“People are visual”
“Pictures are worth a thousand words”
According to blogging writer Jeff Bullas, “Articles with images get 94% more total views”.
The internet is replete with stats and information on how and why you should use photographs for your blog posts: It’s good for SEO, it pushes up the post in social media standings and more. I will let you search “why are photographs important on blogs” if you want to know more about the whys and wherefores. For the purposes of this post, let’s just assume that in fact images are essential in blogging. What’s next?
Naming and Descriptions
Make sure you name your image something relevant to the keywords you have selected for your post. Most images are automatically saved with names like IMG_145.JPG. You can rename it to be more relevant and therefore searchable.
When uploading your image to your blogging platform, make sure that you fill in both Alt Text and Description.
What is ALT Text? This description of the image is what appears when the image won’t come up for a viewer – perhaps they have turned off images or are using software for the visually impaired. It can also be useful for search engine bots to determine what the image is, since those cannot actually ‘see’ it. It’s also used in SEO, so it’s important to tag in the keywords that are relevant to the post without using too much.
Example from Google on an image of a dalmatian puppy playing fetch:
“Not so good: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=””/>
Better: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”puppy”/>
Best: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”Dalmatian puppy playing fetch”>
To be avoided: <img src=”puppy.jpg” alt=”puppy dog baby dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food”/>
Filling alt attributes with keywords (“keyword stuffing“) results in a negative user experience, and may cause your site to be perceived as spam. Instead, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”
Why you should fill in the description on your photography upload?
The value in the description is largely for search engine optimization so it’s important that your most relevant keywords are there as well.
Can you ever use an image without permission from the copyright owner?
Short answer? No.
Long answer? Definitely not.
So what are your options?
Buy stock photography
Set aside some funds in your budget to purchase royalty free stock photography from places like www.bigstockphoto.com or others like it (and this is a relatively inexpensive option as opposed to being sued).
Find images that are in the public domain and therefore royalty-free
In Canada, images taken before 1949 are in the public domain – they may not make particularly compelling images for your blog, however!
Find images that have a Creative Commons license
www.Flickr.com is ideal for finding those types of images. Scrolling through endless images can be daunting however, particularly since so many of the photographs are not very high quality. The advanced search is useful but even better is www.PhotoPin.com : a site that allows you to search through Flickr images more accurately and by license (commercial or non-commercial use).
Take your own pictures
Purely from a marketing perspective for your business, using images that actually belong to you makes perfect sense and is most practical alternative. Depending on what you are using the images for, you might want to invest in some professional product / head shots that are static on your site.
What will happen if you do use an image without permission? In all likelihood, not much. Unless you get caught. Roni Loren wrote this post on the BlogHer site that will give you some insight into what can happen if you do get caught – while her post doesn’t refer to Canadian copyright law specifically, it’s a compelling example of why you want to be careful with your image selections.