You are about to finish the blog post that you believe will be a blast (well, good luck with that), but you have this question that no one can give you a right answer: how many images should you use in it?
Even if you are aware of the 10x content that Rand’s preaching about or you read all of Content Marketing Institute’s, Chris Brogan’s and Buffer’s articles about how to craft compelling content, I believe that you still don’t know how many images to use in a blog post.
Or, if you were lucky enough, you attend on a CMI World Conference where you have the chance to listen all the great speakers and talk with bloggers about how to build a great blog for your company, but everybody will answer with the same question: it depends.
Well, my friend, this is the right answer for this question – it depends.
Because content marketing and blogging it’s not only about a good algorithm that you can use to create a viral article, it’s also about the context, the human touch and less but not least, the marketing behind it.
In this article I want to help you find the right explanation for how many visuals should you use in a blog post.
First of all, let’s look at your project and see what kind of article you just wrote. Because a blog post differentiates from another in 2 aspects: the purpose and the type.
Choose one of the following types of article you just wrote:
- A compelling 4000 steps guide that responds to a general question in your niche.
- It’s an opinion (or rant) about a certain topic you were interested in lately.
- You review a product/ service.
- Just finished your 182 listicles article (an expert round-up or the top restaurants where a student can eat).
- It’s a case study where you explain something.
- You just interviewed your role model or a specialists in a certain industry
- Finally, you finished your research after 6 months and 3 weeks and now you can publish it.
- A simple idea written down in 2 or maximum 3 sentences (something what Seth Godin is doing with his blogging style).
Or it’s something else and I didn’t mention in this list.
After you look at your blog post and you already know which is it’s goal (check out my Slideshare presentation about 8 different blogging goals to help grow your blog) we should move forward and get into the visual section.
Visual Marketing took an important role in blogging.
According to Mike Parkinson:
The human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process.
That means that if we want to engage better with our audience using our blog, we also must show them something rather than explaining it.
If 51% of these marketers say that creating a visual content is a priority that they will focus on, it seems like the visual part of your blog should be very important.
But if a blog post has a purpose, that means that also everything in it has a purpose, right? Or at least, it should be.
That means that every word put there has a purpose, the title has it own purpose and the links you used to backup your idea, right? So, the images should also have a purpose then.
What’s the purpose of an image in a blog post?
You can’t just use any image you want to upload. It must be relevant, showing the exact thing the reader intents to see next and stand close to the context.
I read blog posts almost every day. Sometimes I love to go deep in long form articles and sometimes I like to read a simple but very interesting opinion about a topic or an idea.
I often find out that the visuals that appear in those articles have a certain goal:
1. To explain a concept or a process
These are the visuals that are most used as a screenshot. Think about what Brian Dean is doing in his blogging process. He is writing articles where he shows his community step by step the process on how he got the results he wanted. Take a look at this article and just do a simple scroll through it.
You will see a lot of screenshots, step-by-steps and outlines that will help you understand his process during his work.
2. To emphasize a point
These are the kind of visuals where the blogger is using data and statistics to show you a certain point. Think about what CMI is doing in their blog post where they show screenshots from their Benchmark about the Content Marketing Industry.
These kind of visuals help the author to be recognized in the industry as a specialist because he backboned his story.
3. Show personality
Call them whatever you want but these are the memes, .gifs, infographics, gipographics or graphic visuals and others that can give you a personality. Look at how Klientboost is using gipographics in partnership with Instapage to showcase the landing page copywriting blueprint.
If you will go on their blog post you will see that they don’t just upload an infographic over there. They divided the gipographic in a compelling article where they created snackable visual content for every point they want to show a personality.
Having a clear purpose on why you will upload that image in that certain space on your blog post will help not only your readers have a pleasant experience while reading your article, but will also be a good strategy to grow your traffic.
And now that we understand the importance of having a purpose for an image in a blog post and we know what kind of article we write, let’s see how many images should we use in a blog post and why.
