Most of us are visual learners. We remember the lion’s share of visual information while 80% of what we read leaves our brain in a while. And it seems like science-based marketing has gotten an upper hand in recent decades. More and more business leaders enlarge their budgets for visual marketing – they hire outstanding photographers, find extraordinary photo stock images, shoot videos from behind the scenes, and on the whole focus on entertaining their customers and staying in touch with them.
And not just like that: business sharks perfectly know that high-quality, relevant imaginary skillfully incorporated into the overall mood always pay off. They are well aware of the mechanisms that drive sales. Well, let’s not lag behind and find out how original, certified, high-quality photos (either directly or indirectly) would help you in making profits out of your website.
#1 Avoiding legal intricacies
The first and perhaps the most surprising way in which certified images could help you is that they would safeguard you against legal issues, namely breaking the copyright law. It’s just frustrating how many inexperienced entrepreneurs fall into the trap of using random images and thereby endanger their businesses.
Here’s the thing: Google is not a licensed picture repository and therefore it bears no responsibility for images, even those labeled for reuse with modification. And since Google labels have no legal power, you have no other choice but to contact and ask the owner of the photo for using his or her intellectual property. By ignoring that you immediately put yourself at risk of being drawn into litigations (even though you might not get caught at all).
A much safer way is to take photos by yourself, address picture-taking to your employees, or purchase the image(s) you need at an image stock website. The latter is often the most reasonable choice (explained a few paragraphs below).
#2 Improving website metrics to fall in love with Google
There’s no fresh data on how much traffic is coming from Google images, but a few years ago it was about 15% of the total traffic. Pretty much, huh? You can check the numbers in Google Analytics: Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Source/Medium -> Google images/organic. And if those numbers are lower than expected, most likely you have to optimize your images for SEO and improve the overall user experience.
A relevant, high-quality image can be used for a variety of goals – emphasize the advantages of the product, represent a new concept, explain, educate, or it can even tell a story of its own – but what always remains the same is that the image should improve user experience (UX). Here are the basic points:
- Use only high-quality images relevant to the context. Beautiful images excite users, but do not convey any ideas and therefore not the best choice if you want to drive sales, not only delight your potential customers. Use only relevant images that add value to what is written and not overkill with visual elements.
- Place the main idea at the focal point. Focus on the main object of the image to send the key message of the picture. For example, if you advertise a new mobile phone, make the accent on it, not the beautiful girl that holds it.
- Avoid overused photos. The competitor research (you’ve done it, right?) must have revealed the visual clichés to steer clear of. Overused stock pictures won’t do you any good, so make sure to dig deeper into pages of stock repositories.
- Display real people and sincere emotions. Faceless office dummies or overly happy customers are an obsolete approach – first of all, both look unnatural; secondly, people do not associate themselves with dummies or strangers smiling for no reason. Real people and real emotions are what you need to create a bond with your customers.
Image SEO starts right after you shoot the image or download it from a photo stock website. Here are the main SEO tricks to apply to images:
- Choose the correct image format and name. Depending on the
purpose of the image, you may choose the following formats:
- JPEG for illustrations and large pictures to achieve the highest quality, color, and visual appeal.
- PNG if you need the image to overlay with the website content.
- SVG for icons and logotypes.
Title-wise, name the picture just like you want Google to read it and of course, avoid meaningless numbers like 34845.jpg.’ Last but not least, avoid keyword stuffing by all means (correct: ‘party.jpg;’ wrong: ‘party-celebration-shindig-awesome-chill.jpg’).
- Add alt text. Google uses the descriptive text of the image to understand its content. Come up with an informative alt description that matches the image and the content of the webpage. Here’s what Matt Cutts says about it
- Select the right image size. Images are the heaviest objects on the web page, which is why you should be very attentive with image sizes so that not to overload the website. Use responsive image techniques and proper image optimization to provide the best user experience. For example, if the maximum width of your website is 720px, all images regardless of their original size will be downsized to 720px, so in this case, there’s really no use in overloading users with excessive megabytes.
- Use structured data. In 2018, Google announced that they would account for structured data (the data that consists of tags and properties of images and everything else that is on the website) in their rankings. The best explanation on how to optimize the structured data is here.
All in all, an image SEOis a complex area that can only be handled well by a professional. Nevertheless, you can do some basic adjustments on your own after doing further research on the topic.
