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We process images way faster than information expressed through writing – visuals help us to understand and remember data quicker. Moreover, pictures evoke emotional responses and can be employed to create a specific atmosphere for the entire blog or a single blog post.
They’re also perfect for catching and keeping the attention of your visitors. Here are a few tips to help you find and make a good use of free images for websites.
1. Using Your Own Pictures
Your picture should clearly communicate the topic of your blog post and be powerful enough to draw the attention of your visitors. One way to go about adding visuals to your blog is using your own pictures – it will make your blog more unique.
You won’t need to invest in expensive equipment – find a great spot or subject, use the light and take your smartphone or simple camera to take breathtaking pictures. Aim for your pictures to be of high quality, accessorize your photos with beautiful objects and always pay attention to composition and colour scheme.
2. Using Pictures of Other People – How to Do it Legally
Your other option is looking for pictures around the web – you can use those that have a Creative Common license. As long as you attribute the work in a manner specified by the author, you can use those pictures and even edit them to fit your purpose.
Where to hunt for free images for websites listed under CC license? Here are a few great resources:
- Flickr – narrow your search results to CC only (http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/by-2.0/)
- Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_page)
- Stock Vault (http://www.stockvault.net/)
- The Stocks (http://thestocks.im/)
- Free Photos Bank (http://freephotosbank.com/)
- Free Media Goo (http://www.freemediagoo.com/)
3. Uploading Images
Before uploading your picture, remember to reduce its size to fit your blog – otherwise you risk that your page load time will take ages. Image editing tools usually have a ‘Save for web’ option, which allows you to substantially reduce the size of your image without losing on its quality.
If you host your blog on WordPress, you can use plugins like WP Smush.it to easily prepare visuals for your blog. This plugin will provide the image size reduction that you need. In fact, WP Smush can auto-smush your attachments on upload, and you can also process all your images in bulk.
4. Optimizing Images for SEO
To make the most from your images in terms of SEO, make sure to name your file in a way that describes the content of the picture and includes relevant keywords. The alt text and title tags should also contain those keywords – this is what will make your visuals searchable on the web.
Writing an image caption is not a bad idea either – by including a description near the image, you’ll be on your way to being indexed by Google Image Search, which will hopefully increase the traffic on your blog.
5. Social Media Open Graph Meta Tags
Social media usually have image Meta – on Facebook, it’s called Open Graph and on Twitter, you’ll be looking for Twitter Cards. If you think these tags are nothing important, you might be making a huge mistake.
If you choose not to include them, the social networks won’t recognize those images and consequently, when someone shares your post, it will be displayed without images – a factor that will obviously hurt the click-through rate of the link.
For WordPress, just download relevant free plugins like JM Twitter Cards or WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol and you can be sure your pictures will always make your content look more attractive on social media.
FB Open Graph Protocol works for Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, but JM Twitter Cards will only work for Twitter (a Twitter Card enables you to add more images and text to your tweets). These dynamic plugins automatically pull your images from your posts and they use the titles and meta descriptions that you have typed by extracting them via your seo plugins.
A powerful, relatively new plugin was just re-released last week that enables you to easly find images (while in your WordPress Add New Post” editor) from the best free sources, like Flickr, Google Images, Pixabay, Europeana, Wikimedia Commons, Find Icons, Icon Finder, Openclipart and Free Images.
Once you select your image, you can then edit it right inside your WordPress dashboard and publish it along with your blog post when done. This saves a lot of time looking through different free image sites.
You just enter your keyword, select your image, make a few quick edits (maybe even add some text to customize it a little more) and you’re done.
Adorning your blog posts with visuals isn’t just about the look – great pictures will improve their chances of going viral and attracting audiences interested in what you have to say after seeing an eye-catching image that tells a lot about your brand.
How did you like my article about using free images for websites?
Did you know about social media open graph Meta tags and how important they are?
Do you have anything to add?
Please let us all know by leaving your comment in the Disqus comments section below. J
About the Author
Will Norquay is a blogger at Stayz. He specialises in travel blogs and writing about his adventures and backpacking experiences.
Image source: author-owned