These days, images are an essential part of marketing a business. There are so many different types and uses for images, it’s easy to develop a “scattershot” approach where you grab the first image you see and decide to use it.
There are several problems with this, though – both in terms of your brand and with copyright issues. Let’s look at a few areas to consider.
A Unified Look to Your Business
Every image you choose should support your text on the page – whether that be a blog, website, or printed piece of sales material. Your logo and site should have an overall look and feel. The business will also have a style and tone: feminine, masculine, tech, business, health, and so on.
Visitors to your site should be able to see what it is all about as soon as they land on your page. The image/s you choose can convey if you are a serious site, or one that is a bit more relaxed and friendly.
Style and Tone
Think of the difference between two finance sites like TD Ameritrade and The Motley Fool, and you will see that even a serious subject like investing can be covered in a more user-friendly way. The strong green square with the letters TD in them conveys money and power. The Fool conveys a more light-hearted approach and a person who follows their dreams.
If we compare the photos on their front pages, we see lots of graphs, charts and businessmen (no women) on the TD site, while on The Motley Fool, we see ordinary objects like money, vacation spots and a windfarm for an article talking about investing in renewable energy. There are no women on that page either, but the images are accessible to both audiences.
Watch out for stock images. They can be gorgeous, but they might also make your site look like everyone else’s.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Your images can help with SEO if you take the time to name them with keywords (what is in the image) and use the alt and title tags to tell more about the image. This will give the search engines more information about your page and can boost your relevance and therefore your chance of ranking well.
It also gives your image a chance to be found on Google Images, for yet another chance at free traffic for your site.
The worst problem with images is their inappropriate use in such a way that it infringes upon the copyright of the person who created it.
Google Images is a great tool, but it is NOT a search engine for images that are in the public domain, or are eligible for use under a creative commons (CC) license.
For public domain works, anyone can use them. However, this can mean your site looks the same as a dozen others.
For CC licenses, you can use the work by permission of the copyright holder, with certain stipulations. There are six different CC licenses, but they can be broadly categorized as being allowed to change the image or not, and being allowed to use for commercial purposes or not.
Use this information to ensure that your images are helping rather than hurting your business.