Adam Singer works for TopRank Online Marketing, a search engine optimization and digital marketing firm trusted by Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. and Canada, and blogs on marketing, media and PR at The Future Buzz.
Blogs are evolving, and fast. Long gone are the days when pure link blogs reined king of the web.
Today popular, authoritative blogs are made up of deep content, written by those passionate and knowledgeable about specific niches. And as content gets more intricate and authors spend more time honing their craft, they want to put in that extra effort to make their material stand out. One of the best ways to do this is through the use of compelling imagery to reinforce strong writing.
In fact, if you looked at the most popular blogs in topics such as marketing, technology, or business – some of the hottest niches in the blogosphere – you‘d see an overwhelming majority using images in their posts.
In a landscape where everyday marks a cutthroat battle for attention, images are becoming as essential as text to professional bloggers, web publishers and businesses alike.
Some of the reasons images are so vital to modern blogs:
Content moves through the social web lightning-fast
With services like Twitter and FriendFeed churning content at ever-quickening paces, users are navigating rivers made up mostly of text. The problem is text is easily glossed over, especially for those who skim content instead of reading it. Strong imagery is something that can‘t be ignored. It‘s what pulls readers out of their RSS-induced trance and helps them focus. When the content matches the quality of the image, the producer of that material gets the most valued asset of all: focused attention, and in turn, subscriber conversions.
Images are a signal to visitors that a site‘s material is premium
We‘ve come to expect that high quality web publishers will use images along with their text. Unconsciously, we elevate the worth of a site that has images mixed in with stories. Of course, a site with great content can stand on its own, but when coupled with images, it creates a synergy, encouraging shares, Tweets and Stumbles.
Strategic imagery helps bloggers build their brand
A blogger can consistently use imagery associated with their niche to create something that text alone cannot – a visual association tagged to their brand. If a blogger finds a style of imagery that accents their work -- for example, a technology blogger who enjoys using long-exposure photography -- that imagery can help them build a stylish brand associated with their site. Users will form a positive association not just with the blogger behind the site, but come to expect a complementary look and feel accompanying the posts. Giving visitors even one more good reason to come back to a blog is worth the effort, as the landscape is ultra-competitive.
Images are mood setters
Even before reading a blog post, internalizing the image which comes before it puts readers in a new state of mind. Using a well-chosen image is the ultimate mood setter for content and helps writers tell their stories better by putting readers in the right mindset to fully engage with the words that follow.
A precursor to the inspiration that happens from effective copy
Everyone knows good imagery is an inspiration by itself. Bloggers who can inspire readers even before they get into the first paragraph are already positioned ahead of their competition to make the largest impact. If two blogs had similar material, but one used effective imagery, that extra bit of inspiration could push users over the edge to favor one site over the other.
Images help bloggers create viral content
Anecdotally, I notice a great percentage of the articles that go viral in social media use images. Users can‘t resist sharing ideas coupled with images that help tell the story – it‘s something that dates back to the days long before the web, and is only set on fire by social content sharing tools. From experience, I can say that the images I use on my blog are elements that only contribute to reaching a tipping point on sites like Digg and Twitter.
So the next time you publish a blog post, don‘t forget to add that perfect image.