#3 Creating visual appeal
Contrary to an old adage urging us not to judge a book by its cover, we leave unattractive websites and immediately move to competitors and we tend to spend much more time on appealing websites than those with great text content. But we shouldn’t blame ourselves since there’s science behind our actions. Our brain processes images by 60 000 times faster than text and, what’s more important, absorbs the majority of visual information. Yes, we literally feel pictures and nothing tempts us as much as than great visual appeal. Here are a few science-based tricks to make your website a candy:
- Create the right first impression. Whether you like it or not, the first impression that a potential customer gets from your website determines whether he or she will buy from you. That’s why an awesome first screen is a must. To make it look great, adhere to the basics of color theory and the basic rules of photography composition – framing, the rules of thirds, leading lines, focal points and background of the images, symmetry, patterns, and depth. It’s too much to explain within one article, so better navigate to Depositphotos blog to get a clue on how to combine colors in an image and match them with other visual content.
- Stick to your brand colors. You must have already chosen a color palette, so try and pick corresponding images. And if that’s not possible, think of whether the image or the overall style is more valuable to you in this specific case. Sometimes it is better to leave the text without an illustration than turn your web page into a multi-color potpourri.
- Evoke emotions. Boosting loyalty and provoking emotions in your audience is the ultimate purpose of images, and you can achieve this better by displaying the positive impact that your product makes on the environment, people, etc. Whether you do charity, run a recycling program, or make our world a better place in any other way, don’t hesitate to showcase your activities with images – people would love to identify themselves with your noble goals.
Building lifelong relationships with customers is only possible if they stay with your brand long enough to imbue themselves with the values, ideas, and spirit you promote. So don’t disappoint them at once – do your best and take original photos or pick stock images that would provide you with good hooks.
Hiring a photographer vs. stock images
While there are gazillions of places where you can use high-quality images – articles, blog posts, product descriptions, goods, gifts, etc. – there are only two ways to get those photos – either by taking shots by yourself (aka hiring a photographer) or sourcing them from stock websites.
Theoretically, a full-time photographer is the shortest path to high-quality photos and fresh ideas. Also, he or she would attend meetings and conferences to represent your company. However, hiring a photographer is always costly – a well-trained professional may charge up to $100 per hour, which equates to buying a few – a few hundred images from photo stocks, let alone you can use free photo repositories.
By and large, the best approach is to start with researching the best free and paid photo stocks. Those are abundant with affordable images that you can edit and turn into masterpieces harmonizing with what is on the web page and what is in your mind. And if you fail to find anything acceptable, you can always change your mind and hire a photographer or photojournalist.
Where to look for stock photos: top-5 free and paid photo stocks
- Flickr. Employing more than five bullion images, Flickr is an image social network and the first free resource to put your hands on. The rich metadata will allow you to find thematic images within seconds, as well as you will be able to follow specific photographers that you love. The only hiccup is ads continuously popping up in front of your eyes, but that can be solved for $5.99 a month.
- Unsplash. A giant free repository with more than 700 000 images, Unsplash splint photos into several categories and enables thematic collections of shots. All photos can be used for free for commercial purposes without asking for permission and providing credit to the photographer.
- Pixabay. More than one and a half million high-quality stock images and vectors at Pixabay should be enough to find a photo of your dream. The good news is that everything is free – all content can be used commercially and non-commercially; no attribution required. Pixabay enables searching by keywords and sorting by popular images, popular searches, and photographers.
- Depositphotos. A luxurious library of 140 million files unites the best royalty-free stock images, ten of which could be available to you for only $9.99 per month. Whether it is a thematic collection or a creative photo that you’re searching for, you are bound to find it at Depositphotos. Advanced subscription plans start at $69 for 75 images and go up to $199 for 750 pictures.
- Shutterstock. There’s absolutely no chance that you haven’t heard about Shutterstock, a photo bank with 220 million pictures, illustrations, and videos. Monthly plans start at $40 for ten images, but it’s only better that you can get a free monthly trial that includes ten images on the house.
The ever-growing market of image stocks is not limited to the repositories above, but those are the best of the best, offering good value for money. With that being said, you are free to explore the whole range of stock photo banks by starting with those indicated above. Godspeed!
The bottom line
High-quality certified images masterfully incorporated into the overall business strategy would turn your website into a gold mine. They would create the necessary visual appeal, hooking customers to your story, and boost your rankings in search engines. The overall effect would be by a significant increase in your profits. And now that you know so many visual tricks, you are all set to make it actually happen.