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On Tuesday Jenn explored some choice ways to find and use images for online marketing. Having the images to use is the first step, but we now need to know what to do with them in order to optimize your online presence. Here a few rules of thumb that most anyone with a basic photo editing program or access to Google can enact.

Optimize Offline

As much as you possibly can, optimize your photos before you code them into your website, load them into posts, or generally make them available for public consumption.

Website Images

Even though CMS platforms make image editing possible and easy after you’ve uploaded the file, it’s still best to do this work offline. For example, if you’re using WordPress, multiple copies of the file are already made when you upload it initially, as the file is being “crunched”. Don’t take up additional server space unnecessarily by loading an image that is 2500×2000 px when you just want to use it as a thumbnail.

Also, while .png files make crisp, beautiful images, think about how they’re being used. Again, if it’s a thumbnail, turn it into a .jpg to save space and site load time. Your website visitors will thank you and it’s just a good SEO practice.

Last thing here, be sure to include a meaningful Title and Alt Text for your images on your site. If you need help coding this in html, visit w3schools.

Ok, this is the last, last thing…be mindful when using text in images for your website. It’s not meta data and won’t be viewable to web crawlers, bots, or users in Reader.

Social Media

Be sure to check dimension restrictions for your social media images before posting them to a permanent location, i.e. your Facebook header image. If you’re unsure, just do a quick search for image dimensions and you will find many great resources for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn…pretty much any social network you can think of. There’s nothing worse than using a great photo and only seeing part of it or having it squished and distorted when it’s uploaded.

Unlike website pics, I see no reason not to mix text and images when posting to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. However, if you can, you should own the images you post and host them on your website. On Pinterest, that’s incredibly valuable because people often click back to the source file. If that’s hosted on your site, then you just got another visitor.

Images Increase Engagement

In online marketing, pictures rule. Obviously if a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s easy to see why. One caveat to that: don’t use stock images or clip art – even ironically.  Every other content curator in the social nether is doing the same thing and no one wants to see rehashed pics from their brands. Instead find ways to show off yourself, your crew, your most elite customers, or just a great event.

Website Images

These should definitely be all about you. It’s understandable if you don’t have the immediate budget for a ton of hi-res, professional photos, but put a little effort into these. It is after all you’re first impression on many people – and it could be your last.

People take 0.05 seconds to judge a website’s design. And 75% of people admit to determining a company’s credibility based on their website.

I hear stories all the time, but one that struck a chord with me just happened yesterday morning when meeting with a potential client. They had 2 to 3 people turn away from using their B2B services because the website was old and looked “like a scam site.” Don’t let old images or dead spots on your page where an image should be tell the wrong story about your business.

Social Media

Social media pictures don’t have to be huge, stunning things, but they should be authentic. Keep some basic psychological principles in mind when looking for the best images to use as well. Here’s a nice resource for advertisers on the psychology of color.

As always, have fun with what you’re doing, track the results of your efforts, and don’t be afraid to try new things with your marketing campaign. Using images for online marketing will certainly help you get traction with your audience.