You want the first image a potential customer sees to have a real WOW effect.
Reading this article will put you several steps ahead to making that impression. Along with a great graphic it also has to look great to the search engines. If they don't like it chances are the customer will never see it. We will cover some pointers on how to make it appealing to search engines. They say an image is worth a thousand words, so you want to make sure those words all point to your Unique Sales Proposition (USP). Bear with me . . . I don’t intend to get too business management wordy, but the USP is the key reason people come to you instead of someone else for your product or service. Not sure what that might be? Ask them and then use that information via words and imagery to communicate to new prospects. It works.
Stock photos are libraries of existing photographs that are managed by stock agencies. You are basically renting or borrowing pictures from those agencies to use to help convey the message of whatever it is you are offering. Some are paid and some are free. Do pay attention to the agencies requirements for usage so you do not find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit. One of those agencies was bought out by a team of attorneys for a huge sum of money several years back. They scoured the internet for images they had purchased the rights to. Wherever those images were being used without permission their team of attorneys brought lawsuits running into the tens of thousands of dollars against the perpetrators. They quickly made their money back off that investment!
Basically, if you are using stock photography, be very careful and make sure to follow stock agencies rules to the letter. If you have images you are not sure about, there is a quick way to find out who owns it and who else is using it. - Go to www.tineye.com and paste the image into their search bar. It will tell you if it is assigned to any agencies as well as other websites that use that image. You may find dozens, hundreds or thousands of websites using that same image. Google and other search engines are not impressed at all with these types of images. They prefer those that are unique to serve to their users. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying not to use stock photos, I’m just saying be careful. Whereas search engines might ignore them, some of those pictures do a beautiful job of getting your message across. Consider taking your own pictures or hiring a photographer to appeal to those viewing your offering as well as satisfying the search engines’ desire for uniqueness. At the end of this article, I will include a list of both paid and free stock photo agencies.
User Taken Photos
If you have a modern phone, chances are it has a camera fully sufficient to the task of taking those unique pictures mentioned above. Take an hour or so and get a couple hundred shots of anything and everything in and around your business. Do not take shots of customers or their cars with license tags showing unless you or someone you know can blur them out. If someone says it’s okay to take their picture, be sure to get their permission in writing. Some of the graphics programs you might consider for altering pictures to your liking are Photoshopor a much cheaper alternative that does much of what Photoshop does called Affinity Photo. There are so many graphics programs, many of them free, that will do the job to make your own pictures look good. Gimp is an oldie but goodie that is a free graphic program that comes with many whistles and bells and there are many YouTube training videos available for it. If you are using Windows 10, a program called Paint is available from your start menu (free). Be sure to name the image file with a keyword or combination of keywords. Do the research to find out how you can add descriptions and keywords into your meta files to make it easier for Google and others to choose you over competitors to put on the front page of search results.
Finding a good graphic artist to fit your budget can sometimes be a real chore. By chance we found one on Fiverr that has filled our needs wonderfully and they are so reasonably priced we find ourselves tipping them often. Here’s a link to that artist. They may or may not be a fit for you – it is such an individual thing, but this one “feels” us. If you want to remain unique in your resulting graphic, it might be a wise idea to check it on tineye.com to insure everything in it is truly unique. I mention this due to the fact a number of graphic artists are really composite artists that grab bits and pieces from a number of sources to help you communicate your idea. Make it known to them up front that everything needs to be unique. Send them your own user taken photos if they need to use one as a background.
What Looks Good To A Search Engine And Why It’s In Your Best Interests To Do So
Search engines strive to be the primary platform where seekers find pertinent information. The more people that use their search engine, the more advertisers it will draw - which means more money for those search engine companies. Follow the money, right?! They are all in competition to find the very best search results, so they look for a number of factors to indicate whether or not your website is a worthy candidate. The images are a huge factor so do all you can to make sure they are unique.
Just as a quick example of what the search engines are seeing, let’s take the first image on your website, blog or other digital media you really want attention to. Copy the image (Cntl C) and go to www.tineye.com and paste the image into their search box. Is your picture unique or are other websites using that same image? With images and especially those first ones on the page, you’ll quickly see why unique images separate you from the pack. That’s the type of thing that impresses search engines because if you put yourself into their shoes, they want to provide the best possible product for their users.
Resources (just scratching the surface)
Stock Photos For A Fee
· Shutterstock - https://www.shutterstock.com/
· 123RF - https://www.123rf.com/
Free Stock Photos
· Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/
· Unsplash – https://www.unsplash.com
· 123FreeVectors - https://www.123freevectors.com/
· Photoshop - https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html
· Affinity Photo - https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/photo/
· Gimp – https://www.gimp.org
· Canva - https://www.canva.com/
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