It’s everywhere. A constant stream, at any time of the day, any location in the world.
Photos. We can’t get enough of them. We love taking them, and looking at everyone else’s. But why is this?
It can be argued that it is down to the evolution of social media, and that we can’t go anywhere without our phones glued to our hands. But photos and imagery have long been used to tell stories and convey messages to desired audiences.
We are in an “Age of Visual Culture”, where we are driven and drawn to images and other key visuals. There are almost 2.5 BILLION camera phones in use across the world – that’s a lot of Instagram posts. And around 10% of all photos ever taken have been taken in the last 12 months.
But why are we so obsessed with photos?
Images are a universal language, being easy to understand, upload and share. Images can also be interactive, rather than static, making images even more important to websites.
Furthermore, research suggests that around 65% of people are visual learners – makes sense knowing that we remember 80% of what we see and only 20% of what we read. So enough on the history of photos, why should we be using them on websites?
Drive more visitors to your website
60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results. We are drawn to good quality images, and they provide us with credibility for goods and services.
It all rests on the fact that including images and videos increases user experience, through making a website more visually appealing or easier to use. Top quality photos help boost overall experience and users are then more likely to recommend and share your website.
The whole idea of a website is to capture and inform your audience of the goods and services you provide. Images do exactly this; they can convey complex messages in the blink of an eye.
Relevant images deliver contextual messages, rather than images which are used to break up the text and look ‘pretty’.
Take for example a hotel. Rather than reading a length post about the amenities the hotel has to offer, an image gallery can show us what the hotel has to offer, its decor and so on. Lengthy posts can deter your audience as it just takes too long.
The amount of time we spend on a website actually improves search rankings, so we need to ensure that our users are not directing their mouse to that “back a page” button. Engaging photos and overall user experience means you have longer to sell your good and services.
Images are a really important part of content marketing, acting as both eye candy and informative. Double threat.
Improve on-site SEO
As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and Google agrees! According to research carried out by MOZ, Google Image searches count for 26% of all US Google searches, compared to the world’s largest organisation, Amazon, only making up 1.85%.
So as long as the image used matches the text, you will rank better in both image and generic search engine.
You can also alter the text associated with your images to help boost search engine rankings. Google Images recognises ‘filler images’, as well as those generic photos from Stock Photography. These do not rank well. It means that ‘visually similar images’ appear instead, and shows hundreds of other websites that have used the same image as you.
Using keywords in the description of the image gives the image a relevant, and smart file name. Search engines rely on the file name, captions, titles and so on of images to recognise the source of where it has come from.
Making sure images are responsive, correct sizes and scalable means your website is compatible across numerous devices, and once again, boosts SEO.
The emotional side
Images can be used to emotionally draw us in too. Images can be used to sell a lifestyle, how a product could ‘drastically’ change your life and plant ideas in your head. It helps to sell your products or services.
Photos can be used to show us how a product/service can solve our problems. Not happy with your drab kitchen thats falling to pieces? Insert (literally) an image of a flash, sleek new kitchen. AKA our service can provide you with the kitchen of your dreams!
Well-shot photographs are one of the single best ways to sell from a distance.
Photos can help your website visitors feel comfortable. It is important to ensure that photos are not too shocking or will turn people away. The messaging between your website and your images should match up seamlessly.
Websites are meant to be the story book of your business. Images convey the story you are trying to tell, in the same way a storybook does. Graphics and images provide information in an efficient and interesting way.
Images are an important part of building an effective brand, providing engaging content and can overall take both your marketing efforts and websites to the next level.
Photos in use
Skills Hub in Newcastle is a service offering young people with advice and support with employment. As their service is aimed at a young generation, who admittedly are the driving force behind our obsession with social media, imagery on their website is extremely important.
On every part of their website they have incorporated photos to help explain to their audience the services they provide. It creates an enjoyable website to use whilst being informative and professional.
The images show the location of the service, their staff, and even an example of the type of schedules they run on a day-to-day basis . After being on the website for under a minute, the user has a good understanding of the services Skills Hub offers.
As part of our own website here at Sleeky, photos are vital to portray the high quality service we provide. Take a look at our work here to see for yourself how images convey goods and services to website users.