Yes, people come for the content, but first you’ve got to attract them with the image. After all, images are the first thing people notice about your page or post.
The right image can grab attention and create intrigue, mystery, curiosity and a host of other emotions that wrap their tendrils around your visitor and glue them to your writing. As an added benefit, the better your image is at capturing attention, the less important your headline becomes. A great image with a mediocre headline will almost always lure the visitor into reading your content, while a sub par headline on its own seldom will.
What can you do to maximize the effect images have on your visitor? Here are 10 keys:
1. Use at least one image per post. Every post should have an image of its own above the fold. And if your post is long, consider adding images into the middle as well to break up your post. These will provide welcome breaks to your readers, as well as enticing scanners to stop and read your content.
2. Look for images that work on a gut level. If your post is about how to prevent a house fire, you might be tempted to post an image of a building on fire. But how much more captivating would it be to have an image of someone experiencing loss – even without a single charred remain in the background? Look for images that play on the emotions, rather than ones that simply illustrate your story.
3. Use faces. Studies show that readers pause longer on an image that shows at least one face. If you don’t use faces, then look for something provocative or downright spectacular – something that makes the viewer stop in her tracks and want to know more.
4. Use images in your RSS feed. Just like blog posts, an image can make the difference between your writing being read or ignored. Think of the image combined with the headline as your book cover, and your post as the contents. People do judge books by their covers, and they do the same when looking through their feeds.
5. Take the time to get it right. Grabbing the first interesting image you see is seldom a recipe for stopping Internet traffic. If you need to spend as much time sourcing an image as you do writing the post, then do it. It’s worth the extra effort.
Consider purchasing your images. You can almost always find far better images when you’re willing to pay a little bit to use them, and the selection is far more vast and interesting as well. Keep in mind – a bland as toast image could actually HURT your chance to get your post read. Spend a buck or two and get something that leaps off the page and into your reader’s imagination.
If money is tight, there is a third option, and that’s using creative commons photos. They’re free to use but you MUST give the proper attribution to the photographer. For example, you can start a search for creative commons images here: https://search.creativecommons.org
6. Just do it. Adding images might sound too simple, but the fact is that it will almost certainly increase the time visitors spend on your site.
7. Consider taking and using your own photos. If you’re a shutterbug, by all means get busy. Using your own photos will personalize your website that much more, as well as building a deeper connection with your audience.
8. Build an entire post around pictures. With the advent of social media, you can now get traffic simply for having great images. So why not try a post that’s image dense, such as the most romantic places in your country, or the funniest photos ever, etc.
9. Don’t forget to add alt tags to your images. This can help you to rank higher in the search engines, bringing you more traffic.
10. Have fun. Not only is reading an article that contains images more interesting for the reader – it’s also more fun for the author to put together.