The Art of Image Selection for Your Blog Posts

If the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is indeed true, the visual content that you select for your blog posts can make or break an article.

When given the choice to read a post made up of block upon block of copy, or an article illustrated with infographics, photos, and illustrations, most people would choose the latter.

The fact is that content is a lot easier to take in and digest when it’s interspersed with visual components.

In the interest of optimizing your blog content for maximum results, this post will delve into the psychology behind what works and what doesn’t, and provide tips and tricks to master the art of choosing and embedding images in your posts.

Images make your content memorable.

Well-chosen visual content is critical not only in driving increased traffic to your site, but also in making your content memorable.

According to the Pictorial Superiority Effect, pictures and images are more likely to be remembered than words. 

In addition, if information is presented orally, when tested 72 hours after exposure, people remembered about 10%. If you add a picture in, that figure goes up to 65%.

[Source: HubSpot]

Including visual content in your blog posts allows you to illustrate the points made in the text and cement them in the mind of your reader.

Your featured image matters most.

First impressions make a world of difference. The first image in your post can have the same effect as its headline–it will either draw your audience in or push them to continue browsing through other competing content.

Whether it’s visually striking, curiosity-inducing, inspiring, or educational, you’ll want this introductory image to entice the reader to dive in and read further.

The featured image also directly affects shares and traffic, as it’s typically the image that gets pulled in when people share links to your content on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As a matter of fact, Tweets with pictures see a 35% increase in retweets, and 87% of the top posts on Facebook include pictures.

Therefore, you’ll want to optimize your blog post images to work well with social media sharing.

The size of the image won’t matter in this context, but the shape certainly does.

The width-to-height ratio of an image is called the aspect ratio. Images that are wide are called landscape and images that are tall are referred to as portrait.

As long as the image has a landscape aspect ratio and is roughly twice as wide as it is tall, it will look fine on every social sharing platform.

In doing this, you’ll avoid the regretful feeling of seeing someone share your post only to find that the image is distorted or key elements are cropped from view.

It’s all in the eyes.

The elements and composition of images, particularly photos, can have a big effect on how your audience interprets what you are communicating.

For example, people’s faces in a photo can steer the viewer’s attention in certain directions.

Eye tracking studies have found that if the eyes of people in an image are looking in a certain direction, the viewers will tend to look in that direction, too. Knowing this piece of information can help with selecting and creating images for product marketing content pieces.

In the example below, you’ll see one study found that 84% of participants looked at a product if the woman in the photo looked at the product, versus 6% if she was looking in another direction.

Ensure your selected images are relevant.

The images you choose to include should encompass and represent the point of your article as much as possible, especially the featured image.

If the connection between the headline and featured image isn’t obvious, your posts can come across as unprofessional, significantly lowering the chances of click-throughs.

You may find that certain topics don’t have obvious imagery associated with them, making it difficult to find a suitable image.

One tip is to alter the headline to incorporate a word that can be visually represented on its own in a symbolic manner, such as an adjective that has some obvious imagery associated with it.

For example, if you were writing an article about segmentation in digital marketing strategy, you could use a photo of orange segments to symbolize the topic in a basic sense of the word.

Optimize with high-quality and high-quantity images.  

It may sound obvious, but we can’t stress enough how important high-quality and non-pixelated photos are in giving your blog credibility.

That said, if an image has too high of a resolution, your image files will take a long time to render, therefore slowing down the post’s page load time.

Slow load times can have a pretty negative affect on your potential traffic–40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

To avoid issues with load time, try keeping your image sizes to under 100KB.

If your desired image is larger than that, photo editing tools such as Photoshop can come in handy to resize your image.

In terms of quantity of images, using consistent images throughout your posts can help keep people from scanning your article and losing interest too quickly. As they scroll down through your post, the aim is for them to never hit a wall of words.  

Using multiple images throughout a post will keep readers engaged until the end. After putting the effort into writing your post, it’s always rewarding to know that the content in full was appreciated and consumed.

Source images that won’t get you sued.

Depending on your budget, you have a few options.

You can source professional stock images from sites like Shutterstock, 123RF, and iStockphoto.

Whether you select an on-demand or subscription plan, these sites will be charging you for each image you select for usage.

For those with a more modest budget, there are several places to find free, high-quality photos.

For example, HubSpot has a library of free stock photos available to the public, and Death to the Stock Photo delivers high-quality free images to your email on a regular basis.

What you do need to be particularly cautious and aware of when it comes to free image sourcing is copyrighted images.

When you buy stock imagery, it’s license free. After purchasing, you technically own the image, so you can use it however you wish.

If you don’t own an image, be sure to cite your source, whether it be an infographic, illustration, or photo.

However, citation won’t necessarily keep you out of getting into legal trouble.

If you want to be sure that your images are unprotected and freely available, Flickr is a good source for Creative Commons-licensed content–meaning that anyone can repurpose the images for their blogs, website, and other properties. 

It’s good to note that if you plan to modify a Flickr photo (i.e., cropping it) or use it in a commercial context, it’s best to search images with an Attribution license versus the other Creative Commons license types offered. 

Or, if you prefer to rely on Google image search, be sure to use their search tool that enables you to filter for usage rights.

Whether you’re marketing a physical product or teaching an obscure concept to your audience, there are a host of ways you can bring your blog posts to life with visual representations.

Next time you’re working on a post, aim to incorporate some of the advice listed above–we guarantee it will liven up your posts and increase engagement.

Looking for advice on how to further optimize your blog for increased conversions? Check out our 5 Simple Strategies to Create Blogs That Convert!


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