3 Things to Do Before Uploading Photos to Your Blog

Today I’ve got the lovely Eve from Beautiful Spit Up here to share killer tips about using pictures on your blog. Eve’s a self-proclaimed Momcomm stalker. The first time she posted a comment to me, her personality just endeared me to her. We’ve been blog buds ever since. Also? She’s one awesome marketing chick. Enjoy!

Photo sharing. It’s like crack to bloggers. Am I right? We all love sharing cute photos of the kids, awesome 4th of July fireworks pics and food porn money shots. With all this sharing going on via sites and apps like Instagram, Flickr and Photobucket, we often fail to remember that not all photos are created equal.

Some photos work for you and some actually work against you. I’m here to help you whip those slacker photos into shape and get them to earn their place on your blog. Here are three things you should know in order to get your photos to work for you.

1. Don’t Bore Your Readers

While uploading photos is a fun way to break up the content in a post, I have a shocker for you. Remember those awesome pics of you and the kids at the beach this summer? They may very well be boring your readers.

Before you freak out, let me explain. Look at these two photos:

Which one is more visually appealing? The one with the drop shadow and rounded edges, right?

The first photo, while nicely taken, is flat. Boring. Meh. The second photo has those little details that help it “pop” within a blog post. It stands out more and therefore the eyes are drawn to it. It’s not boring!

Software like iPhoto, Microsoft Photo Editor and Photoshop are great for making edits, but if you don’t have any type of photo editing software, don’t worry. You can always use Picnik.com for editing those photos you just have to share. It’s free, easy to use and makes editing a breeze. (and no, I don’t work for Picnik.com)

Making a few minor enhancements to your photos will go a long way in engaging your readers. And since we all want more engaged readers, it’s a good idea to devote some time to photo editing. (For a quick tutorial on how to use Picnik.com, see the video below.)

2. Google is Dumb

Do you want to know a secret?

Go buy Melissa’s eBook and then I’ll tell you.

OK, OK, I’ll tell you now…

Google can’t see photos. (Gasp!) What? Yep, that’s right. Google’s bot (the one that scans your site for keywords and whatnot) can’t see photos. Watch out Sir Mix-a-Lot, there’s a big but.

BUT… Google CAN read file names!

What does that mean? It means that although Google can’t see the photo, it can get information about what it depicts from the file name.

Again, what does this mean? It means if you give a photo a name using keywords from your post, you’ll be able to bypass Google’s dumbness (yes, that’s totally a word) and describe the photo via the file name.

Example:

IMG3112.jpg

chicken-risotto-vegetables.jpg

Looking at the above photos, you’ll see the file name in the caption and when you mouse over each image.

The first image is named “IMG3112.jpg.” What does that tell Google about the image? Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. It may as well not even be there. From an SEO standpoint, it adds no value. (Although it’s jam-packed with deliciousness!)

The second image is named “chicken-risotto-vegetables.jpg.” What does that tell Google about the image? It tells Google the image is of chicken, risotto and vegetables. Score!

Assuming you’ve optimized the rest of your post, if someone googles good recipes for say, chicken and risotto, they might just land on your blog post. That’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) at its finest, kids!

If you’re like me and use tons of photos on your blog, you can easily add oodles of SEO value to your posts by simply taking a few minutes to edit the file names.

3. Size Really Does Matter

When it comes to uploading photos to your blog, size really does matter.

Photos shouldn’t be too large, and shouldn’t be high resolution. How do you know if a photo is too large for web use? If you can print it and it looks just as crisp printed as it does on the screen, then you have a problem.

Online photos shouldn’t look crisp when you print them. They should look slightly fuzzy. I suggest using the following attributes: 72 dpi resolution and less than 50 kb in “file size” (number of megabytes/kilobytes required to save the image).

The reason we want a smaller file size and lower resolution is so the images load quickly on the page and the don’t take up a ton of space on your site’s server.

If you have an image that’s already set at 72 dpi, but is much larger than 50 kb in file size, it’s probably a really large image. Shrink the size and see if the file size is lessened.

