Think visual: picking the right image for your content

So you’ve researched your audience, subject matter and written your post with a nice catchy SEO-driven headline. Now it is just a matter of uploading it to the site. Then you realise you have to add an image.

This the frequent reality for a lot of people looking to illustrate their content marketing. Yet in truth the image is often the first thing that engages the reader. The saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ exists for this very reason. Incidentally, in terms of enjoyment, the saying has been found to be false. 

The thing is that picking the right image – one that is not only going to have impact but is relevant – can be difficult. Occasionally, the subject can be dry or simply lead to nothing other than a headshot. Here are a few pointers:

Avoid the boring option 
Always go for impact. For example, if you can show people engaged in an activity that will be an easy win. For this reason, GoPro is always good to write about because you can grab free stills from its films.

Next make sure it’s relevant 

The trick here is to ensure that the picture and the headline tie in with one another – and that the headline ties in with the copy. This allows you to choose something metaphorical if the subject is difficult to illustrate. For example, we used a picture of an old Fifties’ money delivery system to illustrate a feature about banking software.

Usage, usage, usage

If you’ve ever worked in a newsroom, you’ll know that one of the first questions you should ask when grabbing a pic is whether you have permission to use it. Ideally, you don’t want to pay for pictures at all; the fact is that a great many of them are expensive, especially for commercial use. And that includes content marketing. One way around this is to grab stills from video or creative common images that can be found via Flickr. Another route is to use older images that are out of copyright.

In short, using a picture without sorting usage and permissions upfront can prove a costly experience. If you are determined to run something that is owned by Associated Press or Getty, make sure you speak to them first.

Stock libraries 

There are a number of stock libraries, both free and commercial. The drawback is, however, that you can spot a stock image from a thousand paces. If you are determined to use stock images this source is quite good. 


Lastly, have a think about doing it yourself. We all have easy access to cameras via smart phones and the beauty of the web is that pix needn’t be high resolution. It might not have the impact of GoPro, but a picture of some scales to illustrate the question of whether you should prioritise SEO over editorial quality can be easily done DIY-style. And Piktochart can help you create infographics using its click and drag interface.

Think visual: picking the right image for your content is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.