As I mentioned in my first Performancing post:
While words are the pillars of blogs, don’t forget the images. Think of your blogs as magazines rather than academic publications. Heck, the latter even have diagrams to break the text.
Ever heard of the maxim that you’ve got less than a second to grab the attention of the reader? Aside from a captivating headline and lead sentence, there’s another blog element that can reel in readers — images.
Where to Look for Images?
Adding one image to a post doesn’t take much time, and can be extremely rewarding. If you’re having problems looking for free images on the Net, my usual haunts might be of help:
- stock.xchng – Check each image’s license to be sure. For example, if it states that the author needs to be contacted first, please do so, as it is basic courtesy.
- Google U.S. Government Search
- Wikipedia – Contrary to popular perception, not all Wikipedia images are free; also, some images require attribution to the original author of the work (e.g. this one, which I uploaded). Check below the image (often after the image summary) for the licensing information.
Speaking of Wikipedia, it has a comprehensive list of public domain image resources which you can use.
Images and SEO
Images don’t only work for human readers — they help in search engine optimization as well. Make sure the name of the image file is keyword-rich. Include the alt and title tags in the HTML code, and fill them in with keywords as well (don’t overdo it, though, as there’s a thin line separating keyword-rich content from outright spam).
If your competitor blog does not use images (or uses them but doesn’t care about the SEO), that means you’ve got one area where you can soundly defeat him in traffic building. In my early blogging days, I didn’t give much thought to images, but when I noticed a daily stream of traffic to my blogs thanks to an ‘accidental’ optimizing of one image, that’s when I took the practice seriously.
A word of caution: don’t go about sprinkling tons of images on your blog posts (photo blogs are an exception, of course). The phrase “everything in moderation” wasn’t concocted for nothing; too many graphics will slow down your blog. If you’re not yet an A-lister, new readers will be turned off by your site’s slow response time. If you’re already famous (to an extent), having lots of images will eat up your web hosting plan’s bandwidth and storage allowance.
One last thing when you’re using images in your posts — don’t ever, ever hotlink! Save the image on your computer, then upload it to your server or free photo hosting service.