The main purpose of using images in your blog is to increase its appeal and boost the number of times it is viewed. Research on the Skyword content marketing platform suggests an average increase in blog views of 94% when a post includes images. Furthermore, the research also indicates that some types of content, such as news or political stories, will receive an even greater boost in the number of views if they use an image.
There are a variety of reasons to add images to your blog post. You might want to add a bit of decoration to your post. Images also help break up large chunks of text and increase white space, making the post easier to read. Adding a thematic image early in your post will attract attention and can set the tone for the content.
Images also help to make a point or emphasize a statement in your post. This is especially important if you are writing an instructional blog. Studies indicate that images help to decrease confusion and increase satisfaction and confidence in the reader’s understanding of instructional material. Screenshots and clearly labeled photographs are a simple way to increase comprehension in industries like tech or hardware.
Images can also benefit your site’s search engine optimization or SEO through the use of ALT tags and titles.
While there are many benefits to adding images on your blog, too many images can have the opposite effect. In the Prime Focus Lab blog, Nigel Merrick gives a compelling argument for limiting the number of photos in a photography blog to five. This is based on the idea that after five photos, readers stop counting and place any blog with more in a ‘lots of photos’ category and begin to disengage from the content.
A quick look at research performed by blogpros suggests an average of 3.2 images per blog and approximately 1 image per 350 words. But, when you look more closely at the data, the range varies from 0 images in a 2600 word blog to 44 images in a 4400-word blog. This suggests that there is no magic number of images per word. The research does indicate that only 16% of those blogs had no images at all, backing the idea that some images are better than none.
One of the main points about using images is to break up your content, but there are some other ways this can be done:
Pull quotes allow you to add annotations that are relative to your post in a graphical way. This helps to break up large chunks of text in the same way as inserting an image
GIFs are short animations you can insert into your post. Bear in mind that animations can be distracting to the reader, so how and where you place a GIF is important to minimise this effect
Embedding content from other sites can also serve the purpose of breaking up your content. However, embedded items such as video, podcasts, and Twitter feeds will draw attention away from your content for extended periods, so take care in what you choose to add.
How you place an image in your post is relative to what you want it to achieve, e.g. decoration, highlighting a point, instruction, etc. When you add an image, there are two main ways to display it: inline or in a block. Each method has a different effect.
Inline images allow your text content to flow around the image, usually to the left or right side of the image. This allows the reader to continue reading uninterrupted if they want. It is more suitable for decorative images and when you want your readers’ attention to remain focused on the written content. Inline images allow the reader to continue reading without breaking away whilst still achieving their purpose.
A common image placement method is to place an image inline with the right or left side of the first paragraph in your post. This draws the attention of your reader to the start of your content in a similar way to using a dropped caps initial.
It also reduces the line width of your opening paragraph, which helps people to engage with your content. By engaging a reader at the start of your blog, they are more likely to continue reading.
Block images will place the image on a line of its own, usually between two paragraphs. By placing an image in a block, your written content is interrupted, forcing the readers’ attention to the image. The block method is preferable when you want your reader to inspect the image, for example; if you have referred to it in your text or when it is part of an instruction.
When you are using a large number of images, especially if each is accompanied by a small amount of text, consider placing them in a slideshow. This will help to negate any issues of image overload, where a reader will simply skim past the images and scroll to the next large paragraph. Also, a slideshow is particularly useful when you need to add a large amount of instructional images. You can clearly label or number each slide or step and your readers will pause to fully absorb the instruction before moving on.
Finally, when placing images in your blog post, consider how any advertising is placed. Advertising usually comes with a call to action to take the reader away from your post, so it is may be better to advertise at the end of the post, or in the spaces to the side.
When you add images to your blog, remember to add SEO metadata. A search engine cannot look at an image and intelligently determine what it represents in the same way that it can interpret your written content. Adding alt text helps your site get more traffic.
Here are a few rules of thumb to follow for image optimization:
By law, every image and photo on the web is protected by copyright. The original poster of the image have to add a copyright mark to protect their work. There are plenty of stories of bloggers and brands being caught using a copyrighted image and facing a large fine, regardless of their ignorance of copyright law.
In the US, the penalties for copyright infringement can range from $200 to $150,000 and potentially include a jail sentence, so it is vitally to ensure you have permission to use any images you post on your site.
In addition to being legally required, not stealing someone else’s work is simply the right thing to do.
People who post images and photos online are able to apply creative commons licenses to their work. There are several different licenses and and each defines how you can use the associated image:
Some images do fall under public domain laws and are free from copyright restrictions. However, it can be difficult to judge how those restrictions may apply to you. Public domain laws differ from country to country, so it can be easy to incorrectly use this type of copyright-free image.
There is an additional creative commons license which some image creators can use to get around this, the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This effectively releases the image from copyright restrictions and is applicable worldwide. This type of license doesn’t require any attribution, although it is still good practice to apply it.
Google image search provides a tool which allows you to filter the search results by usage rights:
The most important factors to consider when searching for images under the creative commons licensing are:
When using an image under a creative commons license arrangement, you must always credit the creator of the original image. There are several ways you can do this:
When attributing images that are licensed under a creative commons license, you must always include the following details:
These are requirements of the creative commons license. There is also a useful best practice guide for attribution on the creative commons website. Where possible, it is good practice to add links in your attribution. If the creator has a website, add a hyperlink to their name. Hyperlink the source and you can even link the license information to the appropriate page on the creative commons website.
While a Google search makes it possible to search for free to use images, there are a large number of websites specifically designed for supplying images that are either free or can be purchased. Here are a few examples:
Some images may require a little modification to make them more interesting. Some simple enhancements to an image can increase its effectiveness on your blog post. In order to do this, you will need to use an image editing tool.
Most Windows desktops come with MS Paint by default, but this image editor is pretty limited. Luckily, there are plenty of other tools to use. Here are a few suggestions:
Most image editors will provide a wide range of features to enhance an image. Here are a few common editing features you can use to spruce up an image:
If you decide to use your own images or photos, consider how you edit, place, and add SEO details as discussed above. You might also consider adding a watermark to your image.
A watermark is a simple translucent mark placed over the image to indicate that it is owned by you and this can include adding copyright information. Most image editing tools will allow you to add a watermark, but there are also some web resources that are specifically designed for this purpose:
Keep in mind that using a watermark will change the appearance of the image, and another person could still take the image, crop it to hide the watermark and use it as their own.
Whether your image is watermarked or not, linking it to a license will give you control over how other web users can use it. The simplest way to do this is to use a creative commons license, as discussed above. All you need to do is tell people which license applies. There is a useful tool on the Creative Commons website that helps you to choose the license you want to apply, add metadata to the image and generate the css code for an icon to place on your web page.
Before deciding which type of license you want to apply to an image, consider how you would allow any other person on the internet to use and edit them. By putting your images online, you are opening them up to the possibility of misuse by other people, groups and organisations, including extremist organizations.
In practice, you are responsible for monitoring the use of your images. If you want to track where your image appears online, there are a few applications that can help:
If you do find any misuse, the best way to deal with it is to contact the site first and ask them to remove the image. If you get no response, or the site owner refuses to remove your image, you can find the host for the site and report the problem to the host. Beyond that, you may have to resort to legal action.
If you have already been using images without consent, be prepared to remove them from your blog posts and refrain from using any more.Take the time to think about how and why you are using images in your posts, and then try to estimate the quantities of images that you will need in the future.
This will help you to decide the best way to source the images you need and consider whether you should consider paying for a subscription to a stock photo site.