If it is still too big in file size, you may want to check the file extension. Formats such as BMP, PNG or TIF files do not compress images, meaning they don’t flatten the layers and pixels. That means a really large file size. Saving as a JPG, allows you to choose the amount of compression you want before saving the image.

By using JPG compression, you can keep the physical size of the image the same and reduce the amount of disk space required to save it. Keep in mind that doing so will sacrifice a little bit of the image’s quality. When compressing images, be careful not to lower the quality so much so that your images end up looking pixilated. Nobody likes a pixilated image. It’s so 1996.

For more deets on how to implement the above suggestions, I have a video tutorial for you. I show you how quick and easy it is to edit your photos on Picnik.com.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Happy uploading, kids!

Eve Zafiropoulo (@BeautifulSpitUp on Twitter) is a full-time marketing manager and has a B.S. in Public Relations and an M.S. in Advertising. She has a 17-month-old son and when she’s not busy blogging at Beautiful Spit Up or cooking something deliciously awesome, she can be found running around with her husband and son, drinking iced coffee or lurking on Facebook.

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Comments

  1. says

    This is great! When I’m feeling lazy, I don’t do anything to edit my pictures. However, most of the time I use Picnik. I’m not a premium member, so I just use the free services, and I’ve been very happy with it. Also, thanks for the suggestion on changing the file names! I’m an SEO dummy so every bit of information like that is helpful to me. By the way, this is my first visit to momcomm – thanks for introducing me to it Eve!

    • says

      You’re welcome Christi! I love me some momcomm. Melissa does a great job of taking complicated marketing tactics and describing them in such a way that anyone can implement them. I’ve been doing SEO now for a little over six years now so I can tell you that making these little changes really does make a difference to search engines. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. says

    Useful tips– thanks! It took me quite a while to figure out the renaming photos idea. It does make a big difference. Now I just have to figure out how to get the rest of my blog in optimal SEO mode.

    Cheers.

    • says

      Glad the tips helped! One quick tip I have for adding SEO to your post is to add keywords to your post title and url. Example, if you’re talking about a brand of wine in the post, use the brand’s name in your title and the url. Just doing those two little changes will help add mad SEO value to your posts!

  3. says

    Thank you Eve and Melissa. Great info! I never knew about the picture’s name being tied into SEO.

    Everytime I come over here I learn something new! Thanks for that!

  4. says

    I do tip #2 for my own organization, but I had no idea that it helped me in the SEO world. I need to keep working on #3. I do it, but sometimes I get lazy, because it takes more time (that I don’t have).

    So while I agree with #1 to a certain extent……….there is some of it that I don’t agree with. The second shot may be less “boring,” but the crop is more distracting and less appealing to my eye than the first one. Why? The ice cream is cut off and the negative space behind the apple pie draws my eye away from why the desert is appealing to begin with.

    What I am saying is, I agree that rounded corners and drop down shadows can add some flare to your photo, but it doesn’t always take away the “boring” aspect. I think a different crop and increased exposure on this shot would have added more interest than the round corners and drop down shadows achieved.

    Thanks for these tips that def. opened my eyes to some more ways I can improved my blog.

    • says

      Great comments here, Amber! You’re right about the cropping. Once I made the edits, I knew I’d cropped a bit too much. I was simply trying to show how adding some simple edits can make photos look more interesting. Good call on suggesting less cropping and increased exposure. Sounds like your photos are in good hands!

  5. says

    Yay! Congrats on your guest post. It’s so helpful, and I wish I’d known these tips when I started blogging. You would not believe how huge some of my old photos are – yikes!

    • says

      Thanks, Laura! When I looked back at some of my older photos, I found they were actually too small. I was so worried about having the pics be too large that I’d make them to small. It’s just one of those things that you need to play around with in order to find what works for you.

    • says

      Thanks, Dr. JulieAnn! I know what you mean about the jargon. I read lots of SEO related articles for work and sometimes us marketers use a language all our own. Shame on us! I really enjoyed writing this piece and I’m happy you got some take-aways from it!!

