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2 min read

How to Avoid 5 Common Image Mistakes on Your Website



"Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words."- Arthur Brisbane, newspaper editor 

Images are a must. They draw interest, convey emotion, and amplify your message. But it's easy for busy changemakers to overlook essential quality checks so your images don't work as hard for you as they can. Here are the 5 common image mistakes made on websites and blogs (and how to avoid them!)

1. Borrowed

Sure, lots of people use images found on the Internet. Maybe it's that cute cat meme or beautiful sunset photo you’ve been searching for. But, don’t do it. You need to be sure you have rights to use the images you use. Several companies, including some that offer free images, impose steep fines and threaten a lawsuit if you use their image improperly or without permission. Even that “free” image you found on Creative Commons may not be licensed for the commercial use. There are Internet crawlers that search for these illegally used images. Be safe, use your own photos and graphics. If you can afford it, hire a professional photographer (and make sure you buy the rights).

2. Wrong Size

You’ve created a great image, so you quickly upload it. Hold on! Where is that image going? Uploading an image that is too big will slow down your page load speeds, which costs you points with Google search, and will likely cause visitors to leave your site before you get a chance to engage with them. Images that are too small will appear stretched and pixilated.

Sizing your images

That big image that covers the entire home page may be only 1,500 pixels wide. The original photos on your iPhone or other smart phone can be much larger. If you are replacing an image, or using an existing website page or post template, you can match the size of an image already on your site by opening the image in a new tab and using the inspect element tool. Once you know the size, there are many free image editors you can use.

3. No Optimization

Image optimization is similar to image size, and certainly image size is a big part of optimization. Even if your photos is the correct pixel size, it can still be a very large file. Use an image editor like PhotoShop, or a free online tool like You can vastly reduce file size without sacrificing image quality. And smaller image files mean faster page load times.


4. Weak Alt Tag and File Name

So, this is an easy thing to forget, and sometimes takes some effort to put in place. But, alt tags let you apply words to describe an image, which is especially important for search engines and adaptive or visual impairment readers. If you are doing all of your SEO work to try and rank higher for page search, why would you give away a chance to optimize your page for search? And while we’re at it, make sure your image file name has some meaning. Many website tools will use the file name as the alt tag unless you change it. A file name like “Best-Organic-Dog-Treats.jpg” will score with search engines much better than “Img_01254.jpg”.

5. Missing Photo Link

You’ve got that photo drawing all that attention. Use it as a link to deeper content. Your website or blog may do that automatically if you are using the image as a featured image. If you are using a small version of a photo but want to let folks see a larger version, upload both and create a photo link. You won’t always want to link a photo to something, but use it when you can.

Avoid the 5 common image mistakes above and you can enjoy the benefits of using lots of hard-working images effectively on your website to change the status quo.

P.S. Bonus: Weak Composition

Okay, so this one is more subjective. Rather than right or wrong, it is more like better or worse. But if you're going to be taking more photos yourself, check out what Brad has to say about photo composition first.


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