 milliseconds, which is pretty speedy. Read The Full Article "The power of pictures. How we can use images to promote and communicate science" Here.
Great article from James. Later in the article we really like where he talks about how images help with learning. He talks about how infographics really help with this. Yes, inforgraphics are considered images :) and are great for helping people skim your content. Read the full article to learn more about why you should be using images in your posts.
Images And SEO
So we covered why you should be using pictures. So how can they help with SEO?
The first thing is naming your images. We actually like naming our images BEFORE we upload them to our website to make it easier. Using one of your keywords that you are trying to target is good to use as part of the image name. Just don't over do it by keyword stuffing.
Rizvan Ullah, someone we have quoted before, wrote an article on Johnchow.com that explains optimizing your photos or images very well:
Now that the images have been uploaded, it’s important they are named correctly before adding them to your content. It’s important to be strategic when naming them because Google does have an “image search” option, which can generate enormous traffic to your website. Through “image search”, in Google, users can visit the page of the hosting website, which will lead them directly to your content. Here are the things you should do when naming your images…
First, makes sure you rename them using your “targeted” keywords. Next, make use of the meta-data fields that easily allow you to optimize your images. For example,
- Alt tag – The text within the “ALT” field will be displayed to users if your image cannot be loaded or if it’s taking too long to load.
- Title tag – Here is where you can add additional text to display to your users when they hover over. Great place to add keywords and relevant information about the image perfect for search engines.
Great article from Rizvan, with another great point that he makes earlier in the article, and the it's important to compress your images as well.
Images Without Compression Can Hurt Your SEO
Image compression is a BIG part of the SEO equation as well. Why? If your images aren't compressed they will make your website load slower. A slow loading site is not only a turn off for visitors, but the search engines as well. Site load speed is a ranking factor.
Compressing your images is fairly easy if you are using a WordPress site as there are a multitude of plugins that will compress the images. Earlier on in Rizvan's article he lists 3 plugins and one of them is one that we use, EWWW Image Optimizer. If you don't like any of his recommendations, there are a LOT more :)
Summing It All Up
If you aren't using images in your posts - start. Our brains are wired for images. Make them relevant to your topic and also use infographics where possible. Images also help get your content shared more on social media. And by taking the time to find some great images you can help boost your website search engine ranking as well!