The wireframe of the blog post from a visual perspective
Some of the specialists will also say that it depends and you can’t create a certain template for the blogging process. And I 100% agree with it, but I tried this strategy a few times and it helped me a lot to gain a better observation on what I’m doing.
There are 3 parts where you need to use visuals for the good sake of your blogpost.
1. Featured image
Let’s see the definition of a featured image that WordPress is giving us:
A featured image represents the contents, mood, or theme of a post or page. Posts and pages can have a single featured image, which many themes and tools can use to enhance the presentation of your site. – WordPress.com
More simply said: these featured image are like the cover of the book or like the cover of your album.
The featured image is one of the 3 important aspects to every blog post, including post title and the content itself (images, videos, writing etc).
Many readers who go on a web page are used to see the first image. And unfortunately there are a lot of bloggers who forgot the importance of the featured image.
Think about this article is like a product and your product needs an image. Every time you share that article on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin the social network will show the featured image used for the article.
Let’s look at how HelpScout is using the featured image.
You won’t see stock images on their blog. But you will see illustrations beautifully designed by a professional who understands their brand identity and tone of voice.
Actually, their visual designer, Stephen Murril, wrote a blog post where they showcase why “Illustrations are more than digital eye candy”.
“Every visual should augment the content it inhabits. Otherwise, it’s just a cute drawing, and those belong on the fridge. A successful visual interpretation can introduce a new perspective in the prose, so start by understanding what key points the author is making.”
This is what we also do at Bannersnack: we are looking to design featured images for every blog post we publish to communicate with our readers the topic in a much simple and visual way. Our process on designing these featured images is very simple.
We communicate with our designers the topic we will write about. So they can start do their process of research. After we finish our article and it’s ready to be published, we send it to our designers so they can read it too. Then they take their day to design the featured image for the blog post. The visuals are close to our brand guidelines and color identity.
If you are a single blogger and you don’t know or you don’t have the amount of time and money to invest in a featured image, you could easily use your own photos from Instagram or download some from a third party website.
Here are a few websites you can find free images.
Another great example that I’d love to share with you is from the roastycoffee.com website. When I found them I was purely in love on how they use visual content marketing.
For example, if you want to know more about the caffeine in coffee you can easily find the article just from their featured image.
After I clicked the link, I wished that I will see the same visual I’m used to it. And guess what: it’s the same visual I know I clicked on:
I love the simplicity of this website and also the good information I can get about coffee (because I’m a big coffee lover).
But roastycoffee.com is a project that Matt Giovanisci (MoneyLab.com) launched and he also wrote about the rebranding process behind the website. So check out his entire process and see how much work he had done to make it so beautiful.
What if you don’t have design or developers skills to create such a great visual for your website? Well, this is why Bannersnack got your back and here you can find thousands of high quality images, professional fonts and hundreds of cliparts and templates.
Here are the 3 best practices when you want to use a featured image:
- Optimize image – take care of the size you upload on your website because you don’t want it to load very slow. Also, quick load time is very important for SEO, even in our times, when many users are consuming media through mobile. You can use plugins like EWWW Image optimizer to reduce the image size. I’m using Winsite Image Optimizer to optimize the images on my blog.
- Size – it’s important to understand what size you should use for your featured image on your blog. Why? Because it’s important to maintain consistency and give a professional appearance. My recommendation is to use the 800px wide x 600 px high. For example, if you are a reader of Copyblogger blog you will notice that their featured images have the same size: 1400 x 706 px but it’s optimized for their blog at 664 x 334px.
- Relevance – be relevant with your featured image. Stay close to your brand and your story. I gave you an example before with Helpscout and Bannersnack’s blog, but you can check out other websites like Content Marketing Institute, Instapage blog or Moz.
2. The visuals in the article
These are the kind of visuals you are using in your articles. The ones that you want to create a better experience with your readers and also make the article look good.
The guys from BlogPros analyzed 100 high ranking blog posts and found a few interesting ideas. I will use the ones that are interesting for our visuals in article topic:
- Each article had an average of 3.2 images.
