Will photos of kittens drive traffic?
I’ve just spent the last hour looking for a photo to illustrate a client’s business blog. Not perhaps the most productive way to spend my time, but necessary all the same. Speaking to bloggers and clients, sourcing appropriate imagery is one area that they would like help with. Not surprisingly many people resort to using staid stock imagery to illustrate their posts.
Use photos to promote your company brand
Does this matter? I’ve recently taken over a client’s blog and inherited content that uses a lot of generic stock photography. When viewing the homepage of their blog this isn’t an issue. Their website is very corporate and the grey-suited businesspeople looking earnestly at laptops or paperwork fit in with their branding and company image. No doubt their target audience identify with these slightly more polished versions of themselves, or find these images aspirational in their working life.
So no need to change this then? On the face of it no. But what happens when you view these images out of context? Especially when they are in someone’s news field such as on Google+, promoting your blog post? Instead of contributing to the overall branding of your website, these images are now competing with photos and updates from countless other sources. How will these city slickers stand up to the funny, the intriguing, the sexy and the downright peculiar pictures all trying to grab our attention?
Photos promote your post in news feeds
Photos are not just included in a blog post to break up the text, add a little variety or show a reader your product or mugshot; more importantly they are part of the promotional tools you can use to get visitors to your website. People are very visual, in fact they’ll look at a photo before they look at a headline. So getting your blog photo right is just as important as writing a snappy title for your post.
But I don’t want pictures of cute kittens on my business website, I hear you say. No me neither, but it will be interesting to see how much traffic the above image drives to my site today! Fortunately there are ways your can create a balance between attention grabbing imagery, and photos that fit with your company culture.
Tips for finding great images for your blog
- Do some research. Half the problem we have with finding suitable images to illustrate posts is that it’s done in a rush. Instead devote some time to finding photos that tick the “attention grabbing” and “company image” boxes, to build up a bank of pictures for future use. I use the lightbox facility on iStock to bookmark suitable photos for my clients. This can then be shared with other team members too.
- Use more than one image. For some blogs it might be appropriate to include your attention grabbing image in the main body of your text, and a branded photo as a “Featured Image” for the post. The Featured Image will appear on your blog’s homepage and, depending on the design of your blog, it might appear across the top of your post. When sharing the link to your blog on social media you can choose which image you want to display; naturally the attention grabbing shot.
- Upload an alternative image to your social media. If you’re using Bufferapp or Hootsuite to manage your social media channels it’s easy to share both your link and an alternative image to illustrate your update. Similarly in Facebook it is possible to change the image that appears alongside your link, either by clicking the navigation arrows, or uploading a different picture altogether.
- Consider using different images for different social media channels. What someone engages with on Facebook could be quite different to what someone else likes on LinkedIn. If you are using several images in your blog post, perhaps a combination of conceptual images, product shots, graphs etc., you can experiment with what works best for each platform.
It’s worth experimenting with a variety of approaches to discover what really resonates with your target audience. Make sure you monitor your stats and see whether a particular type of image results in more click-throughs than others. Test different images on the same post to see which picture gets more traffic to your site, and review your photo strategy every 6 months to ensure your photo content is not letting your written content down.
What works for you? Do pictures of cute kittens drive more traffic to your site? I’ll be reporting back how successful this post was later…