The old adage that a picture is worth 1000 words may ring true for those of us who have a sincere appreciation for photography or tend to gravitate towards art, but from an internet marketer’s point of view an image is worth, well… significantly less than 1000 pieces of text. Web crawlers thrive off of text and thus it should come as no surprise that most sites, especially ones that rank well, are text and not image heavy. Text has always been and for the foreseeable future will continue to be the undisputed king of the web.
Why should I even bother with images?
There are many reasons, but here are 3 that stand out:
1. Images can drive traffic through search
2. Images pair well social media
3. Images enhance content
Let’s dive into the specifics:
Images for search
Aside from Google and Bing both having a separate search vertical dedicated to images, images themselves can, and do so regularly, appear on the first search engine results page. Having at least one image on a page increases the chances of your site showing up in one of these searches.
A couple of best practices from an SEO perspective:
1. Have the file name match the image
Instead of naming a photo something like 10035.jpg or car.jpg, make the file name more specific, such as hondacivic.jpg or hondahatchback.jpg
2. Use the alt attribute
Add the ALT tag to your images to aid the search engines in their pursuit of guessing what it is.
For the picture at the right I would use <img src=”hondacivic.jpg” alt=”1998 red Honda civic 2-door”. WordPress makes this a breeze, but it’s easy enough to add on your own as well.
Images for social
When a visitor decides to share one of your pages directly in their feed or by hitting the “like” button within the page, the content appears on the user’s individual profile and possibly in their news feed if they so desire. Provided that your content has an image tied to it, when it’s posted on Facebook it’ll end up having a higher click through rate than the same content without an image.
Stumblueupon, perhaps now the undisputed king of social bookmarking sites, is heavily influenced by images. When a “stumbler” is browsing through content, it’s images and not just text, that catch their attention. Having a large image above the fold (at the top of the page) is a useful tactic for grabbing the readers attention and drawing them in.
On pinterest users share and catalog their favorite images for later reference by pinning them. If your pages and blog posts lack images, it makes them irrelevant to this niche, but fast growing network. No image = no pin.
Considered to be the world’s largest online photo social network, Flickr has the potential to send traffic in your direction if you happen to be providing your own photos, especially if the work is of high quality.
Tumblr, Dailybooth, and other social networks
Don’t dedicate too much time towards these, but if your images are incredible, and again especially if you’re creating them yourself, pushing them out to a photo hungry social network such as Tumblr or Dailybooth may lead to some additional traffic.
Images for content
Aside from search and social, images enhance the perceived value of your content. There’s a reason why top blogs and news sites regularly include images, it’s because readers simply love and can’t get enough of them. When paired with the right text, an image or collection of images can add that extra touch that makes a piece of content stand out amongst the constant bombardment of choices readers are regularly faced with.
No matter if you’re creating original material or curating it from others, the time spent adding images in support of text is always time well spent. The search engines, the social networks, and – most importantly – the readers, will appreciate the effort.