6 Best Practices for Using Images on Your BlogA Complete Guide to Blog Images (and Optimization for SEO) in 2022

In this detailed guide about how to use blog images, I’ll take you through all the best practices for using images on your blog—including choosing the right images, where to get the best stock photos, optimizing your images and using them to boost your SEO rankings.

6 Best Practices for Using Images on Your Blog (Tutorial on Blog Images) Icon

Wondering how to use images on your blog? Maybe you’re even not sure if you should be using images on your blog at all.

Using images effectively isn’t just about choosing the right photos. You need to know how to best optimize your images for SEO (so that they can help your blog posts rank higher in search engines). Beyond that, blog images can also help convert first-time readers into returning subscribers, increase the time readers stay on your blog post and so much more.

In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about choosing the right blog images, thoughtfully placing them in your blog content, and using them to boost your SEO ranking ability.

6 Best Practices for Using Images on Your Blog in 2022

  1. Blog Images: Why Use Them?
  2. Understanding Blog Image Copyright
  3. Five Ways to Find (and Make) the Best Images for Your Blog
  4. Choosing the Perfect Image for Your Post
  5. Four Basic Rules for Optimizing Your High Quality Blog Images
  6. How I Use My Blog Images to Rank in Search Results

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content free of charge for readers (like you).

Want to Start Your Blog (the Right Way)?

Check out my ultimate guide How to Start a Blog (on the Side).


First, let’s take a look at why images matter.

Blog Images: Why Use Them?

Ryan Robinson Podcaster and Blogger Working in a Coffee Shop

There are lots of good reasons to use images on your blog, whether those are head shots (like this blog image here), photos, screenshots, or even illustrations.

Images Add Visual Interest to Your Blog Posts

One really simple, but important reason to use images is that they help make your posts look more interesting and engaging.

When you only have seconds to make a great first impression on readers, images can make a huge difference.

In addition to adding color and visual interest to your posts, images help create more “white space” (that’s all the blank space where you don’t have words or pictures). This makes your posts easier to read.

Images Can Quickly Convey Meaning

Convey Meaning Through Blog Images (Stock Photo)

Have you ever heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” Sometimes, a well-crafted image can convey a lot of information almost instantly.

For instance, a graph or chart could show information that you’d otherwise have to convey through a list or table.

If you’re writing a tutorial, including photos or screenshots can make it so much easier for readers to follow the steps.

Take a look at my tutorial on how to start a blog, for instance, where I include lots of images showing exactly what to click.

Images Break Up Long Posts

Have you got a really long, in-depth post? If it’s only text (or text with just one image at the top), then it’s going to be quite hard for readers to fully engage with. Hence why something like an infographic-driven article, like my answer to, “how much do bloggers make?” can do so well in terms of social shares.

Using images lets you break up long posts, adding visual interest throughout and giving readers a little bit of mental breathing space.

For instance, in my article on common blogging mistakes, I have images throughout the post to help illustrate particular points — but also to give readers a quick break from reading.

Images Help Add Connection and Personality to Your Blog

It can be hard for readers to truly connect to you just through your words. They might not have much of an idea of what you’re like, and they may not really picture you as a person at all.

But by forming a stronger connection and conveying a sense of your personality through well-chosen images, you can turn casual readers into long-term fans — and customers.

In my post rounding up advice from top bloggers, I use a headshot of each blogger alongside their quote. It helps to personalize the advice and show that it comes from real people.

Understanding Blog Image Copyright

Before we go further, I want to make sure you’re steering clear of one huge mistake that bloggers often make with images.

Foodiesfeed Stock Images for Food Bloggers to Use

You’re convinced that using images on your blog is a good thing. And it is! So you go to Google Images and type in what you want to use to illustrate your latest post… maybe “woman typing” for a blogging-related article.

Lots of different results come up. You save one to your computer, upload it to your blog, and pop it into your post.

Job done?

No! You’ve made a really serious mistake—one that could end up costing you a huge sum of money.

Images are often copyrighted.

That means that you can’t use them without permission. If you do, you could get sued.

Please don’t think I’m trying to fear-monger here or unnecessarily worry you.