- The average count of 1149 words per article.
- 5% of the articles have embedded videos.
A. One image per 350words.
Now let’s look a little bit at the last section: the top highest ranked blogs on the internet use at least one image for every 350 words. They didn’t say what kind of article were written or how they used the images or the kind of images they used.
Well, my friends, you can use visuals in a lot of ways but that only depends on your blogging style.
B. The listicle style
For example, if you want to be a website like Buzzfeed and start using listicles a lot, you don’t have to post an image for every 350 words. You can easily write 2 or 3 sentences and upload a relevant image. The one that they used in this article presenting “The 32 Most Exciting Books Coming In 2017”.
You can upload each image under the other or you can create a slideshow photo set (I recommend the Photosnack plugin – easy to use and great interface) so the reader won’t scroll down through the article, but click the next slide button.
C. One image for every 350 words
Or, if you want to take on Neil Patel’s path and start creating long form content, you could make exactly how he said is doing. He is uploading images at every 350 words. He also used banner ads in his articles to convert his readers and try to make some business.
Well, it seems that this strategy is fitting his desires, so we don’t need to criticize him (right, Rand?).
D. Snackable visual content
Another example on using images Rand Fishkin and his Whiteboard Friday project. We can see a branded featured image he is using in every post, but also he is uploading the video and below it, we can see 2 kind of images:
- The big visual on which he is talking about.
- The divided big visual in small chapters for his video transcript.
In this case you could easily read his article if you are not a video fan, because he used the images in two separate ways.
E. The chapter style
Some of you may notice that this kind of uploading visual is something like the listicle, but the difference is that every chapter has a separate kind of visual and helps the reader have a better understanding on the topic.
For example, the guys from Buffer had done a wonderful job while they published “The 10 Best Social Media SlideShares of 2016 to Get You Ready for 2017” using for every example the Slideshare presentation and an image cut out from it.
F. The random style
This is the most simple and used style I have ever seen. It doesn’t have any rule, just the way the author feels he can use and can make the article more easy to read. Whenever the blogger wants to emphasize a point or just wants to explain a process, he is using a visual.
The one that Mention is doing in their blogging style. Look at this article where they are telling you how to promote your infographics on social media.
Here you can see examples where they point out what to do and what you shouldn’t do. Simple, right?
And last but not least, here is the visual you should use in your blog post, and some of the big bloggers are using as an advertising space – the bottom visual.
G. The bottom visual
Converting readers into subscribers and maybe into customers is not an easy work to do. Maybe the blog where you write right now is the only thing you have and you want to make that reader click on an ad and buy from you. But to do that, you need to win his trust, right? You need to create a bridge between you and the reader.
Some of the marketers say that it’s ok to use an exit pop-up or it’s ok to use 4 banner ads in a blog post. It doesn’t matter how many banner ads you use, if you didn’t create a relationship between the reader and you, it won’t help you.
So this is why you need to create articles where people come and read your thoughts, your ideas, get help from you while you share with them a case study or a step-by-step guide on how to be better in what they do. If they trusted you in that article you’ve published, they will click on the ad too.
And sometimes the best way to convert your reader is after he reads your article. Some of you want to get a viral article, so you will tell them to share your article using that share buttons or some of you will let them know that they can subscribe to your mailing list so they can get news from you.
But did you know that you can use a visual at the bottom of the article so you can make them click on it?
For example, look at HubSpot and how they are promoting their content and their product at the bottom of every article. Some of these visuals are e-books or their inbound academy product and some of them are visuals that are selling their real product. It’s an image that can be a banner ad for your product or service.
So if you want to use it, please make sure that you stay relevant to your reader and also be consistent in what you advertise to him.
So what is the right answer for how many images you should use in a blog post? It depends, right? Exactly. I didn’t tell you the exact answer, but I presented you a few ideas on what you can do in order to a create a better blog post and also make your reader happy.
Now back to you: let me know what kind of visuals (memes, .gifs, infographics, photos etc) do you use the most in your blog posts and why?