Create the best user experiences
Blogging is all about communicating experiences. The best way to communicate these experiences to your readers is by showing striking images that directly transport your audience to the topic you’re writing about. Think about it, when you read an article about London which only consists of a long text, will you read through to the end? Or will you stop halfway? And what about when you’re reading an article about London which has gorgeous images across the entire page? Right, I think you get my point.
And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to create images that stick. I’m talking from my own experience: I’m all but a professional photographer. But I can ensure you that my blog attracts much more returning visitors then when I wouldn’t include any photos in my posts. You can even take striking pictures with your phone!
Beautify your images
You know that feeling that when you open your image files on your computer, and they turn out much different from what you saw on your camera’s (or phone’s) display? This can feel like a huge disappointment, but don’t fret, because there are plenty of (free) tools available to edit your photos.
Editing images in Photoshop
I do realize that Photoshop is quite expensive and that not everyone has this program on his/her computer, so I’ve listed some free tools as well down below. Photoshop is probably the most well-known photography editing tool out there. It comes with tons of options, most of which I haven’t even tried myself. If you’ve just bought yourself a version of Photoshop, I would recommend you to check out Youtube for tutorials. There are some great ones out there!
Editing photos in PicMonkey (FREE)
PicMonkey is a free online tool in which you can touch up and edit your photos. In addition, the tool features tons of cool effects, overlays, frames, and fonts to take your images to the next level. If you like to have more options, you can sign up for Picmonkey’s upgraded version.
Editing photos in Pixlr Express (FREE)
Pixlr has three different online photo editing tools, but Pixlr Express definitely is my favorite. Like Picmonkey, Pixlr Express offers several editing tools, effects, overlays and fonts to make your visuals stand out. Great about Pixlr Express is that it comes with an IOS and Android app, so you can edit your photos on the go!
Optimize your images for the web
Before you can include the images you just edited on your blog, you have to optimize them. This can be done during the editing process, or if you have WordPress, you can do it via the media editor. I made the absolute rookie mistake to upload my huge DSLR files directly from Photoshop onto WordPress. This led to my library becoming completely full, and what’s worse: the pages of my blog took FOREVER to load. This led to a decrease in user experience, and that’s the last thing you want. If people have to wait for your pages to load, they rather go somewhere else.
Optimize your images using Photoshop
There are a few important things you should realize while editing photos in Photoshop. First of all, you should decrease the amount of pixels for large image files, as well as the resolution: Go to Image -> Image size -> change the resolution to 72 -> adjust width to 800 pixels (height will automatically change to the right size) for horizontal photos. Adjust width to 500 pixels for vertical photos (these sizes can be a little bit different depending on the theme that you’re running on WordPress). See how my image size decreased from 1.63 MB to 697.9k?
Next, you want to go to File -> Save for Web. You can adjust each setting to your liking, and see what happens to the quality of the newer image version on the left. I mostly set everything up like this:
Optimize your images using Picmonkey
You can’t get the optimal results like in Photoshop, but it’s really easy to optimize your images in Picmonkey for the web. When you’re finished editing, click on save to adjust the dimensions as discussed before (800 pixels width for horizontal photos, 500 pixels width for vertical photos).
Optimize images using the WordPress Media Editor
If your images are already saved in your Wordpress Media Library, you can easily change the dimensions while you’re writing a post: click on a photo in your media library and click on edit image. Fill out the dimensions in the scale image boxes.
Image optimization plugins
I would always advice you to optimize your images before you upload them to WordPress. However, there are some plugins that can bulk optimize your images for you, such as WP Smush and EWWW Image Optimizer. Don’t forget to re-enter the optimized images in your post once you’re done. If you have a lot of posts with un-optimized photos it can be quite a challenge to check all of them. I would suggest to check a maximum of two posts a day, starting with your new ones (I’m still in the process of all of that myself), or it will utterly exhaust you.
I keep on telling you how important optimizing your images is, because it is! People don’t like waiting, so if your pages load slowly due to large image files, you’ve lost them.