In a moment, I’m going to take you through some great sources of copyright-free images. But just picking an image from Google could land you with a fine that runs to thousands of dollars.

It’s essential to use images that aren’t copyrighted. Luckily, there are plenty of great sources of images — both paid and free — that you can safely use on your blog.

5 Ways to Find (and Make) the Best Images for Your Blog

How can you find the best images for your blog? Here are some of my favorite (and safe) sources to try.

Using Your Own Photos or Artwork

Any images that you create yourself are automatically copyrighted to you and are usually the best source for your blog images. You can freely use them however you like (though other people can’t, unless you give them permission).

If you’re a travel blogger or food blogger, readers will probably expect to see some of your own photos (like I’m doing with my new hiking blog, Hike With Ryan). This helps add authenticity to your blog.

Don’t worry if your photos aren’t perfect… they’ll be a lot more personal and relatable than stock photos.

Do think about privacy concerns when it comes to using your personal photos on your blog, however. You may want to avoid using photos of your children, for instance, or photos that would closely identify where you live.

Some bloggers don’t even like to use their own photo, especially if they’re blogging under a pseudonym.

Stock Photos

One of the biggest sources of images for blogs is stock photography.

These tend to be quite generic photos (particularly, but not exclusively work-related) that are used on websites, in magazines, and even on book covers. They cover a huge range of different topics.

6 Best Stock Photo Websites for Blog Images

There are lots of different sources you can tap into for stock photos online. Some of the best ones to try are:

  • Unsplash (free): This stock image site is royalty-free and has one of the most extensive libraries of beautiful photos, graphics and images on the Internet.
  • Freepik (free and paid): This site offers free and premium (paid) options for thousands of vectors, photos, psd and icon graphics. The free graphics are always no-strings-attached for personal use, but for commercial use they require attribution.
  • iStockPhoto (paid): You pay for images using credits or through a subscription pack. (You can also buy stock video clips and music.) You’ll find a range of images to choose from, including photos, vector illustrations, cartoons, icons, and more.
  • Shutterstock (paid): This site is similar to iStockPhoto, with a very large range of images, plus video clips and music that you can use.
  • Pixabay (free): All the content on Pixabay (photos, vectors, video clips, music, and more) is free to use. You won’t get the same quality or range as on iStockPhoto or Shutterstock, but for many newer bloggers, Pixabay can provide all the images they need.
  • Pexels (free): Like Pixabay, Pexels offers copyright-free images and videos that you can use on your blog. It’s well worth searching both sites to find the perfect photos or other images for your posts.

Now, let’s talk about creating some of your own blog images (or graphics), starting with a few tools that’ll help immensely.

Canva

Canva Homepage Screenshot (Using Tool to Make Blog Images)

Canva is a very popular online image creation platform. Even with a free plan, you get a huge number of stock photos, icons, clipart, and other images included.

If you upgrade to a pro plan, you’ll have access to over 100 million premium images, audio, and video.

While you won’t get as much choice as you do on dedicated stock photo sites, the big advantage of Canva is that there’s no limit on how many images you can use.

Plus, you can quickly and easily customize images or create graphics using multiple different images and elements within Canva’s platform.

Many bloggers use Canva for creating branded featured images to use on Pinterest and other social media sites when linking to their posts.

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator Homepage Screenshot (for Creating Blog Graphics)

Adobe Illustrator is a popular vector graphics and design program. If you want to create your own graphics and images for use on your blog, it’s a great option.

You can use Illustrator to create logos, buttons, ads, promotional graphics, and more. You can also use it for photo editing — e.g. if you want to crop and resize a photo.

Illustrator isn’t cheap, however, costing from $19.99/month if you pay upfront for a year. This means that if you don’t already use Illustrator, you’re probably better off using some of the other options on this list.

Screenshots

If you’re writing tutorials or reviewing software, screenshots are a must-have. It’s normally fine to use screenshots in the context of a tutorial or review — just make sure you’re not taking screenshots of proprietary information.

For instance, if you’ve purchased an online business course, you shouldn’t share screenshots of the actual course materials themselves. If you’re unsure, just check with the website or product owner.

