How Images Can Make or Break Your Website’s SEO

A website without images is a boring thing. Even the most academic and sober websites feature images of some kind. It’s easy to defend the use of visuals. According to Business2Community, web pages with images draw in 94% more impressions than text-only web pages. That number is too high to challenge. But it’s not enough to slap on any old image on your blog or website and call it a day. If you want to boost your SEO by making your website more visually appealing, here’s what you need to know.

Bad Photography Isn’t Going to Help You

Pixellated, dark, blurry, and unprofessional photography acts like a contagion that makes all other elements of your website look just as bad. Your efforts to do all your own photos are admirable, but they’re likely to do more harm than good. That’s why so many web developers pay for high-quality stock photos and/or hire a professional photographer to take their shots. If you sell through Amazon, your images have to follow extremely precise criteria that can’t be avoided or changed. If you run an e-commerce site, all your product shots should be professionally lit and taken with a DSLR camera. Not only does it look cleaner and more legit, it instills confidence in customers.

Don’t Put Too Much Stock in Stock Photos

Stock images are great…but within reason. Your website shouldn’t contain only stock images for the simple fact that “If you fill your website with stock imagery, you’ll look unoriginal – like thousands of other sites that don’t stand out” (source). You see this most often in websites for professional services like law firms, insurance companies, and mortgage brokers. It’s always the same multicultural group of smiling men and women in suits. Unfortunately, users don’t really look at these pictures. They see right through them. They might be desensitized by the image or they might recognize them for what they are: unoriginal filler.

Images Without Attribution Are Empty Spaces

Don’t fall victim to this simple mistake. Every visual element on your web page—whether it’s a logo, video, or picture—needs to have coherent and descriptive text attached to it. This can easily be accomplished by giving your photo an appropriate file name, alt attribution, and even caption. You should remember to do this for a few reasons: Firstly, proper image file names give Google and other search engines crucial information for indexing your site. That is, a proper image file name and attribution puts into words what is taking up that space. For SEO purposes, it’s an easy way to add a keyword-rich description and to fill your web pages with as much indexable content as possible. Secondly, alternative texts assist users who face difficulties seeing your images for whatever reason. Let’s say, for instance, that your pictures won’t load. A descriptive alternative text sits in that empty box instead. Furthermore, alt texts are essential for people with disabilities to understand.

Visual Elements Should Always Make Sense

So, we’ve established that photos, images, vectors, and logos are good. But you should never add visuals for the sake of adding visuals. It doesn’t add anything to the user’s experience and it might up looking like you’re trying to fill in spaces where text should probably go. How do your visuals make sense with the text? According to Search Engine Journal, “Ultimately, your reason for having an image is to complement the content, break up the text, and help your audience understand a product or concept.” If your image doesn’t do any of these things, ask yourself if it’s necessary. Yes, photos, screenshots, and infographics help tell a story, break up text, and elucidate your content. But don’t feel like you need to fill a quota. Filler images don’t improve the user’s experience, so we suggest finding better images or not adding images at all.

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