Images are an integral part of any website. They’re particularly valuable to bloggers and online entrepreneurs who sell products or services from their website. But how can bloggers find the best images that are right for their blog?
However, unless you’re a photographer, it can be difficult to find fresh images that don’t look like the standard cheesy stock images you see everywhere. Theres a lot to adapting images to make sure they don’t slow down your website. Images can also be really helpful for search engine optimisation, if you know what you’re doing.
In this blog post, I share my tips for success in using images in blogs and websites in 2023.
- FAQs about Images
- Why should bloggers use images in blog posts?
- Why speed is so important for images on blogs and websites
- How images improve SEO and increase social media traffic
- Step by step guide how to add images to blog posts
- Which are the best stock image membership sites for blogs?
- Where can bloggers get free stock photos?
- Final thoughts
Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. This means I may get a small commission if you buy something after clicking through.
FAQs about Images
Before we get into the detail, here are the post popular questions about images. I also explain the key techie terms you’ll see time and time again when it comes to images. The questions are in the same order as the words appear in this blog post.
Why should bloggers use images in blog posts?
Quite simply, research shows that blogs and any content on websites gets better results when visual images (and videos) are used. In fact, according to Orbit Media, bloggers who use 7 or more images per post are 2.3 times more likely to report “strong results”.
Why do blogs get better results if they use images?
Firstly, images improve the user experience. Instead of being faced with a wall of text, there are points of interest for the eye to land on. They break up the text, and can transform your content from bland to exciting. This is particularly important for capturing the attention of visual thinkers, and drawing them into your content.
However, it’s not just a case of inserting random pretty photos. Each image must be there for a reason and add something to your content.
Images are also great for SEO, as the Alt Texts and captions can include key words. Be careful not to overdo it though. The purpose of Alt Text is to help people using screen readers. However, it’s also important for the Alt Text to be representative of the image.
Over half of worldwide website traffic now comes from mobile phones. This is true for the UK as well with StatCounter estimating the June 2023 percentage of web traffic on mobiles in the UK to be 53%. It will be higher for those blogs and websites that see traffic from Instagram and Pinterest.
The problem with mobiles though, is that if they’re not on wifi, the pages can take a while to load.
According to Google, over half of visits to a website will be abandoned if the page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Also, half of people expect a page to load in under 2 seconds. In fact, a similar number say that waiting for pages to load is the worst thing about using a mobile to search on the internet.
The number of people using their mobile phones to search google and read blogs is only going to rise.
This is why it’s really important to have a website theme (like the Astra theme) that is optimised for mobile phones. This will also help make sure images don’t take an age to load.
Images are really helpful in enhancing search engine optimisation, because of ability of adding keywords to the Alt Text. They also help make the content more readable, by adding interest, which means people stay longer on the page. This helps SEO as Google will see that people stay longer on the page, which tells it that this content is useful. It’s a virtuous circle.
Having images is crucial for bringing traffic to your website from apps like Pinterest. Access to good quality photos really helps pins stand out. It’s also very worthwhile choosing images with colours and tones that go with your brand, to make for an aesthetically pleasing page.
Step by step guide how to add images to blog posts
Here’s a guide to each step of adding images to your blog posts that will look good, are optimised for the search engines, and won’t take ages to load on mobile phones:
1. Choose consistent aspect ratios
It’s an important from a design point of view for a website to look cohesive and consistent. One thing that can spoil this is when images are uploaded that are any old size. It looks better to have some consistency.
Having consistent aspect ratios make a website look professional. On The Web Smith I use 16:9 as my preferred horizontal ratio, as that works well on mobile phones. For Pinterest pins, I use the standard 2:3 aspect ratio . I occasionally use square images (1:1).
People do use a variety of aspect ratios on their websites, and a lot comes down to personal preference. The important thing is to be consistent if you’d like to give your blog or website that professional polish.
With the recent WordPress 6.3 update, it’s a lot easier to have consistent aspect ratios, as you can set this in the Block Editor. Find out more here: The 7 best features of WordPress 6.3.
2. Resize your images for speed before you upload them
In order to help your page load as quickly as possible, it’s important to resize your image before you get anywhere near uploading it onto your website. You definitely shouldn’t upload them as they come from your stock image company or even your mobile pohone. That will be too large.
- 16:9 landscape images: 1200 x 675 pixels as it’s as it’s smaller than 1920 x 1080.
- Pinterest 2:3 pins: 1000 x 1500 pixels so I don’t need to resize for Pinterest.
- 1:1 Square images: 1080 x 1080 pixels so I can reuse them as Instagram posts without resizing them.
3. Why it’s better to save images as jpeg not PNG files for websites
It is better to save images as jpeg files if you are going to upload them onto your website. This is because JPEG’s smaller, compressed file size makes it faster to load. PNG files are bigger, and should usually be avoided.
The only exception is where you need a transparent image (no background). For instance, for a logo or an icon where you don’t want a background.
4. Upload your images into the Media Library
The next stage is to upload your images to the Media Library. Don’t add them do check the title has a useful name, with a keyword, instead of IMG_2033 or such like. It all helps the SEO. Also, it’ll be easy to find when you come to search for it later (you might want to use the same photo in another blog post).
