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Blogging Tips – To Image Or Imagine

Posted by on Jul 24, 2012

There’s an interesting debate in the blogging world on whether blog posts should have images or not. Some people believe that every single blog post should have an image. Some people believe that there shouldn’t be an image on a blog post that doesn’t go with whatever the post is about. Some people believe that images are for the weak minded and that people should be able to visualize whatever you’re talking about based on their words.

when all else fails,
cake saves the day πŸ˜‰

My response to all of this? It depends; yeah, that looks wishy washy, but stick with me and I’ll explain myself.

Y’all know I have 5 blogs. On this blog for the past couple of years I’ve had at least one image in almost every single post. The exceptions have been when I’ve had videos in the posts instead. I’ve done what I could to make sure the image is pertinent to what I’ve been writing about, but it’s not always easy.

On my business blogs, it’s rare that I have images. On one I talk about the topic of leadership most of the time. Truthfully, there aren’t a lot of pictures that pertain to leadership. Well, I could have pictures of military people all the time, but that wouldn’t quite work out all the time. So I pick and choose when I’m going to have a picture. It works well in that space, but it’s not quite visually stimulating. The same for my SEO/social media blog; since I’m not a creative guy when it comes to things like that most of the posts don’t have any kind of image at all.

So, the response to whether one needs an image or not is answered that way. The other question is, if you’re going to have an image, does it always have to pertain to the topic. The response… it depends. Notice a theme?

This blog is about anything I want it to be, even if lately I’ve been talking about blogging. I like having at least one image for every post, but since there aren’t many images concerning blogging it means I either have to figure out a way to be really creative or just pick something that I think looks pretty cool. That’s what I’ve been doing with this series. Also, for long blog posts, which happens more often on this blog than any of my other blogs, having images throughout the post helps break up all the text, no matter what those images portray.

Could I do that with my business blogs? I could, but I’ve decided not to since in those spaces I’m trying to educate or inform most of the time. That and the articles are shorter.

However, there’s one last thing I’d like to bring up. Some weeks ago I talked about Google Plus as a viable social media option. One of the best things about Google+ is that if you post a link and there are images, they’ll show up in the space, and it makes the posting look kind of cool. Links without an image look bland, as opposed to seeing those types of links on Twitter, and I’ve noticed that fewer people look at those posts, not just mine but those of others. So, even if the image doesn’t seem to be pertinent, if it’s a good image people will tend to at least look at your post on Google+. As a new player in the game, suddenly it makes images a big deal. Now, because I do have a profile picture on each blog, I still get to post my articles there because at least it’s a picture, even if some people get sick of my face. πŸ™‚

When all is said and done, each person should decide how pictures work for them in their content. Think about your posts; how do you use images, if you do?

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Not surprisingly, I use images! πŸ™‚ But there have been times in the past – not in my current blog, obviously – when having an image at all just didn’t seem suitable, so I left the post without any. I think talking about stuff that’s serious, stuff that’s a rant, stuff that’s about loss – it’s just not needed.

Mostly, imo, images are there to make sure that the majority of people reading or viewing a post have something they can connect with. Some people are more visual, some engage more with just words. Using an image in a post brings the best of both worlds to ones readers.
Val recently posted…Hang Drums and can you read, see, play music?My Profile

July 24th, 2012 | 6:13 PM

Great stuff Val, and I’m with you on this one. I do that with my other blogs, but on this one and my local blog I like to have some kind of image. This one because sometimes my posts are a bit long and thus an image seems to change it up some, and my local blog because I talk about local things and like to highlight them with images.

July 25th, 2012 | 9:43 AM
Anton Koekemoer:

Hi Mitch,

Personally – When viewing a snippet or a summary on a home page having an image that correlates well on your topic is great for increasing the interest amongst users. Not to mention the SEO advantages that having a well optimized image (with keywords etc.) is great for increasing the exposure and value of your post. Not to mention that users overall in general responds better to visual stimulation than just plain text should make the decision an easier one to make.

