The Power of an Image

An image can be many different things. It can be a factual representation of a scene or the preservation of a life-changing moment. It can sweep us away to a place of fantasy or remind us of what is truly important. It can even evoke an emotional response. We can connect with an image in an instant.

With this in mind, the importance of an image’s presence in your blog posts should be evident. There are a few guidelines that you should keep in mind when choosing an image for your blog post.

Relevance


Your image should contain subject matter that is relevant to your post and allows the reader to make a connection between the image and the post. The image could relate an implied connection, stirring an emotion that you want your reader to experience as they read your post. It could also show a direct connection that relates to the topic you are addressing in your post.

Quality


Above all, the image that you choose should represent the professional sensibilities of your brand. It is very important that the image be of a professional quality that is in line with your branding standards. There are several great microstock image companies, such as iStockphoto and Thinkstock, that offer a wide variety of high-quality images at affordable prices.

There are a few things to consider when choosing an image: lighting, composition and creativity.

Lighting
The lighting in the image should be consistent. It’s important not to post an image that is overexposed, or too bright. You should still be able to make out details in the shadows and highlights of the image rather than seeing just black or white. With that said, there should also be a healthy level of contrast in the image so that it doesn’t appear monotone or flat.

Composition
Composition is also very important. When considering an image, keep the rule of thirds in mind. Simply put, if you were to divide the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, does the main subject of the image land on one of the intersecting lines? Many images in which the subject matter is centered either vertically or horizontally can lack depth and may actually detract from your post.

The image on the right accurately portrays the rule of thirds. The subject is strategically positioned on the far side of the image, and the horizon transitions on the bottom rule of thirds line.

Creativity
Lastly, you should always consider the creativity of the image. You want the image to elicit an immediate reaction. If the image is something expected or relays a stale idea in general, then readers may not find merit in the content of your post and might actually react negatively to the piece.

The tech blog Gizmodo is a great example of how to positively use images in your posts. The blog regularly includes creative images with a comedic relation to their post’s subject matter, and features product shots that are professionally done. The images are typically at the top of the post, so they immediately grab the reader’s attention.

SEO


Images can also play a strong role in your search engine optimization (SEO). Although search engines cannot see images in terms of keywords, they can recognize alt text and the file name of your image. Your images should be properly tagged so search engines can identify the content of your image. Blogging programs have various methods to attach alt text to an image, or the alt text can be added within the HTML code.

The file name of your image should also describe the content of the image rather than containing random numbers or unrelated words. For example, the image at the beginning of this post includes an owl. The file name may simply be owl.jpg or owl_with_snowy_forest.jpg. This provides you with another opportunity to use relevant keywords to drive traffic to your site.

It is also essential to optimize your images for the Web. If an image is larger than necessary, it can impede the load times of your site and detract from the reader’s experience. This can lead to readers not returning to your site and can also negatively affect your SEO.

Image size can be reduced with a number of different image editing programs or within some blogging programs. For Web content, 72 dpi is ideal. The physical size of the image may vary depending on the use of the image, but around 600 px on the long side of the image is a good starting point.

Overall, the consistent use of creative imagery in your posts can help boost the consistency of your readership and impress upon your audience the creativity of your brand.