One of the often neglected content best practices is the usage of eye catcher images. Everybody in print media does it for ages but on the Web most website owners fail at it. It’s really easy by now. Free images are widely available and can attract readers who otherwise would ignore you.
You know it from magazines. Why do you think most magazine covers show pretty young women smiling? No, it’s not just because women are predominantly buying them. Studies have shown that both women and men get attracted to beautiful females portraits.
Photographs of men have been far less successful but still performed better than image of things, landscapes or motifs. One of the blogs that uses images of people very successfully is Boost Blog Traffic:
While artsy black and white images work well in art galleries or on Ello it’s not what people in a hurry on the Web look for. Striking colors like red, green or blue stand out in the often dull daily grind of the Web. When you are looking for hours for useful material for your next task you are scanning faster and faster until some strong visual clues grabs your attention. Then you stop just long enough to check out the headline.
Just using a bloat of color doesn’t suffice. You need to show something people can distinguish when scanning large amounts of content on Pinterest and elsewhere. The image needs a main motif, ideally a person, as suggested above already and some contrasting background. When someone dressed in green gets pictured in front of a wood people won’t recognize much of course.
Use White Space
A lot of clutter makes not only a bad impression it literally fractures the attention of the viewer in so many directions at the same time that we don’t see anything at all at the end and move on. On my cycling blog I often deal with that issues.
Bike manufacturers send me photos of bikes in front of colorful walls or even whole cityscapes so that you can miss the bike altogether.
I can’t use such images at all in many cases. What I need is less distraction. You don’t have to edit everything and just show a white background. So called white space is just empty space for the eyes to rest. Make sure to provide it to highlight the main motif.
Don’t be Obvious
When you write about Google please don’t use a Google logo to “visualize” your topic. We see the Google logo dozens of times a day. Yes, we recognize it but we’re so used to it that we do not assign any importance to it anymore. Why should we interrupt our work to take a closer look at something we see all the time?
Show more by not showing something. Yes, you can hide part of the motif in order to intrigue. You can also show something that is on the verge of being abstract or an item that isn’t really matching the topic at first sight. We then wonder “what happens here” and take another look. One surefire way to intrigue people is to show them something they think they know but differently. Artists do it a lot. The Darth Vader Statue of Liberty mix is a perfect example of this technique.
Don’t Use Text Inside Images
Many bloggers add the headline or topic of their post to the header or eye-catcher image. That may work in some instances but why would someone pin it on Pinterest for example? Also the text often distracts from the main message of the picture. Text images or quotes work well on Pinterest when the aphorism is meaningful by itself. A headline that doesn’t explain anything on its own won’t work.
In many industries and for many topics there are no accurate or attractive images. You can’t show much when dealing with technology for example. Showing code snippets, screen shots or other workarounds will only get you so far. The best alternative in my experience is the metaphor, as long as it’s fresh and not a cliché already. When dealing with links (hyperlinks) for example you can show people holding hands instead of the obvious chain links.
Check Other Resources
- Photos as Web Content
- A Complete Guide to Visual Content
- 5 Ways to Make Shareable Images That Drive Traffic
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Blog Images
- Make your products the star – The art of getting product images that really sell
- How to Use Images in Your Link Building Campaigns
- Pinterest Optimization What Tactics, Topics and Media Formats Get Shares
- 8 Sites For Free Stock Photos That Don’t Look Like Free Stock Photos
- 12 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Free Stock Photos
- 18 Sites with Beautiful Free Stock Photos
* Creative Commons image by João Paulo Corrêa de Carvalho
** Creative Commons image by binu kumar
*** Creative Commons image by Star Wars