July 25th, 2012 | 4:49 AM

Good stuff Anton, but I have to admit that I rarely take advantage of SEO opportunities by filling in the “alt” area of my images on the blog. One of these days I’ll have to ask myself why.

July 25th, 2012 | 9:47 AM

Hi Mitchell,

This is Sanjib. Images do add to our imagination but they need not become our food for thought. Images compliment our thoughts at times. Relevance is more important when we write articles and based on the topic we choose we can add a visual aid which makes sense.

Sanjib Kumar Saha
Sanjib Kumar Saha recently posted…Tutorial: How to Upgrade Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 to Android 4.1 Jelly BeanMy Profile

July 25th, 2012 | 5:31 AM

Great statement Sanjib. Kind of like reading fictional books, where each of us gets to picture in our minds what someone will look like rather than seeing an image and needing that to help us focus.

July 25th, 2012 | 9:48 AM

I totally concur with you. It depends on the nature of the blog. After all, Google is not really that too much interested with pictures on your posts.
Marie recently posted…adorable infant costumesMy Profile

July 25th, 2012 | 7:12 AM

True Marie, although hopefully not all of us are doing something because Google likes or doesn’t like it.

July 25th, 2012 | 9:48 AM

I also think that it depends, but it is recommended to have image on every post, for some niche,even a gallery in single blog post is necessity. We are discussion many times what quality content is, well images in posts make content a bit higher quality.

July 25th, 2012 | 8:33 AM

Carl, I’d agree with that for some niches. If one is selling stuff, absolutely.

July 25th, 2012 | 9:49 AM

Absolute fact, quality images sale much easier. Recently I see trend that images also get back up with videos which also can be excellent selling point. As well one image doesn’t need translation.
Carl recently posted…Achieve greater visibility with the right SEO services companyMy Profile

July 25th, 2012 | 10:50 PM

Interesting point Carl. Most of the time if I have a video on the post I don’t add an image. But saying images don’t need translation… now that’s one I’ll have to think about for awhile.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:46 AM

Hi Mitch,
I think it is not for nothing that they say : A picture is worth a thousand words. I like blog posts that provide visual as well as intellectual stimulation. I have no idea how the images affect SEO, it might improve it or not depending on how Google indexes it.
Mariella Lombardi recently posted…US Marine Replaces TRX Destroyed By a Roadside Bomb – The Benefits of Using the TRX Suspension Training!My Profile

July 25th, 2012 | 1:52 PM

Thanks for your comment Mariella. The way it can affect SEO is if one adds what’s known as “alt” tags and then puts something in them, which I tend to forget most of the time.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:44 AM

I think that an inspiring picture which fits to the content could make the post more good-looking and in some cases an image could give some inspiration itself as well.
Helene recently posted…Is a tooth implant luxury?My Profile

July 25th, 2012 | 3:43 PM

Interesting thought Helene. I think it depends on the blog type. Motivational blogs with images works great; legal blogs, not so much. lol

July 26th, 2012 | 9:45 AM

I think it’s totally OK to not use pictures. But in this case, your layout needs to hold up. If a blog is picture-free, I expect it to be nicely designed so the eye is not being tired by brutal colors.

July 26th, 2012 | 3:40 AM

True Holzprofi, something has to keep a visitor’s attention, although one would hope that the content would be compelling enough to take care of some of that.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:48 AM

Images are extremely useful to grab the attention of social indexed pages, search results etc. It can improve the stickiness of the blog and if you link the previous/next/featured/popular posts using images from page where the visitors landed, you are bound to get more reading and page views. As for product review posts, anyhow images and videos are must while not so the case with rants.
Ajith Prasad Edassery recently posted…Renault Duster India – Road Test and ReviewMy Profile

July 26th, 2012 | 5:02 AM

Interesting thought Ajith. You don’t see a lot of images showing up in search results, and those that do show up with a picture of the author nowadays, which is pretty neat. I’m not sure if I noticed a direct correlation when I first started adding images to this blog and traffic, or page views; wish I’d been paying more attention to that. I just felt like the visuals helped in a way and thus decided to go that route.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:51 AM

A very interesting post Mitch. I believe related images are very important in blog posts, but then again I would as I am a photographer and my blog is about photography.

