Copywriting and images: striking the balance

Copywriting and images: striking the balance

content with imagesOur CEO, Emily Hill, recently co-presented an event at the British Library with photographer Franck Jehanne from Kalory. This article builds upon their discussion about the need for business websites to give users top quality images and copy – not one or the other.
As a copywriting agency, we are primarily concerned with copywriting services, but even we recognise that a website that contained only text would be awful. The way a website looks and the images that accompany the copy are not only very important, but can have a big impact on the performance of content.

Why images are important for web content

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” does have some truth behind it. Our brains can process visuals 60,000 faster than words and 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual (The Next Web).
As a result, written content that includes images in the text consistently performs better than text-only pieces.
As this graph demonstrates, articles across all genres receive a significant increase in views when images are added:
Skyword graph - views for articles with images
Images are also useful for increasing effectiveness when sharing articles via social media. Fast-growing social media channels Instagram and Pinterest are extremely image-driven, and Facebook posts with images generate 50% more likes and 100% more comments than those without (Hubspot).

Original or stock images?

We have established that images can help boost the performance of content, but not all images are created equal.
Wherever you can, use original images. Original images not only help your content stand out, they can also help your content rank better in Google. Although Google can’t yet interpret the content of the image, it can tell if it’s original by looking at the pixels. So even if you eventually allow other sites to use it, Google knows it originated from you.
If you’re not in a position to commission original images, then stock images are a viable alternative. Stock imagery has moved on from the posed, clichéd images of the past, and if you think laterally you can nearly always come up with a creative angle to illustrate your content.
If stock images are out of reach, there are lots of creative commons images available for free on the internet, both from sites such as Unsplash and on image sharing sites like Flickr. Always check the licence carefully before you use, as some require attribution.
No matter where your images are from, always add descriptive alt tags to your images. This is especially important for original images. Describing the content of the image in a will help search engines understand the content of the image, as well as the accompanying copy.

Striking the balance between copywriting and images

Although images can help increase the effectiveness of written content, don’t underestimate the importance of writing quality content – either created in house or via copywriting services.
Professional services firms, for example, need strong written content to impart their expertise and build trust. Although some visual businesses – such as interior designers and artists – can get away with primarily image driven sites to showcase their work, this imagery should still be accompanied by high quality copywriting, to ensure the whole site makes a positive and professional impact.
If you can launch a site with gorgeous imagery and compelling copy, this will equip your business with the tools it needs to demonstrate its expertise, build trust, and drive relevant traffic from search engines and social media.