There are lots of ways to use images in your content and lots of ways to optimise how you use them. Here’s a fairly detailed guide to some of these ways.
Crop and edit images before uploading them
Before you upload images to your web server, you need to compress them and save them to a suitable size. Photos from your digital camera may be 3,000 pixels wide or even wider, saved in high resolution. These massive files will take a huge amount of time to load into a page. A typical web page will be no wider than 1,200 pixels – even that is much larger than most photos appear in articles.
Use a photo editor such as Photoshop to resize images to the size you need them for the page. In Photoshop, you can also select the “Save as for web” option, which will automatically compress the image to a small file size.
When you save the image, give it a unique and sensible file name. The image below is called infographicaboutinfographics.jpg, which is better than calling it 34567.jpg.
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Select the right image format
The three most commonly used image formats for web pages are GIF (pronounced Jif, if you haven’t heard), Jpeg and PNG.
GIF is useful for images with flat colours. The maximum colour depth of a GIF is 256, so its range is limited – that’s because it is designed to be small. For photos, where colour range needs to be much wider, you can use Jpg, which is a compressed format.
PNG images allow much higher quality but, as you might imagine, the file sizes tend to be larger. PNG is particularly useful when you want to use a cut-out image with a transparent background.
More images means more views on Google Images
The more images you publish on your site, the more opportunities you have to be found on Google Images. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s an example of some of the images that Google has indexed from this website.
Let’s do some maths. If you publish one article on your site, that’s one web page that a search engine might show in results. If you include three images on that article, that’s three additional impressions you can gain from the search engine, through its images section.
One simple test you can do on your website is to right-click on images on the page – or command-click with a Mac – and see if you are presented with a contextual menu that allows you to save the image. If so, it’s most likely a search engine can also index the image. If your site is built in Flash, the answer will definitely be no.
Taking other people’s images – copyright
You can’t just take images from the web to use on your website. Your content must be legal. There are several stock photo libraries where you can get images for free and some where you have to pay small fees.
If you want to scour Google Images for free pictures, here’s a tip to help you find ones that are definitely free for use.
- Go to Google Images and carry out a search
- Then click on the tool icon to view the menu, showing Advanced search
- You will then see an advanced form
- At the bottom of the form, look for the ‘usage rights’ field. If you select one of the ‘free to use’ options, you will see images that have been published along with rights messages stating how they can be used by other publishers.