“Blogging is great! Just put up a few new articles every week, and watch your readership and sponsorship grow exponentially.” If only it were so easy.
The truth is blogging is a difficult pursuit which requires creativity, persistence, and patience. One thing pro bloggers have learned of over the years is the importance of including high quality images in their blog articles. They have learned images aren’t just for aesthetics. They can also improve a blog’s search engine ranking and web traffic. In this article we will examine how images encourage loyal readership and increase our position in the search engines.
A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
I recommend anyone serious about blogging use high quality photographs and images regularly. These can be stock photos, which are available relatively cheaply through microstock agencies. They can also be images found through Flickr which are available under the Creative Commons license.
It should go without saying, but you never want to include poor quality images in your blog articles. A poor quality image speaks poorly to the seriousness of your endeavor, and will not encourage readers to return. High quality images enhance the user experience, and help us tell stories in our articles.
Breaking Up Text
By definition, someone “cruising the internet” is moving quickly through websites and likely has a short attention span at that moment. This creates a challenge for bloggers who need to capture a reader’s attention, and get them to stick around for the entire article.
Because of this, it is sound practice to break up text into short paragraphs. A long, continuous stream of text will overwhelm the reader and discourage them from reading the article. I like to keep my paragraphs to no more than 4 to 6 lines.
Images are integral to capturing the net cruiser. They have the effect of breaking up articles into readable chunks, much as short paragraphs do. Images also give net cruisers an overview of our article before they read a single word. As such they are a great tool for capturing attention and encouraging further reading. Captivating images raise the value of our blog, and tell our readers that we are serious and committed to giving them a great experience.
Images and Search Engines
The biggest reason I use images in all of my blog articles is they give search engines another way to find my website. For instance my articles are readily found in Google, and Google Blog Search. The inclusion of images allows Google Images to index my website too. This gives me a third way to be indexed by Google with no additional effort required of me.
But in order for our images to rank well in Google Images, we need them to be optimized.
If you just rolled your eyes and said, “Not another SEO article,” fear not. Very little effort is required to help Google Images find and properly rank the images on our blog pages.
The most basic change we can make is to name our images in a way that search engines understand. The file name of our image should be easy to understand, and contain basic keywords which describe it. An image named “fast-car.jpg” tells the search engine a lot more than does an image named “IMG1908.jpg.”
Do not put spaces in between words, and don’t use underscores either. Spaces and underscores tend to cause search engines to concatenate the words together. So a file named “Sunny Afternoon” might be interpreted by the search engine as “SunnyAfternoon”, which is not a word which you want people to find your blog image by.
Instead, simply place dashes in between words. “Sunny-Afternoon” will be evaluated as two separate words. It’s a simple naming convention.
It’s also important to fill out the “title” and “alternate text” fields for your image. These are easily editable in both WordPress and Google Blogger. Search engines use these fields so they know what an image is about, and how it should be indexed. The fields are there for a reason. Don’t leave them blank.
Using high quality images in our blog articles allows us to capture fast moving visitors, and turn them into readers. Images help break up text, and add color and interest to our articles.
By properly naming the image files, and filling out the title and alternate text fields, we give Google Images a way to find and rank our images. This gives us an additional and important way for our blog to be exposed to potential readers.
About Guest Author:
Dan Padavona is an avid blogger, and the founder of Warmpicture Royalty-Free Images. When Dan isn’t blogging, you can find him online helping others to become better bloggers and improve their writing skills.