Yay, graphics! They spruce up your pages, enlivening them with splashes of color and breaking up all that black text. Only, despite graphics being your best friend, getting them to work for you isn’t as simple as just adding ones that look visually appealing.
Indeed, graphics are one of the biggest conversion killers there is. Not only can they affect your on-site SEO by slowing down page loading time, but they can also damage your bottom line by hurting your conversions.
Put simply, there is a right and a wrong way to do graphics. And because we all rely on them without being graphic designers ourselves, there is every chance that you might be using them wrong. Instead of boosting your site’s aesthetic appeal and improving conversions, they might be turning site visitors off.
Let’s take a look at how graphics may be hurting your website.
Incorrect Placement of Images
Readers have got used to a specific sequence when it comes to what should be presented to them on a website. They expect to have their attention grabbed first by the headline, and then by an eye-catching image. Then, they move onto the copy.
An image placed at the top of your page is standard practice. It’s marketing 101 that draws people into your article. As such, your image should be above the intro text – but below the headline.
This is a technique that was researched in-depth by master advertiser David Ogilvy and outlined in his book Ogilvy On Advertising. He was a print advertiser who wrote copy for magazines, newspapers, and various other periodicals. But his ads resembled news articles to a tee. What worked for him should work for everyone operating on the Internet today.
Ogilvy was a stickler for research in order to prove that his methods were working. He concluded that 10% more readers move onto the copy if the image comes before the the intro text.
Example of the typical sequential structure a reader expects – headline > image > body copy. Source: Nike
However, you’re allowed a degree of flexibility here. Occasionally, some bloggers will include their headline in their main image. If it look aesthetically pleasing, is easy to read, and the image is relevant, there is nothing wrong with going down this route now and then. Text and images combined is certainly emotive and can make a reader feel a certain way.
As long as it looks good, there is nothing stopping you including your headline inside your image
You’re Not Captioning Your Graphics
Continuing with Ogilvy, he found that captions beneath images don’t get passed over by the reader. Rather, they are read 300% more times than the copy in the body of an article itself!
This is a crazy stat that needs some explaining.
When structuring an article, you must always be aware that Internet site visitors have the attention span of a goldfish. When they arrive on a page, the average reader scans through the whole article from top to bottom before reading. Their aim? They want to see how readable it looks.
If the text is broken up into short, punchy paragraphs that are broken up even more by bullet-points, that are broken up even more by sub-headings, that are broken up even more by images, they’ll be much more inclined to read the article than if it was one HUGE block of text.
Once they’ve started reading, a reader’s eye – and mind – soon begins to wander. They’ll look for the images. If an image comes with an informative/funny/engaging caption? They’ll be convinced to dive back into the body copy.
Again, this is classic copy advice from a man who knew how to get the best out of graphics.
The best way to seduce a reader with a caption is to show them a benefit. What can your brand offer them that would pique their interest and keep them on your page? Or, if you’re pushing a product, what benefits/features does the product offer?
Example of features and benefits mentioned in a laconic caption. Source: Apple
Naturally, a caption shouldn’t always promise them a benefit. Make it fit in with the overall purpose of the article, but also make sure it stands out. A surprising, eye-catching stat works.
You’re Using Cliched Stock Photos
Who hasn’t seen images like this before?
Anyone who is serious about their website will be prepared to pay for quality photos. Sites like ShutterStock offer a wealth of high-quality, original images that will look awesome on anyone’s website.
However, original is a subjective term. While the photograph itself is original, the fact that so many other people can purchase the same image means that it won’t be original on your site.
Using cliched, seen-everywhere graphics can harm your brand because it makes you look unoriginal, uncreative – and perhaps even lazy. The obvious solution to this one is to take photos yourself. If you’re not a photographer, you could hire someone else to do this for you. If this option doesn’t fit within your budget, the next best alternative is to flick past the first few search pages and track down images that aren’t as popular.
Your Graphics Aren’t Optimized
Not only should your body copy by optimized – your images should be, too.
Images do show up in Google’s search results. The more your graphics are optimized, the more chance you have of driving more traffic to your page. You can work on their alt-tags, their descriptions, and their captions with keywords. Doing so will improve your rankings and will help to generate more traffic.
And who couldn’t do with a bit more traffic?!
You’re Breaking the Left Margin
Example of an uncluttered, unbroken left margin that’s easy on the eye. Source: InsaneLab
Back to David Ogilvy for this one, who found that breaking the left margin with graphics disturbs a reader’s concentration, upsets the equilibrium of your website – and can cost you money.
Ever noticed that when you read an article on a website, the left margin rarely contains images? It’s because readers have been conditioned to rely on the left margin as an anchor. Images to the right are fine, but when placed to the left of copy, they upset the balance.
Thrust into a digitalized parallel universe where nothing is as it seems, the reader may lose their focus. Once this has happened, the chances of you getting them to take action are threatened.
It’s Not Clear Why Your Graphics Are Even Here
Pattern disrupt works fine on social media with an ad. It doesn’t work in your copy.
If a reader can’t understand what your graphics are even doing on your page, confusion will set in, and your bounce rate might soar.
To avoid confusion and disappointment, you need to make absolutely sure that your images have relevance. The best graphics tell a story or demonstrate a point or a statistic. For example, graphs work super well.
WordStream use graphs to illustrate more clearly their point
The best way to tell a story? Add a caption (see point 2).
These are ways that graphics may be hurting your website. The good news? They’re easily amended. You don’t need to start all over again from scratch, and you don’t need to hire a web designer. In just an hour, all your graphic woes can be sorted.
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About the author: Aljaz Fajmut is an internet entrepreneur and founder of Nightwatch – a search visibility tool of the next generation. Follow him on Twitter: @aljazfajmut