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Do Images Increase Readership?

Posted by on Nov 9, 2009

There’s been some conversation I’ve been reading lately about the effectiveness of adding images into one’s blog posts. Many people think it’s absolutely essential to add an image of some kind to break up all the white space of a post. Others think that if the images don’t match the content then what’s the point.

I have to admit that I’ve always belonged to the latter. I’ve rarely added images to my posts unless I happened to be talking about something in particular. Mainly, it’s because it’s just one more time consuming thing to try to do when I could be doing something else, like internal linking or eating dessert.

I decided to try something new. For my next seven posts, I’m going to be posting an image. The image probably won’t have anything to do with anything I’m writing about, because, well, most of the time what I’m writing about doesn’t have an appropriate image. Of course, me being me, I’m doing something a little bit different than many of the other people.

Y’all should know by now that one of my affiliate programs is Imagekind. That image to the left underneath my two books is from their site. People put up pictures on that site to sell them as prints, framed or not. They have all sorts of different prices. It’s actually a pretty neat little deal. I’m not a photographer, but I know what I think looks pretty cool. So, every image, or at least every image unless I say differently, for the next 7 posts, which includes this one, is going to be from their site. If you click on the image, it’ll take you to their site, where you can purchase this image, or search around and find something you like. I’m going to be posting some images I thought were particularly cool.

I’m only doing this initially for 7 days. I want to see if images really do bring more traffic, drive traffic away, or has no effect whatsoever. Also, I’m hoping that someone at least clicks on a few pictures, and who knows, might even buy one. Not only me, but the people who created the pictures will probably be extremely elated.

Of course, I’m also going to have to tweak the sizes of these images from time to time, because I need to make sure they don’t overwhelm the page. This one fits right into the middle of the content. I’ll have to figure out if it should be at the very top of the content, where I see a lot of images, or maybe shrink it some and make it a part of the content in some way, like I usually do. What do you think about this one, if you’re inclined to share?

Anyway, enjoy the images; it might be a recurring thing later down the road, or it’s a 7 post experiment. Let’s see how it all goes.

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27 Comments »

Well, first of all, a picture is worth a 1000 words – so already there, you saved yourself a lot of typing 😀

Also, it makes your site/post look more interesting/attractive to visitors (including, I’d say, it shows readers that you put an effort into making your posts look attractive too instead of just pumping out well-written content).
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Twittley – A Digg-Like Twitter Community (Button Shuffle Colors) =-.

November 9th, 2009 | 10:12 AM
Mitch:

Interesting take, Klaus. Course, since I typed all that stuff, it didn’t save me one little bit. lol

November 9th, 2009 | 11:49 AM

I think the image should related to what the post is about. For example, if you are writing about money, a nice stock photo of money would work. There are some very inexpensive stock agencies where you can use their stock images for your blog.
.-= Scott Thomas´s last blog ..View 98: We are the Champions! =-.

November 9th, 2009 | 10:21 AM
Mitch:

Scott, I agree with your take on it, which is why I rarely have images. Most of my posts don’t have an image that fits the content. When there is something I’m specifically writing about where an image is readily available, I use it. But in general, I often don’t notice the images, and will skip right by them.

Still, it’s an experiment for the week.

November 9th, 2009 | 11:50 AM

Including an image alongside a blog post is what most people expect, specifically one that provides a visual representation of the message.

But not everyone adds an image as you point out, Mitch. Copywriter Bob Bly doesn’t include images on his blog, yet I find his topics valuable and don’t realize that there’s no image because I’m interested in his view on a topic.

That’s the same position I take here, Mitch. I never noticed that an image was not posted along with the content. Reading your opinion, to me, is more valuable than a picture.
.-= Shirley @ Solo Business Marketing´s last blog ..How Other Company’s Marketing Materials Aids Your Success =-.

November 9th, 2009 | 11:10 AM
Mitch:

Thanks Shirley; glad we’re in agreement on this one. Course, as I told Scott, I’m still going to use up the rest of the images I’ve already put aside. I kind of like them. 🙂

November 9th, 2009 | 11:51 AM

I think adding an image has everything to do with your subject matter. For instance, on my “babyboomerbev” blog, I have pics of my grandson because I do talk about him rather often. But to have a pic of him on my “boomerdivanation” site would be pointless because I don’t even talk about children there. Images can work but it didn’t in this particular post 🙂
.-= Beverly Mahone´s last blog ..Your First Job =-.

November 9th, 2009 | 6:15 PM
Mitch:

Thanks for the comment, Bev. Truth is, most blogs I visit that have images on every post have images that don’t have anything to do with the topic. And I actually understand that. If I’m talking about blogging, there’s just no picture of a blog, so there wouldn’t be anything I can add. Same goes for writing. Now, for me, after my experiment I’m going back to how I’ve done things beforehand. But for all those other people,… well, you saw the first comment I got on this post, so it proves that not everyone has the same thoughts about images.

November 9th, 2009 | 7:18 PM
Tim Manni:

Hey Mitch,

I’m of the belief that images unassociated with the article’s content don’t add anything. But I love how you’re interested in testing the theories, I think that’s smart.