To take a screenshot, simply hit the Print Screen key on Windows, Shift+Command+3 on a Mac, or Ctrl+Show Windows on a Chromebook.

This will take a picture of your whole screen. You can then paste your screenshot into any graphics editing program, such as Paint.NET, where you can crop it down if needed.

If you want to add features like arrows, boxes, or text to your screenshots, you can use a dedicated screen shot app like Snagit.

Choosing the Right Blog Image for Your Post

Whatever source you’re using, it can be tough to figure out which blog image will fit into the content at-hand.

How to Pick the Right Images to Use on Your Blog (Stock Image Example)

Some images might seem too corporate and stuffy for the occasion. Others may look amateurish. You might be unsure about how best to illustrate a concept or idea.

It’s worth spending some time choosing images rather than picking the first one you come across. To get the best images, I recommend that you:

  • Avoid using the top few images that come up for your search term: lots of other bloggers will be using them too! Dig a little deeper. Ideally, you’ll want to shortlist a few different options for each post.
  • Think about the color scheme of your blog: Will the photos fit in well, or contrast nicely? Or will they clash with the other colors on the page? You might want to try out a few different options in a draft post to see how they look as part of the overall piece.
  • Consider which types of images you want to use: For instance, some bloggers use cartoons. Others use images that feature children. Using a similar type of image across your blog helps create consistency.
  • Make sure images are consistent with your brand: Brash, angry images aren’t going to fit if your writing style is very easygoing and calm.
  • Take a few extra minutes to edit the images you pick: Often, cropping an image to focus on one element more tightly — or to remove something you don’t like — can instantly improve it.
  • Think about your audience and how they’ll relate to the images you choose: If you’re writing for retirees, for instance, don’t pick loads of images that feature teens and 20-somethings. If you’re writing for parents of babies and toddlers, don’t use photos of school-aged kids.
  • Make sure you’re picking good-quality images: Generally, you’ll want them to be crisp and in focus. You don’t want blurry snapshots. Search on several different sites, if necessary, to make sure you’ve got plenty of great images to choose from.
  • Think about how your images work in the context of your other posts: You don’t want your images to end up being too similar. Equally, you may want to make sure that over the course of several posts, your images represent different genders and races.

Now, let’s talk about best practices for making sure your blog images are optimized and will serve a purpose in your greater content strategy.

4 Basic Rules for Optimizing Your High Quality Blog Images

Now that you’ve chosen a great image to illustrate your post, and downloaded it to your computer, you need to know how best to use it. Here are some key rules to follow.

Resizing Your Image

Resizing Your Blog Images (with Paint.net Tool)

When you take a photo, it’s likely to be much larger than you need for your blog. A photo from a smartphone, for instance, might well be 4032 x 1960 pixels.

Most blog images are around 500 to 800 pixels wide, depending on the size of the content area in the blog’s theme.

If you upload a larger image, WordPress will automatically resize it to fit within your blog post area — it won’t overlap onto your sidebar or other areas of your blog, so you might think there’s no problem.

The issue is that the image is bigger than it needs to be, so it’ll take extra time to load. You want to resize your images before uploading them to your blog.

It’s also a good idea to resize images so they’re consistent, both within posts and across your blog as a whole. For instance, many bloggers use a 500 x 300 or 550 x 330 image at the start of each post.

You can resize your image using free software such as Paint.NET. You can also resize batches of images online using tools like Bulk Resize Photos.

Compressing Your Image

Compressjpg Homepage Screenshot (Compressing Your Blog Images)

Simply resizing your image will reduce the file size quite a bit. But you can get an even smaller file size (and thus a faster loading time) by compressing the image.

The important thing to understand about image compression is that the more you compress an image, the lower its quality will be.

You want to strike a balance between quality and file size.

With many images, particularly photos, you’ll notice little or no visual difference after compression. The photo should still look as good as before — but it’ll load much faster.

Some great online tools to use are Compress JPG and TinyPNG (which also has a great WordPress plugin I recommend right here).

Tip: Use the JPG format for images with lots of different colors, like photos. Use PNG format for images with just a few colors, like screenshots or simple cartoons, and particularly for images with text in them. This will give you the best quality for file size.

