Click, Convert, Commit: Choosing Photos for Engaging and Optimized Content

How to pick the right feature photo by subject matter, visual design, captions, and keywords.

Content marketing often focuses on written content as the central focus of a strategy to attract website or blog visitors and engage with them. However, choosing photos correctly to accompany the text can greatly enhance the success of a page to communicate its message clearly and effectively. In fact, images are necessary as statistics show that article with photos get 94% more total views and those with designated feature images are more likely to be shared on social media platforms. When selecting which photos to use with your post, there are several important items and objectives to consider. By taking the time to assess the following characteristics of your potential photos, you can ensure that your photos both align with and support your overall content marketing strategy.

Subject Matter

Any content developer knows that audience attention span is short and time is of the essence when it comes to capturing viewer interest and converting visitors into leads or customers. As a result, photos should be directly related to the subject of your page or post. Select photos that illustrate your text and thereby guide your reader’s visualization of the subject matter and their potential relationship with your brand. Make sure to include both the aspects of your product or service that you wish to highlight and the type of audience you hope to attract. Most importantly, your photos should NOT distract the reader from the topic of your page or post. By choosing relevant photos that either exhibit your product or service or spark the reader’s interest, photos can be used to draw your audience in to finish reading and continue exploring your site.

Stock photography platforms are great resources to use when locating appropriate photos to complement your text. While the assets may appear endless, remember not to get lost in the wide variety of available photos. Instead, maintain the focus of your post or page by adhering to the subject matter test.

Visual Design

When selecting photos, it is also important to consider how the various elements and principles of visual design can also enhance your content marketing strategy. Whether using your own images or using stock photos, it’s necessary to consider the image orientation, contrast, focus, and use of space. Horizontal orientation is best used with photos used to break-up text, while vertical photos can be wrapped by the text and encourage the reader to continue moving through the text. Colorful pictures with high contrast and a strategic focus on the main subject can be highly effective at quickly impressing the importance and relevance of the photo on the viewer. Finally, pay attention to the use of space in the image to ensure that it is uncluttered and balanced for visual pleasure.

Beyond these components of photo design and composition, add variety to your content by incorporating different styles of graphic design. Choosing clear, stylized images will add spice to your content, while still maintaining focus on your message.

Envato’s GraphicRiver provides a wealth of assets to consider, from infographics to illustrations.


Content writing doesn’t quite stop when inserting images into your page or post. Instead, use captions as an integral part of your content strategy for cohesion. When selecting photos, brainstorm captions that can be used to advance your message and tie the subject of your image into the larger argument you are making or information you are communicating. If you make it a rule to select images with a caption in mind, you can ensure that your photos are consistently tying into your overall marketing and contributing to the style and voice of your writing.

Overall, captions should be short, sweet, and if appropriate, even can be comical. Most importantly, captions should be as creative as your topic and the images they are describing. In this way, your readers will happily move through the subject and caption of your text with motivation to continue reading and arrive with you to your final conclusion.


Finally, every content marketer knows the importance of keywords for SEO and naturally, keywords also play an important role in how photos are used for content marketing. As you write your content, parse out which keywords you would like to highlight with your choice of photos. Then, from the start of your image search, use those keywords to find images in different databases. Again, the availability of stock photography can be overwhelming, but maintaining focus on your keywords will ensure alignment with your content strategy.

When reviewing your content before publication, revisit those keywords to successfully optimize your full page or post to the fullest extent. Achieve this by incorporating your keywords into your image name, caption, alt-text, and description. In your caption, remember to keep your use of keywords casual and conversational as content should never be dictated and overwhelmed by keywords to the point of turning off your readers and those search engine spiders. Although keywords play an important role in your image strategy, your primary focus will always remain on the quality and content of the image.

Analysis of a Feature Image

Crossing the Border for School, The Atlantic


Subject Matter: A mixture of men and women will allow readers of both sexes to relate to this image. The group also appears to be related in some way, perhaps a family. This grouping can also draw empathy from viewers.

Visual Design: The lack of contrast around the borders of the image conveys the sense of confusion and uncertainty felt by the subjects that are displayed in slightly more focus. Even their feet are blurred exhibiting their motion of across the border. The viewer is drawn into this journey by the placement of the subjects far away at the end of a visual tunnel. The lack of clarity and contrast in the image complement the article’s topic about the nation’s blurred borders and complex immigration policy that is on the verge of major change.

Caption: Because the context of the image is unclear, the caption clarifies what is happening and where the photo was captured. The caption humanizes the article and brings to the reader’s awareness the reality of daily living on two sides of the border.

Keywords: Border crossing


With consideration to these four aspects of your photos, subject matter, visual design, captions, and keywords, you can greatly maximize how images enhance your content for an effective marketing strategy. Photos are an important way to establish rapport with your reader, yet they should never distract or stray away from your overall topic. Use these tips and resources to develop your content marketing with visual assets that spotlight important conclusions of your content and inspire your viewers to click, convert, and commit!


Header image: 

Mariel Tavakoli

About the Author Mariel Tavakoli

Mariel is a writer, content marketer, ESL teacher, and writing coach. She loves all things cultural exchange and is always planning her next trip. She tweets @mstavakoli and writes on her website.