The two most important factors that get your content noticed and read are your headline and your graphics. Your article headline gives the reader the information they need to quickly decide if they’re going to consume your content or not. If the headline has no interest to them, or doesn’t grab them, they’ll move on.
Your article graphic (especially the main graphic) is the “thumb-stopping” factor that will get your content read when people are on their social media accounts. If you have an image that makes them stop scrolling, they’ll look at your headline next. Without the graphic and a great headline, you’ll get passed by.
Don’t Just Stick Any Image to the Page
Images have a greater function than just stopping thumbs, and most people miss an opportunity to really make them perform for them.
It’s easy to go to Bigstock Photos and grab an image that relates to the content in your blog post or article. A big mistake that I see is that people download it, then just suck it up to their website as-is without doing anything further or giving it any more thought. You as a website owner owe it to yourself to fix your images so they do your website justice. These changes are quick, and it should just become a habit.
By the way, I never advocate going to Google images and scraping someone else’s image for your use. Pay a few bucks for the Bigstock Photo account (or whatever stock image platform you like), and just call it a cost of doing business. If you do grab someone’s unique infographic or something else, always give the author credit with a link back as I did in this article.
So what can you do to optimize the images to work best on your website or blog?
Modify the Image to Make It Yours
You can pretty easily tell what an off-the-shelf stock image is. You can spot them a mile away. They’re snappy business people pointing at a fake glass drawing board, or they’re properly ethnically diverse, politically correct boring images.
Instead, pick images that grab your attention and tell a story. Then modify them to illustrate your point even further.
Canva is a pretty neat tool (that’s free!) where you can upload your stock image, make some simple modifications without being a graphic artist, and make it look better. If I just need something quick, that’s my go-to place, and they have templates to create images to fit the different social media platforms.
If you have a copy of Photoshop or other graphic editing software, you can pretty easily and quickly make a modification to the image to really tell a story. Here’s an excellent article from my friend Chuck, “How to Pick Killer Images for Your Blog“.
Take a few minutes to make your images the eye candy that get people to stop to read your article or blog. It’s worth it.
Always Fix the Image Size to Fit
I was just looking at a friend’s website yesterday, and he was getting complaints that the site was very slow to load. His home page was a whopping 17MB because the images that had been uploaded were all HUGE and saved at 300 dpi (dots per inch). Think of someone on a cell phone hitting your website, and it has to suck all that graphic load down to their phone before it will display. Ugh.
There’s no reason to have a 300 dpi image load like that in the content. Link to the high-res version if someone wants to see it, but the one that loads on the web page should be small and light.
Using Photoshop or Picresize (free tool!), resize the images to 72 dpi and make the pixel dimension appropriate for whatever it’s being used for. If it’s a blog header image, it doesn’t need to be 2500 px wide. Set it 650 px and a proportional height, and the images will be small and light.
As an example, one of the images on my friend’s site was a whopping 4MB. After resizing it properly, it was svelte 158KB. Huge difference.
Furthermore, one of Google’s SEO factors is site load speed. If your website is taking a long time to load, you’re going to get dinged. Test your website with the Pingdom Tool, and you can see exactly which images (or other files) are taking a long time to load. There are lossless compression tools that will super-compress your image files without losing resolution or image quality. If you use WordPress, one tool you could use is Smush It. I haven’t used it myself, but they claim they’ll super-compress your files, and a Pro version that has extra goodies.
SEO the Image
This is an easy step that most people overlook, and it can actually help your SEO efforts.
First, rename the file. You’re editing it, so save it with a keyword name. Nothing bugs me more than seeing images on a website named “bigstock-Cheerful-businesswoman-pointing-86634719.jpg”. Give it a real keyword filename that ties in with your article in some way. As an example, go to Google images and search for best video marketing platform. You should see this image at the top from this article, and it’s appropriately named “best-video-marketing-platform.jpg”.
When you insert the image into your content, make sure it has a good keyword-rich alt tag, which will also help the search engines a little.
Finally, you can use Photoshop to edit the graphic file meta data and give it a good SEO title, description, and keywords. Yes, you can actually put SEO information into the image itself, and most people don’t even know you can do this. If you’ve modified the image like I did with the main image for this article, make sure you put your copyright into it too.
In short, pay attention to the details. If you have a web person working on your website, make sure he or she knows you want all three of these things taken care of:
- Modify the image to tell a story
- Size the image appropriately
- SEO the image
These are simple things you can do that will really help make your website or blog something that grabs people attention and pop, not just make them yawn.