Content is king, and written content is what it’s all about. But to get them to notice the written content you have to attract them with a great image. You are competing with everything else on the Internet, and you need to grab readers’ attention and create intrigue, mystery, curiosity and a host of other emotions that wrap their tendrils around your visitor and pull them to your writing.
Headlines matter, but an image will draw the eye faster than a clever headline. Headlines are still important, but a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
So how can you use images to get the attention of the people who should be reading your content? Here are 10 ideas:
Use at least one image per post. One image is the baseline. Can you include more, especially in a longer post? Put one image at the top of the page, and consider adding more the middle as well to break up your post. These will provide welcome breaks to your readers, as well as enticing scanners to stop and read your content.
Go for emotion. The image does not have to be a literal interpretation of the post. Look for images that convey the emotion behind the post. If your post is about how to prevent a house fire, you might be tempted to post an image of a building on fire. But how much more captivating would it be to have an image of someone experiencing loss – even without a single charred remain in the background? Look for images that play on the emotions, rather than ones that simply illustrate your story.
Pictures of people attract us. Studies show that readers pause longer on an image that shows at least one face. Something to keep in mind is that readers will follow the eyes of the person in the photo. Choose pictures of people who are looking toward the content or whatever you want the reader to look at. Alternatively, choose pictures of people who are looking out at the reader. If you don’t use faces, then look for something provocative or downright spectacular – something that makes the viewer stop in her tracks and want to know more.
Think about your images and choose carefully. It is easy to make images an afterthought, and grab the first one you see that seems to be a close-enough fit to the content. Take the time to choose a powerful image. It makes a difference.
Don’t rely solely on free images. I have used some free images, but sometimes the right image just isn’t available for free. You can almost always find better images when you’re willing to pay a little bit to use them, and the selection is far more vast and interesting as well. A boring image can mean fewer readers for your post. Why not spend a buck or so to get something with zing?
Consider taking your own photos. Sometimes a photo you take yourself is the best choice. You have something that readers won’t find on any other site, and it can help you build a more personal connection with your readers.
Create an entire post around pictures. With the advent of Pinterest, Instagram and other social media sites, you can now get traffic from interesting images. Try a post that’s filled with images, such as the most romantic places in your city, accessories you can’t live without, the best dishes at your favorite restaurants, etc.
Make it easy for readers to share your images. Add social media sharing buttons so readers can share your images on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If they love the images enough to share them, others will be interested in visiting your site because of them.
Use alt tags on your images. The search engines do not know what is in a picture unless you tell them. Including a keyword-rich description can help you to rank higher in the search engines, bringing you more traffic. If you are using WordPress, just add the tags in the “Alt Text” box when you are choosing and inserting the image.
Have fun! Not only is reading an article that contains images more interesting for the reader – it’s also more fun for the author. Choosing great images to share with your readers is one of the fun parts of blogging.