  6. says

    Thanks for these tips. I use picnik (free so far) and was wondering about the compression. I have not watched your video yet since I already use it, so sorry if you cover this. Once I crop and resize my photos it compresses usually to an “8” – would that be a good level to end up with?

    • says

      Great question, Deb! An 8 compression is fine so long as your file size is less than 50KB. But if you set compression at 8 and the file size is still larger than 50KB, drop it to 7 and see if that does it. You can fast forward in the video to the last minute to see how I changed my compression to a 6 in order to get a smaller file size. The image still has good quality though, so it works. :-)

  7. says

    Thanks for the tips! But this: “Watch out Sir Mix-a-Lot, there’s a big but.” had me laughing out loud. I wonder if I can work that phrase into a conversation without people thinking I’m crazy?

    • says

      HA! Thanks, Lorri. I LOL’d when I wrote it too. I’d love to work it into a convo too…but yeah, people may think we’re nuts!

  8. says

    Wow I need to do all of these things! I do a tiny bit of editing in iphoto, but I never even thought of changing the resolution. Maybe that’s why I keep having to buy more space. Duh!!

    • says

      Yes, Kimberly that’s probably what’s doing it! I love me some iPhoto too, but it’s not the greatest for changing the resolution and file size. Try Picnik.com or another photo editing software and you’ll see how much you save on disk space for your blog photos!

  9. says

    This was a great post! I’m so lazy about editing and cleaning up my pictures, but I could literally spend all day on Picnik if I had the chance. Thanks for these tips.

    On quick question though: How do you recommend storing pictures? I keep them on my external hard drive, but would also like to keep them online somewhere in case the hard drive becomes damaged.

    • says

      You can store some on Picnik.com and get more space if you get the premium version. I’m told the cost is minimal for the year. I keep photos on my Mac and on an external hard drive, as well as on Kodak Gallery. I like that site because I can do so much with my photos and can even send them to a Walgreens in any part of the country, which makes sharing photos with family super easy. Personally, I just really trust the Kodak brand. There are a lot of photo storing sites out there, you just have to find one that you like and trust.

  10. says

    Okay, to me that apple pie photo is boring but hey, I’m a photography snob to an extent. Haha. Brighten that baby up and it will be much prettier. Just my two cents. *ahem* Not like I’m all that bad ass a photographer either.

    Great tips for posting photos. Most of the time I am pretty good about sizing but every so often I upload an 800×1200 image and say “Whoops!”. Tisk, tisk. I know.

    Thanks for the info about SEO as well! I’ll start paying more attention to what I label my pics when I upload.

    • says

      Yep, I know that’s not the sexiest photo I could’ve used. I just wanted to illustrate how a few simple edits can make a photo pop a little. Glad you got some good take-aways for SEO, Kim!

    • says

      Honestly, it takes me about 10 minutes to edit the photos I use in a typical post. Want a time-saving tip? Edit all the photos you plan to use for the week’s posts at the same time. It would probably take about an hour depending on how many photos you plan to use in each post that week. But, it will save you a lot of time when you get ready to hit ‘publish!’

  11. says

    I LOVED this post! I’m a new Momcomm fan and I’m a HUGE fan now! I just got her e-book and I’m loving it. I’ve heard about people naming their photos for SEO but I had no idea what it meant. Thanks for making it seem so easy!

  12. says

    I’m so excited about the tips in your post. I’ve played around with picnik for a few minutes and am going to upgrade to the premium – it’s so much fun. Yes – it’s in the details and this makes the details pop. And naming my photos – I had no idea it would help with the SEO. so – thank you, thank you. I’m going to check out Kodak Gallery – you’re great. My first time here.

  13. says

    That’s good to know about the file name. I’m bad about renaming files or just giving them names that only make sense to me. With pinterest being so popular now I also make sure to watermark all my images with my blog URL.

  14. says

    Melissa, is it true that because Google does not read images, that we should have a sentence or two BEFORE any images on a post that summarizes the whole post? Laurie from TipJunkie says to do that and I wondered what your opinion was.

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