In response to Scott: I’m sometimes turned off by stock photos. You can tell right away when a photo is a stock image. I think they only dilute a website’s originality.

I’m not saying images are bad at all, but as Shirley said, great content can make up for a lack of imagery. However, that’s not say that many sites could benefit from some images.

For bloggers or authors out there who are interested in breaking up or separating their content but pictures aren’t for them, try using subheads. They break up a story and allow your readers to scan your information more easily.

Mitch: That image of the cars from Cuba you posted along with your article was great…for some reason I can’t get that post out of my head. I guess it was because I always thought their cars were odd (just from seeing them in movies and such) but it was never really confirmed. The picture you included went great with that post.

Speaking of imagekind.com, check out these pictures of Venice if you’re interested: http://www.imagekind.com/GalleryProfile.aspx?gid=c5f1d4f6-01a7-4655-af0d-c8a27d2c48ee

Great post,
Tim

November 10th, 2009 | 1:35 PM
Mitch:

First, nice images Tim; thanks for sharing. I think Venice is fascinating, but since I don’t swim, I won’t be going there. lol

Second, I don’t really worry about breaking up my content, but on blogs where I see images, they’re not doing that either. I think what I’ve done with my second post with a nondescript image looks a lot better in placement than on this one, but, as you say, it still has nothing to do with the post itself. The one about the Cuban cars was pretty neat, I’d have to agree.

Still, it’s somewhat interesting in two ways so far. One, this post now has more comments than any other post this month, though it’s still early. Two, according to Feedreader, my readership has gone up 18 people in the last two days. Now, I’m not saying it’s the image per se, but… 😉

November 10th, 2009 | 5:40 PM
Mitch:

I did that, Dennis; I wouldn’t even entertain adding any of those images. Those aren’t pictures of blogging, so to speak; maybe I’m too literal there also.

As to the test, I think 7 posts is enough. After all, if pollsters can go to NYC and call 500 people to see how a population of 10 million will vote in a mayoral election, I think 7 posts out of 550 certain works well (at least my test is 1.2%, whereas NY’s test is only .005%).

Actually, I’d also challenge your assertion on the tests. I searched on Google and couldn’t find anything except a few people who speculated that it’s preferred, without any numbers to back them up. Now, this blog might not be representative of the masses, but so far it’s 4 to 2 against images, especially if they’re not related to the content.

November 10th, 2009 | 9:30 PM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

I don’t like unnecessary and unrelated images on any website.

It slows down loading the page and it is distracting.

If the image relates directly to what the post is about, then it adds to the content and that’s a good thing.

I’ve left many blogs and websites before a page could load because of huge images that had not been optimized for the web.

In most cases, unless the photo or other image relates directly to the writing, I don’t even look at it.

But, maybe I’m not your typical reader.

Act on your dream,

JD

November 11th, 2009 | 2:54 AM
Mitch:

No John, I think based on the numbers on this post you are the typical reader. The only thing not typical about you is that you have very slow internet speed, which helps to impede your getting to the images. I wonder if you had super fast speed like I have if that would make a difference as far as your staying with blogs, not necessarily whether you still pay attention to the images.

November 11th, 2009 | 3:00 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

Yes, my slow Internet connection is a major part of why I don’t like huge images that take a long time to load.

For example, I’ve looked at sites that I was highly motivated to see and had to let the page load in the background while I worked on other things. One notable example took over 20 minutes for the page to load.

I could have spent 10 minutes in Photoshop and modified that photo so that the page would have loaded in under a minute with no noticeable loss in quality for the average visitor.

I offered to do it for free, but was turned down flat.

Still, even when I go to the library and look at the Internet, I don’t like slow-loading pages, and they have a very fast connection.

I’m a very left-brained person, for the most part, and I like to read text. I’m not much interested in audio and video.

When I see a web page with an image that doesn’t immediately connect to the topic being discussed, it causes a mental disconnect and really detracts from the page.

People have told me that I need to add more images to my sites, and I’ve tested it here and there.

For example, I have a page started on Western North Carolina at:

http://www.ayearfromnow.com/western-north-carolina.html

Since I’m an Art.com affiliate, I looked for appropriate images that illustrated what I was talking about and from which I could earn a commission if it resulted in any purchases.

I don’t know if it helped that page get more visitors or improved their experience when reading it, or not. I haven’t seen any sales, yet, however.

I think that those of us who are predominately left brained just perceive the world differently than those who are predominately right brained.

Perhaps we tend to attract those who are similar to us.

People who prefer images go to sites with more images. People who prefer text go to those sites.

It’s okay. It’s a big world and there are lots of choices.

I’m sure most of my sites and blogs will be primarily text and that there will be lots of people who won’t like it, but that’s okay.

Even with a very fast Internet connection, I’m sure I’d be this way.

Act on your dream!

JD

November 11th, 2009 | 10:24 AM
Mitch:

John, the images you used on that blog work well. As you’ve seen, in my past, and my future, images I’ve used have gone with the content I was writing about. Overall, most of my content doesn’t really fit images all that well. Still, an experiment is an experiment, right?

