The basic idea behind using photos with text content is to add more value to the content by making it more visually appealing and memorable for the audience.
However, the excessive use of images by stuffing them all over our content is definitely lowering the user experience.
How Does Image Stuffing Lowering User Experience?
There’s a recent online trend driving me crazy. I call it “Image Stuffing.” It’s the practice to use too many images on a website to improve user engagement with content.
Search engines focus on good user experience makes blogs appear as Pinterest boards. Websites trying to keep visitors as much possible to increase the “time spent on page” which is a Google ranking factor.
Image Stuffing should definitely be included in Google’s webspam algorithm because it is equally annoying as those pop-ups pushing you to buy something.
Everyone including the most influential bloggers today is stuffing their pages with photos in every two lines of text. They upload very large photos that make you feel to you need to zoom out to see the page. It is too hard to navigate and definitely doesn’t serve to improve user experience.
You keep scrolling 2 minutes on the page and the content you consume is 2 paragraphs only. It is helping site owners since it increases the time spent on the page but lowers user experience since the user cannot skim the text easily.
I agree that images have certain functions to keep our readers engaged. It complements our text-based content and saves it from to be boring.
They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
I definitely agree with this idea.
However, doing something good in excess amounts makes it harmful.
Do you really believe using 15 or more images per 2000 word blog post improves user experience?
I am calling numbers here because I am talking about the content that underestimates the reader’s intelligence.
Is it really helping to improve the user experience?
I don’t think so.
Unless you are writing a “how-to” content that requires you using many images to describe something, it doesn’t help anything. Even if you write a tutorial post, it is not normal to use many images since it significantly lowers the user experience.
I have a better idea.
There is a type of multimedia called video that is much more efficient to display visual content, and it comes with the bonus of voice.
Why not using video instead of “image stuffing” that lowers user experience and slowdowns our website?
It is much easier to make a single Youtube video and embed it on our website than using 15 images that require image selection, SEO optimization, and compression.
Having too many images definitely slowdowns a website. You can use the fastest Webhosting, cleanest WordPress theme, and even a CDN service, it still doesn’t change the fact that image spammed pages will not load fast.
Keep in mind each element on a page creates additional requests from the server enough by itself to kill our site performance.
I believe in the next few years Google will definitely take action to stop this trend since it is not helping users and not sustainable for the web.
What is The Magic Number?
There is no golden ratio nor a magic number to be used as an optimum image density on a webpage. Use your common sense to find out how many images on a blog post you need to use.
In my opinion, never use more than 3-7 images per post. If you have a really long post like 5000+ long, and you want to use 20 images then good luck!
What you can do instead?
If your niche is a good fit consider using tables and charts. Almost every blog can benefit to some degree from the tables.
Also, using tables is considered as implementing “structured data” which is a better representation of your content to the search engines.
You can consider creating an infographic that allows you to represent larger amount of data on a single image.
Place images strategically so that people can continue to engage with your content. Use images to increase the credibility of your text-based content. If your content responds to the question of “What happens if you get bit by a hamster?” It is a great idea to use an image when a hamster bites your thumb.
Maintain a good balance of text/photo interval to prevent large chunks of text or multiple images crowding together.
What if your content doesn’t need any image at all?
It is not a must to include images in every piece of content. However, there may be an SEO benefit to include an image in our content. Because Google is a bot and its algorithm may credit having an image on our pages.
You can get your images licensed so that other people cannot use it on their websites.
Creative Commons website has a helpful tool to help you choose the license you want to request, add metadata to the photo, and create the CSS code for an icon to be displayed on your website.
In prior deciding which form of license you want to apply for your images, define how you would allow any other person to use or edit your images. By posting your images online without licensing them, you let others use them for their goals.
You can use Google or Copyscape to make a reverse image search and find out if your images are used on other websites without your consent.