Images can be a very effective tool for increasing your blog's traffic. For one, including images in your posts is a valuable SEO trick in the blogging community. Secondly, high quality illustrations, photographs, graphs, or charts improve the look and feel of your posts. Keep in mind, though, that not all images are created equally. And you have to be careful about copyright laws and other rules for using images on your site.
In an ideal world, you would grab your own camera and snap some shots for your posts. But that's often just not practical, and many bloggers don't have the equipment or experience to do this well anyway. So we very often have to rely on stock images or graphics we find on the web. And just because you have great graphics doesn't mean you're getting the most leverage possible out of them; images can work toward increasing your blog's visibility if optimized the right way.
As you you start adding images to your posts, consider the following points to save yourself both time and trouble, and also to make sure your images work as effectively as possible to increase your visibility online.
Quality over Quantity
Your blog images should be, at a minimum, 400 pixels in width. You can use a larger size for your width, of course, but never smaller than 400px. This minimum width ensures that users will be able to view your blog images without them appearing grainy or just too small to see. The size of your images will depend largely upon the width of your content on your site. For instance, if your main content section of your posts is 525px, then make your images slightly smaller than that size, such as 500px. Typically, images should be about 10-25px smaller to give room for any borders or other layout features your site might add to the image. Also, you usually do not need to worry about the height, unless the height is just so long that the entire picture cannot be seen without scrolling.
If you find an image that you would like to use, but it is too large, you can downsize it fairly easily using any image editing software. Some popular free ones include Gimp and Pixlr. You can actually enter the size in pixels that you would like your image to be. Usually this feature is found under one of the drop down menus in the main toolbar along the top of the software screen, and is usually titled "image size." Do keep in mind, however, that you usually will not be able to increase the size of a photograph you found on the web without serious pixellation problems, unless the increase is minimal.
Keyword File Names
Choose file names for your images that are keyword rich. Simply labeling your image file names with a date or number is not enough. Instead, give a word or two as to the actual content of the image. For example, if you have a blog post about a recipe for strawberry pie you recently tried out, name your images something like "strawberry-pie-recipe.jpg" so that search engines understand the image relates to your blog post.
Double and triple store your images. For example, also save your images to your Facebook and Google+ accounts. Then you can link back to your blog, giving you more traffic from people who know you. They'll also be more likely to share what you have posted if they see it first on your social media site.
This does not mean that you need to jump off every single preverbal social bridge, but it is possible to implement ideas from social hot spots into your own style blog and blog images. For instance, memes are currently a popular image type. If you were to create a meme or several memes for your blog and use the word in your keyword file name, then it would increase your chances of being seen on engine searches when people search for memes in your vein of content.
Every once in a while, it would be to your blog's benefit to use shared or linked images from other sites. Certain blogs will allow you to do this through a "reblog" button. This will notify the other blogger as well as all of their followers, usually in the content stream of a post on the other site. When allowed by the other blog, this can be an excellent source of legitimate, quality images and a boost in traffic from the other site as well.
Make your images something that people want to look at. You can do this by taking angled shots, using simple editing techniques (such as the kind you can find on the free Instagram app for smart phones), and including pertinent subjects. Your goal is to come up with something that is aesthetically pleasing without being overly-commercial. Why would people like your blog's images more than something else they can find on the Internet?
Use the picture embedded in your blog post to make a new pin on Pinterest. When you create this pin, you will be given options on how to organize this pin. Locations, crafts, home décor, etc. You name it, they've got it. Users will be able to click this pin which will then lead them to your blog post.
If you find that perfect image but the image is copyrighted, don't use it without asking permission. Most photographers are okay with letting you use their photos for free if they're amateurs. Professionals are more stringent, but that doesn't mean you can't take a few minutes to find their email address and send them a request. If a photographer finds his or her images in use on your site, often he or she can bill you for it, and you have to pay statuatory fines - often far more expensive than the cost of paying for the image in the first place. Search for stock photos on websites such as Stock.xchng and Shutterstock to find royalty free image in all sizes and resolutions. Or use a creative commons image finder, such as Photopin, one of my favorites.
Using the right images and optimizing them for visibility purposes is an important part of blogging. Never ignore the copyrights of images, create the right title, use good quality photos, and share your images on social media sites so that your blog images gain you the recognition you desire.