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5 Best Practices for Using Images in Legal Marketing for 2023

We’ve looked at the role of images in search engine optimization (SEO) and online legal content marketing a lot over the past few years, covering a wide variety of issues like:

But SEO and online content marketing changes all the time, so we thought it would be best to revisit the topic.

Here are 5 best practices for using images in online legal content marketing in 2023 and, hopefully, at least a few years after that.

1. Decide Whether It’s Worth It to Use an Image

For law firms, images are not always worth the time, effort, and risk. Finding a good one can be difficult. Finding a good one with an image license that you can live with is even more frustrating. Also, remember to check for hidden trademarks inside the image that the photographer missed.

If you don’t want to spend a significant amount of money on an image database like Shutterstock, this process can be time consuming and frustrating.

In many cases, the benefits of including an image in a post pale in comparison to the hassle of including it.

Yes, images help break up the text of an article so it’s easier to read. But so can headers, tables, lists, and the white space created by short, tight paragraphs.

Yes, images help your site rank better for image searches. But that’s not how the vast majority of people search for lawyers or law firms.

And yes, studies have shown that social media posts that have an image get twice the engagement of posts that do not have an image in it. But, as we’ll go over in next month’s blog, we are increasingly of the opinion that social media marketing is no longer worth it for law firms.

But if you do decide to include images, there are steps to take to do it right.

2. Name the Image File Appropriately

Before you upload the image to your content management system, like WordPress, you have an opportunity to name the file. While people will only ever see the file’s name if they open the image in a new tab and look at the URL, search engines “see” the file name all the time and they use it to determine what the image is about. Taking the couple of seconds necessary to change the name from “Image1” to something that describes what is in the picture and what the post is about will help the image rank better for image searches.

3. Make Sure the Image Adds Value to the Page

Don’t just slap an image into a random spot in a post. Instead, choose a picture that draws out meaning from the article or that helps to explain or visualize a key concept you’re writing about. Put the image near the text that it most helps readers to understand.

4. Optimize the Image

Aside from videos, images are the largest files that web browsers have to download for your website visitor to see. The more images you have on a page, and the larger their file size, the longer it will take for the page to load. If it takes too long, odds are that your visitor will get frustrated and leave before the page loads. Additionally, search engines tend to penalize website that have bad upload times.

Optimizing your image is the act of reducing its file size as much as possible without affecting the value of the image on the page. In many cases, you can cut the file size down considerably without any impact on the image – known as “lossless” optimization.

There’s a surprising amount of nuance in image optimization, but the vast majority of the time you will be best served by taking 3 simple steps:

  1. Use JPG files – they’re usually smaller than PNGs or GIFs and nearly as high-quality
  2. Compress the image – there are plenty of web tools like TinyPNG or WordPress plugins like Optimole that will reduce the file size for you (often by more than 50%) with minimal effect on the image
  3. Resize it – you don’t need to show your website visitors an image with a resolution of 4000 x 4000. Even if it is a full-width image, like the one below, you can go down to 800 x 800 and no one – aside from those who use a massive computer screen – will know the difference

Here is an image that has not been optimized. It’s 5112 x 3408 pixels and 4.47 MB.

Beautiful a colorful landscape with a sunset, mountains, and a lake

Here is the same image, but optimized. It’s 900 x 600 and 887 KB, over 80 percent smaller than the one above.

Beautiful a colorful landscape with a sunset, mountains, and a lake

You can certainly find some differences (hint: look at the image quality of the steps in the foreground and the figure sitting on the dock), but you really have to look for them.

5. Describe the Image in the Alt Text

Browsers use an image’s alt text to describe the picture to people who cannot see it – whether because they are visually impaired, use browser accessibility programs like screen readers for other reasons, or have bad enough internet connections that they disable images.

Search engines tap into this function of an image’s alt text to get another glance at what the image is about.

You can tap into this SEO opportunity by describing the image in such a way that is both beneficial to people who can’t see the image and to you as the site owner. By using targeted keywords in the description, you can give search engines a clue about what the image – and the page – should rank well for. It’s not much, but every point in the SEO game counts.