November 11th, 2009 | 1:39 PM

I like adding images to my blog posts. Some people are very visual and need an image to get them to read further. I also think it just adds something to the site.
.-= Paula from Affiliate Blog Online´s last blog ..How We Tripled Our Blog Traffic =-.

November 11th, 2009 | 3:34 AM
Mitch:

Thanks Paula. Your vote is bringing the other side up around here. lol

November 11th, 2009 | 10:19 AM

Hi Mitch,
“I want to see if images really do bring more traffic…..”

I always thought that if images bring in more traffic it would be because they have been well optimized (alt text etc). Then again I learned from an SEO strategist(Nicolas P) that over-optimizing images could get you into trouble with Google. It seems that Google likes you to call a flower a flower and not something else (as in alt text). So I would be interested to know how your images increased your traffic.
.-= Peter @ Passive Income Ideas´s last blog ..Free Adsense Course-John “Xfactor’s” Micro Niche Adsense Course Creator =-.

November 11th, 2009 | 5:04 AM
Mitch:

Hi Peter,

You know, I never even thought about the alt tags for these images, probably because these are all linked to Imagekind and I didn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. Actually, Google mainly wants images on a site to tell what the article or site is about, and not extraneous stuff.

November 11th, 2009 | 10:21 AM

Yo Mitch! I do know for a fact that I get more traffic from images. Using alt=”” has gotten me number one ranking in google images for several of my niche sites and I can see the traffic results from my awstats showing google image search etc etc…

Sooo, I would say that more traffic would = more readers!

sooo, i guess depending on what you are trying to rank for then yes it can definitely increase traffic!
.-= Jake´s last blog ..My Birthday and Jake is Making His First Batch of Home Made Beer! =-.

November 11th, 2009 | 4:56 PM
Mitch:

Hi Jake,

I knew that Google could read alt tags, but from everything I’ve read, alt tags aren’t supposed to have much effect on SEO; I’m kind of surprised by that, I must admit. Still, I wonder why images work, if they do; freaky.

November 11th, 2009 | 11:56 PM

I could relate to what what Jake just said about the “alt” getting him no. 1 in his niche site. I have one niche site in which one of its 4 images I used now ranks on #4 for the keyword phrase I put as “alt text”. But I was comfortable with it because all my images on my niche sites are products so the image names are the product names too. I’m not familiar with how the image being link to “imagekind” will mean for seo and how it brings in the traffic. Perhaps it relies on the strength of the keyword “imagekind”?
.-= Peter @ Passive Income Ideas´s last blog ..How To Handle Negative Content In The Search Engines =-.

November 12th, 2009 | 6:12 AM
Mitch:

Thanks for your comment, Peter. It might have worked better if I’d put that alt tag on the image when I specifically wrote about Imagekind months ago; I just might go back and do that. I might even put it in the image on this site, just to see what happens. Then again, we have no PR, so it probably won’t do anything. lol

November 12th, 2009 | 8:37 AM

“Then again, we have no PR,…”

Hey Mitch you make it sound like PR is everything….it’s not. Anyway like I said I got Google page 1 #4 for a brand new niche site from the use of alt text about one month old. That niche site my friend is PR0…get it?
.-= Peter @ Passive Income Ideas´s last blog ..How To Handle Negative Content In The Search Engines =-.

November 12th, 2009 | 11:39 PM
Mitch:

Oh Peter, if you’ve been reading, you’ve seen me often say that PR doesn’t mean all that much to me. It does mean something to advertisers, though. As for the rest, well, this blog is still found in the top 20 for “book writing tips” most of the time, but for everything else, I really haven’t paid that much attention to it. But I’m getting more visitors from Google than ever before, so they’re seeing something I’m missing. And I’ll take it.

November 12th, 2009 | 11:57 PM
Val:

Aside from my artwork, the reason I put photos and imagery in my posts is to interest people who are drawn to imagery more than to writing because then, once the image has ‘hooked’ them, they then stay to read. And then they comment. And then, if they like what I say in my reply, they return again – often to read the posts that don’t have images! The same goes for putting text in a post that has an image. They become fasinated and come back… and, if I’m lucky, the comment and so on and on.

It is important, in my opinion, to have and image that ties in with what you’re writing. Or, if not (as in my ‘start here’ guide) to have a photo that gets the attention in another way, for instance, with a startling injection of humour. I posted a photo of a bread roll with the caption ‘my sad bread roll’ right in the middle of something to which it had absolutely no relevance because I knew it would startle people – and I like to keep my readers awake even on info pages!
.-= Val´s last blog ..Life goes on =-.

June 25th, 2010 | 9:52 AM
Mitch:

The experiment goes on, Val. Truthfully, my readership hasn’t increased at all since I’ve started this process, which makes me think overall that no one really cares all that much. However, knowing that I tend to write some long posts, it just seemed the thing to do to break up the length in some fashion, or at least make people “think” the posts were shorter. lol

June 25th, 2010 | 1:13 PM