The internet for many people is very much a visual experience and images can say so much. Additionally, I consider that images add value both to the reader / viewer and with regard to SEO providing of course that they are correctly set up with keyword alt and title tags.

However, I also agree with Val’s point regarding certain topics were including an image would just be totally inappropriate.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Phil recently posted…The Creative ProcessMy Profile

July 26th, 2012 | 3:01 PM

Thanks for your thoughts Phil. You’re right, it is a visual place, and that’s why images can work wonders at times, and at other times they could destroy the mood if they don’t quite match up with the content. Of course, if I were a photographer like you I’d have tons of images and be feeling pretty good about images.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:17 PM
Alan | Life's Too Good:

Hey Mitch,

another interesting subject and one I struggle with myself.

I have often wondered about whether to just go totally simple and minimalist and remove all images, just having the articles I write on my site.

I do think that images add something though if well chosen.

That last part is the difficult bit – if well chosen. Usually writing is no problem for me – it flows and comes quite naturally – I no longer have to worry about coming up with ideas or actually writing what I want to say – but finding an appropriate image for the post?

oh man…

so I don’t have an answer but it’s certainly an interesting topic and I agree with you … it depends…

in my case I’m sticking with them for now, but always wondering.

July 26th, 2012 | 5:26 PM

Thanks for sharing Alan; you’re just where I am most times. I love having images on this blog, but about 60% of the time it’s hard figuring out what can go with it. On my business blogs it always happens, and I’m never quite sure what to do, so I leave them out. It’s too bad because I’d love to have an image on everything.

July 26th, 2012 | 9:22 PM

Do use images! There are some great plug-ins to help you find free use images to insert into your post, so it requires virtually no effort. I use zemanta for wordpress. You do have a point with certain topics generating a pretty dry selection of imagery, but pulling out statistics and showcasing big bright numbers can be a good replacement for images.

July 26th, 2012 | 7:31 PM

I have used that on a couple of posts, but since I’m not a graphic artist either those things aren’t quite my style either. Man, to have a different talent sometimes. πŸ™‚

July 26th, 2012 | 9:19 PM
Allan Douglas:

I do use images, but sparingly. Well, sometimes. If I’m trying to teach folks how to pressure cook an Aardvark roast them photos help a lot. But generally I’ll use one photo to lead the article and make it relevant and catchy. As you say, links with a thumbnail are more attractive than a plain text link, and since Google Plus, Facebook and LinkedIn all use a photo if it’s available it seems lax of us not to provide one. Besides, properly keyworded, a photo gives you a nice SEO boost.

July 26th, 2012 | 8:43 PM

Aardvark roast; now that’s a new one. lol I think you had a picture of pizza when you wrote about pizza; that’s what I’m talking about. True Allan, when we can relate a picture, it’s pretty cool and I think it helps people focus on what they’re reading. In this particular post, I’m not sure what the cake is doing for me. lol

July 26th, 2012 | 9:32 PM

There are people who think images are for the weak minded? Really? Gee, I reckon i’ve got big problems then πŸ˜€ Lucky for me I don’t give a hoot what such people think πŸ˜‰
Sire recently posted…The Ramblings Of A Professional BloggerMy Profile

July 28th, 2012 | 9:49 AM

Yeah Sire, I’ve seen it written on a couple of blog posts here and there. It’s not criticism aimed at the writer, but at visitors; why would anyone want to antagonize visitors to their blogs that way?

July 28th, 2012 | 9:00 PM

The word stupid comes to mind Mitch.
Sire recently posted…Friday Funnies #24 The Irish Orgasm And Nina The VentriloquistMy Profile

July 28th, 2012 | 10:00 PM

LOL! Tell it like it is!

