Go and take a look at your favorite blog. Now check out your favorite Facebook fan page, the one you always make sure to read when it pops up in your timeline.
Notice any similarities? Chances are, both places use pictures as much as they use words to tell their story. It’s part of a larger trend toward visual content across all web platforms.
Nothing will ever replace having well-written articles, snappy headlines and quippy Facebook status updates. But in addition to all that, you’ve also got to make sure you’re paying enough attention to images.
Your audience sure is. Research shows photos are the most popular content on Facebook, with two times more likes than plain old text updates or links. When you factor in the meteoric rise of visually based social networks like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram, there’s no doubt that visual content is here to stay.
Images aren’t just for social media, though: They should be an integral part of your website and blog strategy. If you’ve done a Google search lately, you may have noticed Google Image search results showing up right on the main search engine results page, mingling with your regular text links. If you click over to the Google Image results tab, an additional universe of photos is waiting.
So what, you ask? Well, those images are another entry point to your website for searchers. On our own website, image search traffic results in 38% of all organic search traffic. That’s 38% more customers you’re ignoring without visual content. As an added bonus, in many cases you can rank in the top echelon of image results with little trouble, simply because fewer people are posting pictures.
So how can you make the most of visual content? Follow these simple steps to visual content success:
Title all images
When you pull a picture off your phone or camera, it usually pulls a generic description with it — something clever like “photo” or “123.jpg.” Take the time to create an original title incorporating targeted keywords. When search engines crawl your site, they can’t see photos — but they can read the titles. Don’t forget to add a description, too.
Be bold on Facebook
When you go to share a link, you’ve probably noticed that it will automatically pull through a small thumbnail with a description and an image from your site. But it’s so small compared to those photos everyone’s posting. What can you do?
Add the link to your status update, but close out that preview window. Click the “upload a photo” tab and select whatever photo you used in your blog post, or any image you think will entice people to stop through your timelines and take a closer look at your link. You’ll be surprised at the increase in interaction and click-throughs you’ll see using this simple tip.
Use memes and humor
You’ve probably seen real, legitimate businesses on Facebook posting captioned photos of agrammatical cats or a photo of someone planking or Tebowing. What’s the point in that? It doesn’t promote their business in any way — directly.
The benefit of posting these kinds of silly photos is that people love them. They hit that “like” button, they comment, they share. And every time they do that, you receive a boost in your Facebook Edgerank – the algorithm that determines which content appears in fans’ timeline. The more someone interacts with your photo of a dachshund in a party hat, the more likely they are to see that link to your killer sale in the future.
On websites and blogs, they can add a dash of humor and personality, as they do here on the Raven blog. If it fits with your brand identity, don’t be afraid to be a little wacky.
Images are here to stay. From here on out, they’re always going to be a part of your marketing. Make sure you’re using them smartly, and you’ll reap the benefits.
Photo courtesy Navicore