If you upload two versions of the same image, do delete one. There’s no point having too.
finally, I have my host SiteGround set up so that all images are compressed automatically for free. I might changethe setting for larger photos, You can do this in the Media Library.
You might also decide to use a specific plugin to compress and manage your images.
5. Add Alt Text
Alt Text is very important for the reasons discussed above. It’s easy to add alt text when you upload the image into the media library. That way you know that all images you insert will already have their alt text added.
6. Insert into blog post or page
Finally, when you’re ready to insert the image ont the page, most of the work is already done. I personally modify the settings so that the Image block shows as Align Centre and Fulls Size, 75% for the 1200 x 675 horizontal images and 50% for the 1500 x 1000 pixel vertical Pinterest pins.
This means the pictures aren’t too big either for mobile phones or laptops.
Which are the best stock image membership sites for blogs?
The answer to this question is “it depends”, as it very much depends on the niche of the blog, the branding, and the target audience.
My blog The Independent Landlord has a target audience of landlords and property professionals. They are split roughly evenly between the sexes and the ages of my subscribers range from 30 – 80 years old, at a guess! I use a mixture of my own images and the stock images bundled as part of my Canva Pro subscription.
However, my target audience for The Web Smith is largely female entrepreneurs who have a blog or a website for an online business. I went to the effort of commissioning a professional logo and colour palette from Be Brave Branding. It has a very feminine and approachable vibe, and I wanted to have images on the blog that complemented the branding.
Although I aim to use more of my own images in the future, I decided to take out two subscriptions to give me a wide range of photos, which are properly licensed. Both offer more than “just” stock images, and provide a huge number of added benefits for members. Having memberships for stock photos that fit with my branding means I save a lot of time when looking for the perfect image. It also means the website doesn’t look the same as everyone else.
As I’m so pleased with my memberships, and I’m sharing the details with you below.
Ivory Mix offers a very good value subscription service of high quality, inclusive stock photos suitable for a large range of niches, from family and friends to business, wellness and travel. There are over 10,000 images and Canva templates for Female Owned Businesses and Content Creators. They add over 100 new images and 30 new graphic templates and Pinterest Pins each month.
The VIP Membership bundles together stock images with training courses from Ivory Mix’s Audience Growth Academy courses, as well as the Canva mockups and Pinterest and Instagram templates that you would expect.
Styled Stock Society
Styled Stock Society has over 8,000 stock photos, 2,000+ Canva Templates, with new content every month. The monthly Pinterest templates are particularly good and make it easy for me to produce the range of different pins you see on this website.
It’s more expensive than Ivory Mix, but I find I end up using more images from Styled Stock Society than Ivory Mix. The female-centred images are highly inclusive as they use models of different ages, body shapes and ethnicities.
You can download 25 free photos as a “taster” by clicking here: Styled Stock Society 25 Free Photo Bundle for Female Entrepreneur.
Where can bloggers get free stock photos?
Here are two popular places to get free stock photos for websites:
Although you can use the images in your blog and in advertising, you can’t resell RawPixel content. This means, for instance, you can’t use their free images on printables you sell. .
RawPixel offer their images with a CCO licence, which means the creator of the work has permanently released their rights to the copyright, as part of a free culture initiative. To quote the CCO: “the public can reliably and without fear of later claims of infringement build upon, modify, incorporate in other works, reuse and redistribute as freely as possible in any form whatsoever and for any purposes”, including without limitation commercial purposes”.
If you don’t want to have to attribute the image, RawPixel offer a Premium Membership. This gives access to a wider range of images. Also, no attribution is required. However, even the images on a Premium Plan must not be included in something that is being resold.
However, the popularity of Unsplash comes at a cost. Unsplash is such a fantastic service for new bloggers and content creators, who might not have the budget to pay for images, they’re all over the internet.
Also, buried in Unsplash’s terms and conditions is an exclusion of liability disclaimer which states, in capitals:
WE PROVIDE THE SERVICE, AND ALL CONTENT THAT’S AVAILABLE THROUGH THE SERVICE, ON AN “AS-IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE” BASIS, WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW.
This means that users of Unsplash have less legal protection than those of RawPixel. RawPixel don’t guarantee that you can use the image without infringing someone else’s copyright.
This means that if someone uploaded an image onto Unsplash without having the right to do so, the owner of the copyright in the image could sue you for breach of copyright. For more information, read this blog post from JumpStory. And do take a screenshot when you download photos so you can show that you were told when you downloaded them that the images were free to use, without a licence.
The use of images has the power to transform a website in both a positive or a negative way. Unless we’re photographers or have access to a steady stream of images from brands, we are left with sourcing stock images.
Using photos downloaded from the internet is not an option for a blogger, unless of course the blogger obtains a licence.
The free sources of stock images have significant drawbacks in terms of limitations on use, range or a requirement to acknowledge the source.
If you’re going to use a lot of stock images and don’t want to look like every other website, it’s best to take out a subscription and not worry about breaching copyright. It’s the policy I’ve adopted for The Web Smith.