July 28th, 2012 | 10:13 PM

Yep, short and sweet. Which brings my comment system to mind. Do you think that twenty words is too much to ask for a comment? If so what limit would you recommend?
Sire recently posted…How To Boost Your Twitter Followers FaceBook Likes etc.My Profile

July 28th, 2012 | 10:20 PM

For the most part 20 words seems to be fair to ask for, but then you have your Friday Funnies and, well, coming up with 20 words on a post like that isn’t easy to do, so I skip commenting on them most of the time. And if someone’s responding quickly to your response back to their original comment expecting another 20 words all the time is tough as well. For instance, in one of your previous responses to me you only had 7 words; if I was using your plugin you’d have had to figure out 13 more words to say when you’d actually said all that was needed. That’s why it’s hard to recommend a word count, which is why I think that’s one of those tasks that’s better handled live by you, if you know what I mean.

July 28th, 2012 | 10:51 PM
Sue Bride:

I always use images for SEO reasons. I believe Google likes them plus the alt tags and titles add valuable keywords. I have got so used to adding them that a post looks bare to me if I don’t. One disadvantage is the extra time they take up when writing posts. I would probably write more regularly if they were quicker to produce. More regular posting is probably more valuable for SEO than adding images to everything.
Sue Bride recently posted…Internet Marketing News RoundupMy Profile

July 29th, 2012 | 5:42 PM

Sue, think about this CompFight plugin that was recommended by someone else earlier. I like that bad boy now, and it helps speed things up drastically. As for their SEO benefits, I think it works better on websites than on blogs, but I don’t have any stats regarding that one.

July 29th, 2012 | 9:03 PM

Based on memory research, the human capacity for remembering images is essentially limitless. Blogs without images are like cake without . . . cake, Mitch. I use photos with LinkedWithin to get readers to click on other articles.
Astro Gremlin recently posted…Beautiful Piano Music: Grande Tarantelle by Louis Moreau GottschalkMy Profile

August 4th, 2012 | 1:49 AM

Interesting Astro (interesting nom d’emprunt there). Does it work if you write about something where an image doesn’t quite fit? By that, I mean they might remember the image but nothing about the post; is that acceptable?

August 4th, 2012 | 1:56 AM

Hi Mitch,
I personally value images in an article apart from the fact that Google rates articles that have images. It holds the audience attention and it is something that they will remember easily.

August 10th, 2012 | 9:43 AM

Hi Elizabeth,

You know, people keep saying that about images being rated by Google, and I keep wondering where they’re getting it from. Google does find images yes, but I doubt even using the Alt tag in images helps most websites with their SEO initiatives. Still, images can be visually helpful to readers, I’d agree.

August 11th, 2012 | 11:52 AM

I have found that having an image in each post definitely does make it more readable and, just as or even more importantly, more likely to be read. (It doesn’t matter how brilliant your posts are if no one reads them.)
Alan recently posted…Let’s Protect OceansMy Profile

August 10th, 2012 | 11:20 AM

True Alan, but I’ll ask you as I’ve asked some other people, if the content doesn’t match up with anything specific does any old image, like the one I put on this post, work?

August 11th, 2012 | 12:02 PM

I just started a blog, and am of two minds on images. I post a new type of fiction I write on the site, and for it I usually want to believe that my words can convey images to the reader. However, when I’m talking about current events or even ideas, images help accentuate the point. I guess images serve a purpose of enhancement for me, they shouldn’t be more than that unless they are the supreme focus of the article.
Jack Holder recently posted…Diary of an Unemployed Wanderer, part 1My Profile

August 13th, 2012 | 10:01 AM

Thanks for your comment Jack. It’s interesting seeing how people view images in blogging because years ago it wasn’t even in the conversation. Being from a time when we read lots of books so that our imaginations could go wild, the idea that it takes someone seeing an image to help stimulate their imagination is anathema to me in a way. I love images but have you ever noticed how sometimes an image will destroy what you imagined something would be?

Still, I obviously go both ways, as on some blogs I have lots of images and others I have none or very few. I like that about myself; people will never know what I’m going to do for sure. lol

August 13th, 2012 | 10:25 AM