If you look back through the archives of this blog you’ll notice that the first three years I rarely used images, unless it was a screen grab of something. My natural inclination is to blog quick and leave my posts pure text and links. But guess what, most people are very visual people. People like to look at pretty pictures. So several years ago I started including images in my posts.
This change coincided with my use of Zemanta and their blog recommendation software. (Tip: use Zemanta, it has additional SEO benefits besides their comment recomendations) I started having so much fun with images and was receiving really positive feedback that I started looking around for my own images. Flickr was by far my favorite place to find images because so many people licence their pictures under Creative Commons that as long as you’re not using it for commercial purposes and you link to the original, you can usually find a pictures to use without the fear of being sued. Finding one’s for commercial use, with no attribution is more difficult. (Tip: There’s lots of places to find free use pictures but Flickr is your best bet)
Result 1: I found my time on site and my pages per visit increased when I started using pictures. The more pages someone visits and the longer they spend on your site will usually lead to higher engagement in the form of comments and they are more likely to share your posts via social channels.
This is about the time that I stumbled across all the great Lego pictures out there (Balakov, is probably my favorite) and really started having fun with things and for the better part of two years I’ve mostly been using Lego and Star Wars Lego pictures. Pretty soon Lego pics kind of turned into sub-branding for me. When my posts get picked up on other sites if it has a Lego picture in it, people instantly recognize that and associate it with me. I’m not the only one that uses Lego pics, I’ve seen Mashable and other top blogs use these from time to time and I invariably get someone passing on a note to me about it.
The Lego pictures were working out so well for me that I decided about a year ago to start taking my own Lego pictures, in case I did ever want to do something commercial with my content, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting the rights. Now my pictures aren’t nearly as good as the ones I was using before, but that hasn’t seemed to matter. If anything my approach of using Instagram adds a unique look, which is nice since Lego pics have become even more common with social media bloggers.
Result 2: While it was an unintended consequence my frequent use of Lego pictures aided in my personal and site branding which extended off my site and even when the post or picture wasn’t mine.
What I’ve learned is that no matter how relevant the image might be to the post, almost any image is better than no image, but it’s better to have an image that enhances and even helps explain the post.
There’s also the additional benefit of SEO. Here’s some quick stats from my blog for the the last month. These stats are pretty normal. Rounding out the numbers for easier math, over the last 30 day’s I’ve received:
- 8, 000 total visits
- 3,000 from organic search
- Top 50 keywords brought in 1,500 (classic longtail)
- Of the top 50, eight were keywords from image results
- Those eight image search results brought in 150 visits
That may not sound all that impressive, but lets analyse this. The top “keyword” for all blogs now is (not provided) this is because any logged in Google user’s search results aren’t tracked. (not provided) added up to about 500 visits, or 1/3 of the traffic generated by my top 50 keywords. Among those there were bound to be a few image searches. I also didn’t look past my top 50 search results but I’m sure there were more image results than that. So while image search results only accounted for 5% of the the traffic of the top 50 organic search
And sure that’s only 2% of my total traffic but if this were advertising, a 2% conversion rate is huge. And I could probably increase those results if I followed these SEO tips . I currently don’t add alt text or caption very often. This is something that I should do more. (Tip: A few keywords, alt text and captions help search engines index your images.)
Result 3: Using images in my post led to an 5% increase in organic search traffic and a 2% increase in overall traffic. Plus there’s still room to improve if I followed better SEO practices.
So let’s summarize: Adding images to your blog posts, lead to a more engaged audience, stronger branding an an increase in traffic, just for doing one thing that’s actually quite easy and fun.
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