Creating strong, valuable content on a regular basis is difficult. Getting people to devote their time and attention to reading it can be even more challenging. One skill that every content creator must have is how to use images in their posts to garner attention.
Unlike reading a book or a magazine, people are conditioned to skim when they read anything on the internet. They spend a few seconds scanning for something worth their attention and if they can’t find it immediately, they move on. A sheer wall of text is too much for most people to stick around and muscle through.
That is where images come in to help. Effective use of photos and illustrations can grab a reader’s attention and keep them engaged long enough to convince them to pay more attention to your writing.
The Header Image
The first thing anyone will see on your post is your header image. This is your opportunity to make a great first impression. Take enough time to put together something that will hook people and get them intrigued enough to read through your article.
The header image is usually what people see in links shared on social media. Your header image needs to be able to compete with whatever else is showing up on your audience’s news feeds.
Make the colors bright, vibrant and stand out from the background. Muted colors have their place in other art forms, but not when the job is to pull someone’s attention towards your post.
On top of vibrant colors, try to use recognizable objects and shapes. Vector artwork is great for this because it offers people recognizable objects that hold their attention while simplifying things in a way that keeps them appealing to look at. If abstract art does not match the themes of your content, then there is nothing more interesting to the human eye than other humans. Faces, in particular, are instant attention grabbers.
“Good design encourages viewers to want to learn more.” – Alexander Isley
Create Frequent Breaks
Images play a role throughout a post as well. They can create breaks for the reader. A series of bite-size chunks of information is more appealing to read than one non-stop article.
However, do not just include pictures for the sake of having them fill a space. Every picture on your post should be meaningful and related to the main subject of the text. Use your artwork to supplement the text. Anything that takes attention away from it should be removed.
When it comes to the number of images to include in your post, there aren’t any set rules to follow. Use as many as it takes without feeling cluttered. Ask yourself if the image adds or takes away value from your post. If the latter is true, the image should be removed. Ultimately it comes down to your personal judgment.
Images can pull double duty by not only providing a break from the text but also illustrating the points being made. Process explanations and tutorials benefit greatly from having visual aids to illustrate what the text is trying to convey.
If you have the resources, infographics are a wonderful tool to use. Not only do they help get a lot of data and statistics to the reader quickly, but they are also 3 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content.
Don’t Forget SEO
On top providing breaks and offering additional explanations, visuals can be utilized as an additional place for SEO optimization.
Images at the top of a google search can be a huge source of traffic. When adding an image to your post, be sure to go through and add alt text. Not only does this fill the space if the image fails to load, but it also gives the image tags for search engine crawlers to identify.
File Size Considerations
While you need to have quality images throughout your posts, this does not mean it is a good idea to use huge, 4k images. The page still needs to be able to load in a timely manner. In fact, 53% of people leave a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on mobile.
It would be wise to optimize your picture files for fast loading before letting your post go live. WordPress has options and plugins that let users condense files down and avoid crushing load times. Alternatively, a quick google search will offer up several 3rd party options.
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t steal someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. However, if you are not careful with where you get your images and how you credit them, you could land yourself in hot water.
Google Images does not differentiate between copywritten material and free-to-use works. Be sure to search for artwork from sites like Envato and Photobucket for paid content and Unsplash and Pixabay for free visuals.
Note that if you are using someone else’s photos you need to check what you need to do to credit the artist. Some free-to-use content requires you to add a credit to the artist somewhere on your post.
If you aren’t finding anything that fits your post, you could always create your own pictures. Services like Canva offer premade templates and tools to customize your pictures while programs like GIMP offer Photoshop levels of control for free.
Just like a restaurant that skimps out on fries loses traffic, so too will a website that does not put in enough effort on the visuals. Use the images on your posts to supplement the great content you have already completed and keep visitors engaged.