Blog Best Practices: Photography Optimization
There are so many blog best practices to consider, and photography plays a huge role in most blogs. If your blog is photo-heavy (and even if it’s not), this post is for you! Photography optimization is one of the most overlooked blog best practices, yet it has an impact on your SEO! Learn how to optimize images for web with this simple checklist.
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Blog Best Practices: Photography Optimization
There are quite a few things to think about when optimizing images for web. But beyond using images in a blog post specifically, there are a few things to think about when planning out your photography optimization. First, think beyond the blog. How could these photos be used in the future? Where your photos are used impacts how you optimize them.
Here are a few ways the photos you use in blog posts can be used elsewhere.
- Social Media
- High resolution requests from magazines or brands
- Graphic design creation
- Pinterest Amplification
- Blog Branding
Blogging photography has the potential to be so much more than simply an image in one specific blog post. So here is how to optimize for these different scenarios, as well as standard blog post optimization tips!
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Best camera for bloggers
First, let’s cover the basics of blog photography. What camera do bloggers use? Thankfully, there are many camera options that will work well for bloggers.
If you are a beginner blogger, you can get away with using a high quality smart phone. Make sure the camera is superior for your phone choice. I have used my iPhone when in a pinch and it works especially well for close up shots.
However, once you’re ready to take your blog to the next level, photography plays a huge role in that elevation. High quality, low grain, edited images are essential for specific blog niches. Interior photography, like my niche, especially relies on high quality images to elevate my blog beyond a hobby blog.
To really achieve high quality imagery, you will want to invest in a DSLR professional camera. I use Nikon, however Canon is a wonderful brand as well. Both of these brands will suffice for blogging. If your blog is specifically a photography blog, chances are you already have a higher quality professional camera. This is a great example of how niche topic determines the importance of your photography.
Niches that don’t rely on photography, but rather on graphics, like finance or SEO blogs, don’t have as big of a need for a high quality camera. On the other hand, photography, interior design, and fashion blogs are all examples of blogs that will benefit from professional cameras for their photography.
Of course, there is a middle ground as well! However, the majority of bloggers will do fine with beginner or mid-level Nikon or Canon cameras.
How to Use a DSLR Camera
The number of bloggers I’ve talked to who are afraid of DSLRs is significant! Photography is a skill. It must be learned and practiced to understand. I highly recommend taking a beginner-level DSLR class if you are new to photography. Simple terms like aperture, exposure and ISO can be very confusing without the knowledge behind them that a seasoned photography can offer.
You can take these at most camera stores and also find many good tutorials online.
Once you’ve learned the basics, take the time to really learn how to use your camera. Outdoor photography is much different than interior photography. Learn how to use lighting to your benefit. Play with angles and aperture. The more you practice this skill the more comfortable you will be using a professional camera over your smart phone.
One big benefit of using a DSLR is that it can produce high resolution images that are much cleaner than a phone. So keep that in mind as you consider working with brands and publishing opportunities!
Blogging best practices: image optimization
The process of optimizing your images for your blog isn’t overly complicated. It is simply a step that many people overlook. When you optimize images for web, you are delivering them in the lowest possible file size without reducing their image quality.
DSLR cameras generate high pixel images that are crisp and beautiful. But those high resolution photos, with large file sizes, will negatively impact your blog by:
- Slowing down your site speed
- Laboring the load time
- Reduced SEO Reach
- Blowing out your site design
To fix this problem, here is a quick checklist of steps to take to optimize your images for your blog.
- Choose the right file format: PNG v. JPEG
- PNG offers uncompressed images for higher quality photos, however has a larger file size
- JPEG offers compressed images with a slightly reduced image quality, but lower file size
- Edit Image Dimensions
- Most DSLRs spit out images with 4000×3000 pixels and up without editing. This is great for print, but not for web!
- In editing, resize your images for your blog to a max of 1500px wide (or smaller). This will automatically reduce your file size drastically.
