When you’re planning content for your website, one of the best places to start is by putting yourself in the shoes of site visitors. This shouldn’t be hard to do. That’s because you, yourself, are also a consumer. You’re probably a frequent internet user.

Let’s say you click through to a landing page on a website that features a solid wall of text. It is one that isn’t broken up by whitespace or images of any kind. What’s the first thing you think about? You’re probably a little intimidated and overwhelmed. This type of presentation is visually daunting.

The problem is that the internet is a visual medium. Thus, without some variety and visual appeal, a web page just isn’t very attractive. This can lead to high bounce rates. Plus, there will be a scarcity of repeat visits. In other words, you need to add some images. It will make your content more attractive and engaging.

Not just any images will do, though. You have to figure out how to use images effectively. In turn, it will help retain viewer attention. It will also compel additional conversions.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Why are Images Important?

Vision is the strongest and generally most important of the five senses. Humans rely heavily on visual stimuli to navigate the world around them. The research company, The Nielsen Norman Group, ran an eye-tracking study. It revealed that website visitors spend a lot of time looking at relevant images on the screen. In fact, they spend more time on images than on related text on the same page.

Perhaps this is because a picture is worth a thousand words. In other words, you can convey a lot of information very quickly through an appropriate image. It’s even faster than you can with text.

The study emphasizes the importance of “relevant” images, though. Decorative images were generally ignored in the course of the study. The relevant images like product photos or those containing real people, as opposed to stock photos, received a lot more attention from viewers.

It’s important to use images to break up text and convey information that is more eye-catching. Doing so, in an engaging way, is crucial to grabbing and holding consumer attention. However, the content of your images is just as important. It ensures that viewers show interest and absorb the message you’re trying to convey.

Free Images

Now you understand the importance of including images in your content. Thus, it’s time to figure out how to gain access to images. One option is to produce images yourself. This is ideal if you want to include product images or photos of content authors.

In such cases, it’s easy to create the images on your own. Though, it’s a good idea to spring for high-quality photos. That way you don’t look like an amateur. You always want to promote yourself in the best light. That is true whether you’re creating textual content or images to enhance your copy.

You can also take advantage of free images from a variety of sources. There are an absolute plethora of websites offering access to millions of free stock images. Unsplash, for example, is an incredible resource. This site allows you to copy, use, and modify photos however you choose.

You might also try sites like Picjumbo, Death to Stock, FoodiesFeed, Startup Stock Photos, and Free Nature Stock, just to name a few. You can find free image sites that feature hundreds of thousands of images in every category. They also have images that focus primarily on a single category.

What’s really great is there are plenty of resources that help you to avoid that “stock image” aesthetic. According to the study cited above, viewers tend to skip over images with models. Also, they often overlook those that have decorative appeal but less pertinent visual data.

Finding the right images is essential to grabbing and holding viewer attention. There are so many free images at your disposal. Therefore, you shouldn’t have trouble striking a balance with images that are both arresting and informative.

Image Placement

Where you put your images may not be quite as important as the images you choose. However, the layout and design aren’t just for displaying your artistic flair. You need to understand the way people consume content. Thusly, you can place images for maximum impact.

Take a look at the front page of a newspaper. Unless you’re looking at a dense publication like the Wall Street Journal that’s aimed at industry professionals, the image prevails.  What you’re likely to see is that a large, compelling image is located just below the header. Additionally, it’s usually under an attention-grabbing headline.

This is the area “above the fold”. It’s what convinces viewers to pick up the paper, unfold it, and read the article below. You should take a page from this tried-and-true media playbook. It will help when it comes to placing your own images.

Consider that the “fold” in your content is anything the viewer has to scroll down to see. Don’t populate your image below the fold. If you do, viewers may take one look at all the copy and navigate away without ever viewing the image.

It’s much better to place relevant images prominently above the fold. In doing so, you’ll convey information quickly. Visitors will know they’re in the right place. Their attention will be held long enough to convince them to continue reading.

Testing

Naturally, there is bound to be some amount of trial and error involved in image selection and placement. Testing (A/B, multivariate) helps you figure out which images and placement viewers find most compelling. Track metrics to see how visitors react to different usage. Accordingly, you can get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t.

Optimization

As a final note, it’s also wise to consider the role SEO might play in image selection. Any content you use on your pages can be optimized. It’s especially important to optimize content that you think will be shared. That includes specific types of images like infographics.

Optimization could revolve around embedded metadata. It can use certain types of images to promote content for search. This includes providing rich data with images like charts, graphs, and so on. These help you get featured for specific search queries. In either case, your optimization tactics could have some bearing on the images you select.

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