We’ve emphasized the importance of high-quality blog content time and time again. And when you picture a blog, you likely think about the text on the page. We will never discount the importance of compelling, informative writing, but if your blog contains only text, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice. Blog posts with images aren’t just more attractive and colorful. They also benefit your SEO, increase the likelihood that readers will share your blog post, and may convince someone to continue reading the content because images break up the text and make it easier to read. Plus, due to the picture superiority effect, images also increase the probability that readers will remember your blog. But before you scatter images all over your blog to reap these benefits, review the best practices for blog post images below. After all, if you’re going to do something, do it well.
Best Practices for Blog Post Images
Include at Least One Photo in Every Post
Every blog post should include at least one image. Not only will this benefit your SEO, but it will make your blog more visually interesting and reader-friendly. Some blog posts will benefit from a profusion of images (for example, you may need a dozen images to supplement step-by-step instructions), but most only need a few – and one at the very least.
Use Quality Images
Choose a high-quality image that is relevant to your content, crisp, and clear. If the photo is blurry or pixelated, it’s not worth including.
When possible, use your own images. You could also create an infographic, make a drawing or graphic, or take a screenshot (if applicable – such as when creating a how-to post). Many bloggers don’t have the time or talent to take all of their own pictures, which is when stock images come in handy. When using a stock image, review your options carefully. And if you’re discussing your own team or products, don’t use stock photos of random people or arbitrary items.
Keep It Legal
You can’t use whatever images you find online on your blog. This is illegal and could lead to a pricey lawsuit. So every time you use an image, check that you can use it legally for commercial purposes.
Choose the Right File Type
The three most common image file types for blogs are JPG, PNG, and GIF:
- JPGs are the most popular choice. Why? They’re widely supported, use small file sizes, and work well for photos. However, the quality is sometimes a bit worse than a PNG, and JPGs don’t support transparent backgrounds.
- PNGs provide high resolution, but because of this, they tend to require larger file sizes. They support transparent backgrounds and work well for graphics and complex images, especially those that include text.
- GIFs lack the quality and color range of JPGs and PNGs. However, they do support small file sizes and transparent backgrounds.
To put it simply, JPEGs should be your go-to choice. But if you want background transparency or your graphic includes text, use a PNG. GIFs are okay from time to time, but they shouldn’t be your preferred file type.
Determine the Ideal Size
If your image is massive, it will overtake the blog post and overpower the words. Plus, the page will take longer to load. If your image is tiny, readers won’t be able to see it properly without zooming in or leaning close to the screen. Try to hit a happy medium where the image is large enough to retain its quality but small enough that it complements the overall design of the blog post. A good rule of thumb is that your images should not be wider than the body text. In WordPress, images larger than the body text are actually automatically shrunk to fit that standard.
Are your images taking ages to load? Try shrinking the file sizes. Not only is a quick page load speed good for SEO but it also prevents your readers from clicking away out of frustration.
Use Informative File Names
Most file names are very boring and don’t relate to the image at all. For example, “IMG_456.jpg” or “StockPhoto989817284.jog.” “So what?” you might think. “Readers almost never see file names.” And that’s true. But search engine bots do. And when you write descriptive file names in plain language, it’s easier for search engines to find and understand your images. Keep the file name short, however, and put the most important word at the start. For example, “dachshund-lying-on-photos.jpg.”
Write Descriptive Alt Text
Every image you include should have descriptive alternative text, also known as alt text. This brief label accomplishes several things:
- If an image isn’t rendering properly, the alt text is shown so that users understand what was intended to be there.
- Screen readers use alt text to help visually impaired users navigate websites.
- Alt text describes images for Google and other search engines, which use it to crawl the web for images.
- In some browsers, the alt text appears when the user hovers over an image with their mouse.
When writing alt text, describe the image plainly and briefly. Include any important information (such as model/serial numbers if the image is a product), and don’t stuff the alt text with keywords. Just imagine someone has asked you, “What is it a picture of?”
Don’t Rely on an Image Hosting Service
You might be tempted to reply on an image hosting service, like Imgur or Postimage. These sites allow you to upload your images onto their servers, which will save you space on your server and lessen the bandwidth your site consumes. However, relying on an image hosting service is a risk. When the service is flooded with traffic, your images may become deleted or blocked. So always use your own server, and host the images yourself.
Embrace Social Media
Finally, if you’re investing in high-quality images, make good use of them by sharing your blog posts on your social media profiles. When viewers see your eye-catching images in their feed, they might be tempted to stop and check out your blog.
In addition, make it easy for your blog’s readers to share your blog posts by adding social media sharing buttons to your images. For example, you could add the popular “Pin It” button to your images to make it easier for readers to post the image (which will link back to your blog) on Pinterest.
Now that you’ve reviewed the best practices for blog post images, are you ready to put your newfound knowledge to the test? Every time you write a blog post, search for a fitting, eye-catching image and put these procedures into action. Luckily, the best practices for blog post images don’t require a lot of time or skill, just a little effort on your part.
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