- Compress photos before uploading to your blog.
- This can be done within your editing software or,
- You can use sites like TinyPNG or JPEG Mini to bulk compress images after editing
Image Optimization Plug Ins
The three steps listed above will optimize your images prior to uploading them to your blog. I prefer this method personally.
There are also plugins that you can use in WordPress specifically. The reason I prefer not to use a plugin is because plugins tend to mess with my WordPress theme. If it isn’t essential, then I don’t add it! However, your theme may be more forgiving. Here is a short list of some options available for WordPress users that you can investigate.
- WP Smush
Alt Text & Image Titles
Once you have optimized the size of your images and loaded them to your blog, you also need to optimize the data behind them for SEO. Alt text and image titles do matter, but specifically, alt text is most important.
Alt text is what screen readers use to describe images on a webpage for visually impaired readers. It is also what google crawls to determine the topic and relevance of a webpage!
Add your Alt text within your media library with descriptive words of what the image is of or what the purpose of the image is. If you can naturally incorporate your blog post keywords, that is a big benefit!
For example, the image above of my garden was included in a blog post about English gardens. The alt text describes what the image is, while also using my keyword: english garden.
Titles can also be used for your images. To make it easier, I re-name my images in editing and this auto-populates the tile in my media library. Your image title should never be IMG9850.jpg! Rename it appropriately, keeping it short and sweet.
Blog Best Practices: Optimizing for Pinterest
The next area of blog best practices that I see people overlook is optimizing for Pinterest. Bloggers should have a strategy for Pinterest when it comes to imagery! Pinterest is like Google for images and is very valuable to drive traffic. There are a few imagery tips that will save you time and effort as you optimize your images for your blog at the same time.
- Enable Pinterest Rich Pins
- Use the Grow Social WordPress Plugin
- Shoot Photography/Create Graphics that are vertical
Rich Pins & Grow Social
Rich pins are a huge time saver! These pins automatically sync the information you’ve added to your images within WordPress to your Pins. It is something you have to apply for, but well worth the simple steps to make sure that every image you pin from your website has an appropriate title and description auto-populated.
You can learn more about rich pins here.
Working in conjunction with rich pins, Grow Social is a plugin that allows you to add the Pinterest specific data you want to be pulled when pinning from your website. As you can see above, Pinterest pulled my Title and Description automatically from what I loaded into Social Grow.
This makes using Pinning tools like Tailwind much easier! No more pinning images with blank titles or descriptions because all the work is done in the editor ahead of time!
Pinterest Likes Vertical, Long Form Images
One quick and final note on optimizing images for Pinterest. Pinterest favors vertical, long form images! Horizontal images are beautiful to display on your blog, however Pinterest Pins perform best as vertical images. They are easier to see and stay on screen longer as users scroll.
Graphic Design Imagery
For those who rely on graphics rather than photos, the above information still applies! You can create beautiful graphics very simply on sites like Canva that require no graphic design education. Using graphics to illustrate your main topic of a blog post is a great way to drive home the point and provide useful illustrations.
Keep in mind that any graphics that are formatted as images can be pinned from your website. So make sure to take the above steps to ensure it has a keyword rich title and description!
High Resolution Imagery
The last thing we will discuss is a quick side note! As you capture imagery for your blog, make sure to consider whether or not the photos should be saved as high resolution files. If you are trying to pitch a magazine, print-ready files go a long way in showing off your skills.
Similarly, if you are working with a brand, make sure to note if you need to save your photos as high-res options per your contract. There is nothing more frustrating than optimizing your images for blog/social for a brand campaign, deleting the original file, and then having the brand ask for a high resolution file once it’s too late!
I hope that these blog best practices on blog imagery have been helpful to you! If you are new to blogging, make sure to check out my post, 10 Realistic Truths of How to Start a Lifestyle Blog & Make Money!
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What step are you going to take on your blog imagery after reading this post?
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