Adding more pictures to your blog posts is a great way to improve reader engagement. Pictures hold attention and make a web page come alive. When you need to write persuasive copy, images can help you drive home the point as needed.
1. Know your choices.
Stock photo and clipart sites are easy to find. There are free sites like stock.xchng at sxc.hu if you don’t want to spend money on getting pictures, but then you’d end up using the same images as many other sites. If you want better-quality pictures and fewer people using them, you’ll need to invest in premium stock photo like at iStockPhoto.com. Look for bulk purchase options to save money on multiple images.
2. Make sure you have the rights or permission to use the pictures.
You can find millions of pictures on the Web using an image search tool like Google Image Search. But not everything is free for the taking! Some pictures are public domain — that means you can do what you want with them, nobody owns them — but many are copyrighted. You’d need to ask permission from the owner to reuse the image. Even when the copyright holder grants such permission to you, it may come with conditions such as proper attribution or non-commercial use only.
3. Choose the right image for your purpose.
Don’t use the first picture that matches your keyword. Think of the blog post where you will use it. What kind of feeling do you want it to evoke in your readers? Is the article meant to be funny, informative, shocking, alarming, or amusing? Positive or negative? Select the best picture that suits the purpose of the article. (Hint: Stock photos look more professional than clipart– but use the latter if it is appropriate.)
4. Give proper attribution when required.
As said above, pictures may come with conditions for reuse. Familiarize yourself with the license agreement for each image you use. This can be a pain if you rely on various sources, but you don’t want to risk getting into trouble by not complying with an agreement. If you need to give attribution, add it on the same page where you’ll use the image, if possible. One way is to add the creator’s name in the “alt text” of the image. Another is in the caption.
5. Keep the images small but clear.
Small file size means faster load time for your web pages. Don’t send away your visitors with unnecessarily large pictures. Use an image editor to compress and resize them. If the pictures aren’t instructional (like software screenshots), keep their dimensions small too.
6. Keep images away from your ads.
Never place ads close to your pictures. This can confuse your readers. Worse still, your advertising partners may think you’re doing it on purpose. Google AdSense has a strict policy against such manipulation. So don’t risk it. Keep your images well away from your ad units.
7. Use alt text and captions.
The alternative text in images help with SEO and in case a visitor has chosen not to display images automatically. Captions help illustrate your article further. When you want to highlight a point in your article, use the caption area. People are more likely to look at pictures and read their captions first before they read the whole article (if they do at all).
Some free stock photo and clipart sites: