Pile of photographs

Relevant images are the best complements for great content. Regardless of how interesting or engaging your post is, it can easily get lost in the shuffle without an attention-grabbing photo.

A study by Xerox shows that readers are 80% more likely to read an article if it includes colorful, visual content. Clearly, adding images to your content is beneficial but it can be a huge task to sift through endless pages of stock images to find one that fits. To help you make the best picks, here are a few tips:

1. Choose Quality



The cardinal rule of choosing stock photos is to stick to top-quality images with high resolution. Don’t let a compelling headline get muddled by a grainy, pixelated image. This drives away readers and makes your business look unprofessional. Look for a resolution of at least 72 dpi (dots per inch) for online images and 300 dpi for print images.

2. Bigger is Better

Resolution is important, but so is size – a high-quality image isn’t much good if it’s tiny. If you find an image that’s perfect except for its size, it’s possible that it’s been resized or even cropped. Poke around online to see if you can find the original version or a similar image in a size that works for your needs.

3. Learn the Lingo

One good way to narrow your search for the perfect photo is to master some common photography jargon. Searching for terms like wide angle, selective focus or silhouette can help you cut through the clutter and find the exact kind of image you have in mind.


Wide Angle


Selective Focus



4. Evoke the Right Feelings

When you’re matching images to your content, it’s normal to think in literal terms. If you’re writing a personal finance article, you’re probably searching for images related to money. However, images that evoke certain emotions tend to be far more effective than photos that have a more obvious connection to your subject matter. For a finance article, try picking images that bring confidence or security to mind and see what a difference it makes.

5. Relate to Your Target Audience

People like images that they can relate to – whether it’s pictures of people who dress like them, do the same things as them or are part of a similar demographic. Keep your target audience in mind and feature aspects of their lifestyle that resonate with them. If you do, there’s a much higher chance that they’ll engage with your content.

6. Avoid Generic Images

Woman laughing at salad

There’s a reason stock images have a less-than-stellar reputation – many of them are generic, cheesy or just plain overused. How can you let your brand’s personality shine through when you’re using images that can be found on countless other sites?

Steer clear of these “Woman Laughing Alone with Salad” clichés. Instead, dig a little deeper for something more authentic and less sales-y. If you want to find out how many other websites are using a particular image, use a service like TinEye or Google Images to perform a reverse search.

Google's "Search by Image" feature

7. Follow the Rules

This may be restating the obvious, but adhering to copyright laws and giving the proper attribution to images is crucial. There are a few different types of images you may encounter:

  • Royalty-free images: In these cases, a publisher purchases a license and is then free to use the images according to the terms of the license.
  • Public domain images: These images don’t have any restrictions or copyright claims.
  • Creative Commons images: These images may be used as long as you comply with the defined restrictions.

Finding That Perfect Match

While you won’t find us saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s no question that images help your content stand out. After all, the human brain is wired to process visual data faster than text. So, if you can get your image choice right, you’ll send your engagement and readership levels soaring.