Constantin Stanciu / Alamy Stock Photo

How misusing images can impact your business

Using images on your website is almost essential to engage your audience. But there are some basic principles you need to follow to make sure they have the desired impact. If you ignore these principles it can have a huge impact on your businesses reputation and on the success of your website.

Here’s a rundown of the key principles to follow:

1. NEVER use a watermarked image

What is a watermark? A watermark is a digital overly on an image designed to provide copyright protection. They are used by stock agencies and copyright owners to protect their images online.

Why is it so bad to use a watermarked image? I always cringe a little when I visit a website and see a watermarked image. I assume most people (especially web designers) know that you need to pay for an image if you’re going to use it on a website or to promote your business, but it turns out that may not be the case. Recently I visited a website for our local Gym and it was full of watermarked stock images, not only did it make the website look bad, it also made me question the company and their ethics. Using a watermarked image can imply you haven’t bought a license and you don’t have the right permissions to use the image.

The solution – buy a license and get access to a non-watermarked version of the image
There are two ways to solve this issue:
1. If you bought a license for the image you should have been given an unwatermarked version of the file, if that isn’t the case, get back in touch and ask for a new file.
2. If you found the image online with a watermark, you simply need to contact the photographer or agency it has come from (usually the name will be on the watermark) to license it and get the unwatermarked version.

2. Make sure your image is the right size

Using a large image can slow down the load speed of your website which can have a huge (no pun intended) impact on your SEO credentials and can be annoying for visitors.

Using a small image can make your image pixelated or blurry when it is resized which won’t look good!

The solution – buy the right file size and resize your images before you use them

Images that are too big: With images there is a common misconception that the bigger the file the better the result, but this isn’t true when it comes to putting your images online. The key thing to consider here is getting the right balance between image quality and the size of the file. Find out more on our file sizes page, or if you’re using a hosting site try a plug in that automatically compresses your image without losing any visual quality.

Images that are too small: When you buy an image online you will most likely be offered a range of file sizes, make sure you buy the size you need or slightly bigger to avoid pixilation when you use it.

3. You haven’t optimised your images to work hard for you online

Google loves images so you need to make sure your images are working as hard for you as they can when it comes to SEO.

Always include Alt text: Alt text is the word or phrase used to describe an image in the world of HTML (the back end of your website). Images don’t just play an important role in the design of your site, but they also have a big impact on SEO. When you include images on your page and don’t annotate them correctly they aren’t visible to the Google bots that are crawling your site.

The solution – always annotate your images and treat them as equal to your copy

One of the easiest ways to boost your images for SEO is to make sure the alt text and file names used accurately describe what is in the image. Whenever you are using images you always need to think about the front end and the back end of your site. Cater to the reader first but always think about the Google bots too.