Placing Your Image

Now that you’ve resized and compressed your image, you can add it into your blog post. Where should you place it?

Many bloggers will have an image right at the start of their post. This might be branded, with the blog’s name and the title of the post added to the image.

But you can also use images wherever you like throughout your post. I recommend adding in as many blog images as feels necessary to visually break up sections of your content where there’s too much text and reader attention could slip away.

The simplest way to do so is to center each image on its own line, rather than having it to the left or right of the text. This means it should display well on all devices.

If you’ve got a long post, you might want to think about how to use images consistently. For instance, you might use an image at the start of each subsection.

Tip: Not sure how to add an image into your blog post on WordPress? Simply add an Image block, then upload or drag your image into place. You can also create an image block, then select from images that are already in your media library.

Adding Text to Your Image

You can add text to an image itself (before resizing and compressing it) using a graphics editing program or screenshot tool.

Alternatively, you might want to add a caption to an image.

You can do this in WordPress: click on your image to select it, then the space immediately beneath your image should show “Add caption.” Just click there and type in your caption.

How I Use My Blog Images to Rank in Search Results

SEO Cartoon Stock Blog Image Example

Using images correctly is important for your on-page search engine optimization.

While your images won’t have such an impact as some other elements of your post (like the title), they’re still good clues for search engines about the topic of your post.

Search engines need text in order to understand what your photo is about, however. This means that each of your images should have two things: an image title and alt text.

Image Titles

Your image title isn’t a caption for your image. It’s not generally visible. On most browsers, it appears when a reader moves their cursor over the image.

(If you read the webcomic xkcd, you’ll know how title text is often used to add an extra joke.)

Your image titles should include your keywords. For instance, if your post is about “How to Start a Blog,” you might have an image with a woman at a computer — it could have a descriptive title like “Starting a blog” or “Woman at computer, starting a blog.”

To set an image title in WordPress:

  • Click on your image
  • Select the ‘Advanced’ dropdown in the Block pane on the right-hand side of your screen
  • Enter the title in the “Title attribute” box

Because it appears when the cursor is moved over the image, you’ll sometimes hear the image title described as a “Tooltip.”

In HTML code, the image title looks like this—here, the title part of the img tag is in bold:

<img src=”woman-at-computer.jpg” alt=”Woman seated at a laptop computer, starting a blog.” title=”Starting a blog”

Alt Text

Your image alt text is designed to be read by screen readers, for users who are visually impaired. This means it should clearly describe what’s in the image.

If your image includes text (like a screenshot from another blog post), then you should type this out into the alt text to make your post fully accessible.

It’s a good idea for your alt text to contain keywords like the title text. But it’s also really important that it describes the image, as that’s the purpose of alt text.

Try to give all images on your blog both a title and alt text to help boost your SEO efforts.

In HTML code, the alt text looks like this—with the alt text part of the img tag in bold here:

<img src=”woman-at-computer.jpg” alt=”Woman seated at a laptop computer, starting a blog.” title=”Starting a blog”

Conclusion: Using Images on Your Blog to Build Engagement and Boost Your SEO

Using images on your blog doesn’t need to be scary or difficult. You just need to keep these basics in mind:

  • Make sure every post on your site has at least one image to add visual interest.
  • Always choose copyright-free images. You could create them yourself or use stock photo websites.
  • Resize and compress your photos before uploading them to keep your posts loading as speedily as possible.
  • Always add title and alt text to your images, both for search engines and for accessibility purposes.

If you’re still getting your blog up and running, make sure you check out my post on How to Start a Blog. It goes through everything you need to know — and, of course, there are plenty of images along the way to help you.

Want to Start Your Blog (the Right Way)?

Check out my ultimate guide How to Start a Blog (on the Side).


Hi I'm Ryan Robinson

Full-time blogger, podcaster and side project aficionado. Join me here, on ryrob.com to learn how to start a blog, make money blogging and grow a profitable side business. I also write for publications like Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Business Insider and more. Let’s chat on Twitter about business and side projects.

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2 replies to “6 Best Practices for Using Images on Your Blog in 2022”

  1. Thank you.

    Just started. I don’t even know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it anyway.

    I have learned alot.

    Reply