Thanks to the Pokerbank for this guest blog post while the PAP Team is is Cyprus for The Poker Conference.

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Images

If you browse the forums and look through the threads started by newbies in the industry looking for advice, you are are highly likely to spot a more experienced poker affiliate using everyone’s favorite saying… “content is king”. This saying pops up about as frequently as a 3 way link exchange offer from India in your inbox, yet I don’t believe that enough affiliates are actually scratching beneath the surface of what the word ‘content’ is.

Your content is more than just pulling up the word count feature in Word to make sure you’ve exceeded the minimal threshold for an ‘article’. If you’re just writing your article and then pasting it straight onto your site, you’re missing out on giving it that extra spark to help make the casual browser interested in what you have to say. That missing spark is a simple, effective, yet all too often underused images

Why are images useful?

By adding images to your articles, you are giving a visual idea of what the content is about to the visitor. As you know, many visitors to your site are going to be browsing through the pages looking for something that interests them. The majority of people are not always prepared to read through an article to find out what it’s all about, which is why you can take advantage of cleverly placed images to catch their attention and persuade them to read on.

In addition to this, images of poker room tables or lobbies in the middle of content can do a lot for getting visitors in the mood to start playing poker, or to push them to give a certain room a try. Just as the sight or smell of a steak can start you salivating and ready to eat, a cleverly placed screenshot of a poker room in action can entice a number of your visitors to sign up and start playing.

For example if you take a look at my 10 reasons to play poker as a student page, it utilizes both an article-accompanying image at the top to catch the readers attention, and another table screenshot further down into the article. The image of the table may seem a little random, but it gives the casual reader a brief insight into the world of online poker, helping to bridge the gap between the notion that online poker is something that ‘other people do’ and actually giving it a try for yourself.


Where do you get your images from?

The great thing about using images in articles is that they do not have to be completely related to the article itself; most images seem to fit in regardless. Just pick something remotely on topic, and you’re away. Nonetheless, the best place to find good images is www.sxc.hu, which is the best resource for free stock photos I have come across. Alternatively if you have a little money to spare, you can have a browse through www.istockphoto.com.

If you are feeling particularly savvy, you can create you own little images in Photoshop or something similar. They do not all have to be masterpieces, as anything to break up the content will work well. For example, in the student poker link above, all I have done is picked up a fancy font from www.dafont.com and worked a little magic with a basic background and font colours. Works like a charm.


Placement of Images

My personal favourite position for a standard article-accompanying image is in the top right-hand corner. In addition, I like to have a nice space between the text and the image so that they’re not brushing up against one another. In my opinion this helps to keep the article content clear and give the image some breathing space. I really can’t think of any clever terminology here to explain why I like to add some spacing, so let’s just say it makes it look nicer.

As a note, to get the text to wrap around an image, set the image to align=”right” (or left depending on where you want it to go exactly).

If I intend on adding any more images further down the page, I like to alternate from left to right to help keep the page interesting. Again don’t ask me why, but from my own personal point of view it makes the layout of the page appear more attractive and eye catching. Aligning all the images in an article to one side of the page is a little like placing a round table in the corner of a room; you can’t explain why, but deep down your gut is telling you that it just doesn’t look right.


Size of Images

Sizing your images for both file size and actual image size in pixels is important for good overall page design. As far as pixel sizing goes in typical top-right-corner accompanying images, I like to try and strike a balance between prominent yet subtle, without having the image become overly invasive on the article itself. I would say that having a square image that is about 25-35% the width of the content section width is a decent enough size to accomplish this, but this always varies from one site to another.

When it comes to file size, you want to make these files as small as possible without cutting back too much on the quality. The best way to reduce the file size is through programs like Photoshop, as you have a fair amount of control over both filesize and file type. But for those of you that do not have Photoshop, you can use this free online bad boy instead.

Summary

I’d just like to finish by saying that it is well worth smartening up your content with a few images if you have a few spare hours in the day. Not only does it make your site look more appealing, it will help with keeping those visitors browsing around you site a little longer, which in turn will give you more opportunities to try and convert them.

There is no need to go crazy and add as many images as you can, as this will only cause problems when it comes to page loading times. Instead, think outside the box a little, and think about what you would find interesting if you were a visitor looking at your page. It’s only going to be beneficial if you can entertain or teach your visitors with your content, as well as give them something good to view at the same time.