How Your Blog Images Are Hurting You
By Colin Ryan
These days, it’s crucial that you include images in your blog posts to support your content. A great photo, graphic, or chart can capture readers’ attention, build brand awareness, and help you tell your story. Nevertheless, using images incorrectly can do just as much to hurt your readership. Here are a few of the mistakes you might be making.
Your images are too small/too large.
For an image to actually support your content, people have to be able to see it. Include an image that’s too small, and you may as well not have included it at all. On the other hand, overlarge images not only distract from your written content—they can also slow down the load time for your site, which will send your visitors packing.
You’re not giving due credit.
In a perfect world, all of the images you use in your blog would be photos you’ve taken or graphics you’ve created on your own. Sadly, most of us don’t have the time or know-how. Luckily, there are tons of great images out there to choose from, but just because you find them doesn’t mean you can use them without asking. Do it anyway, and you may find yourself in trouble–either with the owner, or with readers who recognize the image as a ripoff.
You have too few/too many images.
The type of post often dictates how many images you should use. For instance, if you’re writing a step-by-step guide or a research-heavy piece, it probably makes sense to have an image for each stage or statistic. If, however, your content is more opinion-based, you’ll probably be better off with just one or two images. Regardless of the type, however, remember that images are there to support your text, not the other way around. Cluttering your posts with tons of photos and graphics makes them more difficult for readers to parse, and may make them question how worthwhile your writing is.
It’s not enough to simply upload images to your blog: you need to make sure they’re properly labeled. This will help you not only with SEO, but also in the event that something goes wrong when your site loads. That is, if one of your images decides not to show up, the only thing visitors will have to go on will be the title and alt tag you’ve attached to it. So make sure they’re descriptive.
Your images don’t support your content.
Let’s say you write a post about advertising listings online. Let’s also say that in that post, you spend one sentence comparing Facebook to a black hole (zing!). What should your image be? Hint: Not a black hole. Using images that refer to a small, tangential portion of your content will only confuse blog visitors, who are trying to decide if they should commit to reading your post. Instead, try to choose an image that immediately resonates with your audience when they think of your topic.
A wrench. An unlabeled bar graph. A multicultural handshake. The old “acronym-in-3D-letters.” Images like these may give visitors a very general sense of what they’re in for, but they won’t really add any value or help you tell your story. Furthermore, posting images that have been used and reused by dozens of other blogs won’t exactly reassure readers that you have something new to contribute to the conversation.
Your placement is wrong.
Where you put your images can have just as much of an impact on readers as the images themselves. If your images are large, you’re better off centering them on page and placing them between the text. If they’re smaller, you’ll probably want to wrap the text around them, as I’ve done here. Format your images incorrectly, and you’ll end up with either too much empty space, or a bunch of text squished into a narrow corridor. Either way, a page with a clumsy layout doesn’t inspire much confidence in the quality of its content.
Published on June 29, 2012