SEO optimize your images
Besides optimizing your images for the web, you really should also focus on SEO optimizing them. SEO means Search Engine Optimization and is important when you want your posts and pages to be found by large search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.
These are the most important aspects you have to think about when SEO optimizing your images:
- Give your image files titles that describe the photos
- Repeat this title naming process in your WordPress Media Library
- Also fill out the alt tag with a description that makes clear what the image is about
All these steps help search engines noticing your website and the images you have on there. This means that your audience can find you quicker too, which is what you want right?
The power of social media
Congratulations! You’ve just created your pieces of art and included them in your posts. Including images and videos in your posts is an absolute must, but don’t limit yourself to that. Your blog has much more potential if you share these visuals across the World Wide Web. These days when social media is striving, you almost drown in all the possible social media outlets that are available.
I’ve set out the top 5 social media outlets which you can use to share your visuals on to generate blog traffic:
Whenever you share a link to your blog posts on Facebook (which I assume you do right?) make sure to include an image in the post. Why? Because people tend to click on URL’s in Facebook posts with images easier than on URL’s in Facebook posts without images. All very straightforward stuff, but essential when you want to increase your blog traffic.
There are a few social media platforms out there that were created purposely for sharing images. Instagram is such a platform. The downside of Instagram is that you can’t enter a URL to blog posts in Instagram posts itself. However, make sure to inform people that you have a new blog post on the blog in the description of your Instagram posts. By adding something like (link in bio), people can head over to your bio in which you’ve added the URL to your blog post.
In Instagram, it’s important to use hashtags (#) to reach a larger audience. Check out top-hashtags.com for example to get an idea of which hashtags are most successful. Make sure to only add relevant hashtags to your posts. You can also find like-minded Instagrammers by searching Instagram on these hashtags, and connect with them this way.
Another social media platform dedicated to images is Pinterest. Pinterest is a platform on which you can share webpages using images. You can create different boards focusing on your interests, and share photos on there from the web, from Pinterest or from your own blog. When people click on a photo from one of your blog posts, you want them to get send to your blog, so make sure to include the URL to the physical post! Try to find group boards for bloggers in your niche to be able to share your posts on there as well.
For Twitter, the same rules apply as for Facebook: always include images in your tweets about new posts to get the best results. This way, you have a better chance at people clicking on the URL in your tweet, and you increase the odds to get more retweets. Add hashtags relevant to your post and tag relevant people when applicable.
Stumbleupon is a social media platform which gives you the opportunity to search the web for pages that interest you. Not only that, but other people can click the Stumbleupon like button when they are on your page and your content gets shared on this platform. Now, when others click on the stumble button, there is a chance that they stumble onto your post. You can also like your own content, but don’t this too often, as Stumbleupon will penalize you.
This social media platform has by far given me the best results. Before you start liking the content on your own page, check out the content you get to see when you use the stumble button. Most of the pages you stumble on are lists with numbers or bullet points, and all include images or videos. Titles often start with: Top 10… How to… and The Best Way to… When I tried to apply the same method in a post about road trips in the UK and shared this on Stumbleupon, I saw a huge surge in traffic to that particular page. A massive surge. I almost started to hyperventilate (don’t blame me please, I’m not used to large traffic numbers yet).
The mighty Influence of Word of Mouth
The power of word of mouth is everything. Always make it possible for people to share your blog images on their social media channels. Add social sharing buttons on all images, create social sharing sidebars and make sure you have enough social sharing buttons on the top and bottom of posts and pages. There are thousands of plugins available which you can use, and most WordPress themes include social sharing buttons as well. Make use of them! They can literally make or break your blog (maybe not literally though…).
The final tip I will give you is to join Facebook groups for social media sharing. There are groups created for bloggers in which each blogger helps each other, by for example re-pinning pins on Pinterest, Stumble each other’s pages, comment on each other’s Facebook posts… It’s a bit like cheating maybe, but if it works, why won’t you give it a try?
Here you have it, The Ultimate Guide to Increase Your Blog Traffic Using Images! Do you have any tips to add? Help each other by naming them in the comments below.