A blog post without an image is about as appealing as a hot dog without ketchup and mustard. It will fill an empty hole but isn't gonna keep you coming back for more.
Choosing the right images for your blog post is absolutely essential but how many of us have been guilty of quickly scouring through Google and inserting a couple of hastily chosen, closely related photos or graphics without really paying that much attention to what we were doing?
As images are obviously such an essential part of a blog post I decided to take a little bit of time to think about what makes an image a good choice or not.
The first thing that I wanted to understand was why we needed to use images in the 1st place. Yes I know we've already established that it would be nigh on impossible to get anybody to spend any time on a post without images, but what do we actually need the images to do in order to be useful?
Over at searchenginepeople.com, Linda Stacy summed up pretty well the main reasons why we need to use images in a blog post:
Appealing images can help dress up a post, attract readers' attention to the copy, and encourage them to stick around to read the post.
Images can be used to break up long blocks of text and act as headings that direct the eye to the main points.
Graphics help illustrate a point and can provide or clarify data.
A lot of people when reading online tend to skim and pick out the bits that stand out rather than taking in every word as we would when reading a book. For anyone skimming through an article, things such as images, bullet points or subheadings catch the eye and more often than not the text around those attention grabbers will then receive more attention.
So that leads on to another important consideration, where to put each particular image?
Choosing an image that is relevant to the text that you want to draw your readers towards is going to have a much higher chance of ensuring that they read the surrounding words. The subject and the composition of the image will be what grabs the attention but visitors are unlikely to go on reading if the text is not relevant to what grabbed their attention in the 1st place.
The size of the image that you select is also extremely important. For a blog post your initial decision needs to be do you go with a full-width image or a smaller image that you wrap the text around?
A full-width image is more likely to grab the attention of your visitor but a smaller image with the text wrapped around it is more likely to actually get the text read. I've always found trying to keep images that require wrapping right-aligned so that the flow of the left to right read that we have in the English language is not disrupted.
However, when disruption is what you want to grab that wandering attention then a left-aligned image can serve you well.
The full-width image is best used to reinforce a slight change of direction, often followed by header. The large image stops the skimmer and the job of the header will be to entice the reader into your story.
Another important consideration is how many images should you have?
The short answer is as many relevant images as you can sensibly include without spoiling the overall visual appeal of the post. In practical terms I try and have a visual break of some kind, an image, graphic or video, in view on the screen at all times. This means that if you continue to scroll down the page there should always be at least one image in view.
That's just a rough guide and you will need to add in a dash of common sense. Different topics may require some adaptation of that guideline, for example screenshots accompanying a how-to post may need more images in view.
Let us know if you have an ordered approach to adding images to your blog posts or do you just wing it?
How important do you think images are to the success of your content? Leave a comment below and let us know.