Tag Archives: Image

Do you know what your server is capable of? Part 2

Security is a very important topic in every aspect of our company. This is why customers of the 1&1 server portfolio have numerous options for saving and protecting their projects. In part 2 of this series, we explain best practices for protecting your server.

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Best Practices for Website Images

Finger pointing to image

Effective images are necessary to attract the ideal visitors to your website. As a small business owner, you may not have the photography or design skills, so what do you do? In this article we will go over several techniques for illustrating your website.

Which images are best?

You need to select pictures that are going to get across the message you’re trying to tell. Having a stunning image of a galaxy is all well and good but if your website is about selling children’s toys it may confuse visitors. When picking an image the most important thing to ask yourself is, is this relevant and does it help tell the story of my business? You want visitors to have an idea of what your website is about before they even read anything.

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Ensuring Website Images Load Effectively and Correctly

People are often visiting your website from many distant places and using various technologies. Different devices, browsers, and screen sizes are likely to display your website inconsistently making the appearance and functionality poor. As a business owner, it is important to ensure that your website (the virtual face of your company) always looks its best.

When visitors arrive at your website, data is downloaded. That data needs to transfer quickly – 3 seconds or less –or you risk losing up to 40% of your potential customers. One way to reduce loading time is to decrease the size of your site. However, that is nearly impossible for most businesses because everything on your website is essential to showcasing your products and services. So, what do you do when your site is full of important, dynamic content?

First, check that your website is converted for mobile viewing. It is estimated that 68% of the American population will be using smartphones by 2017. Not all content viewable from desktop is possible to display on mobile and the multitude of screen sizes can result in a distorted appearance. Also, loading content on a mobile device typically takes longer than a desktop computer because of the way the data is transferred. It is important for your website to adjust to various different screen sizes and resolutions. There are various services available to easily adapt your site to a mobile version. For example, the 1&1 Mobile Website Builder allows automatic conversion of an existing website or the creation of a mobile website from scratch, with the ability to manually customize and adjust afterward as needed.

A great solution for improving the availability and performance of your website is using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).  A CDN is a network of servers located in multiple data centers around the world. By caching the content of your website on multiple servers, a CDN enables your site to load faster by connecting your visitors to the server that is closest to their location and thus limiting latency.

1&1’s CDN powered by CloudFlare uses a technology called Mirage to ensure that the images on your website look their best. Mirage works by automatically detecting screen size, device type, and connection speed. By adjusting to these specifications, Mirage is able to present your images at their optimal screen resolution for the viewer – thereby significantly accelerating loading times. For example, a smaller image can be viewed on a smaller screen without the viewer noticing any difference in graphic quality. This feature is included for free with the 1&1 Unlimited and Performance web hosting packages and Managed Servers. For even faster loading times, 1&1 CDN Plus powered by CloudFlare offers a premium image optimization technology called Polish™, hourly statistics and other features for an additional fee.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/pashaignatov

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Improve SEO by Optimizing Website Images

In the past, articles we have posted on the topic of Web design emphasize the importance of using photos to contribute to the success of your website. In addition to the basic idea of simply adding photos, this article will discuss four of the most important tips for optimizing images for your business website.

Meaningful File Names: Search engines can “read” the filenames of images, even if they are not directly displayed on the website itself. Therefore, if you have a photograph of a bicycle for example, and the filename is something descriptive such as “2013-Mountain-Bike.jpg”, the search engines will know to pair that image (and your site) with relevant search queries from users. On the other hand, a general name such as “img54321.jpg” will not be helpful in generating search traffic.

Size/Resolution: Load times of websites are a major factor not only in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but also in terms of usability and functionality from the users’ perspective. When loading a photo onto your website, it is often not necessary to include a “print-ready” resolution since it increases the file size of your website. Photos with a resolution of 72 to 96 dpi are typically sufficient for website use.

Alt Text: In the underlying code of a web page, developers can include text to accompany an image that most of the time will not be displayed on the page itself. This is referred to as “Alt text”, and its purpose is to be a placeholder for the image should the image fail to load for any reason. Instead of a blank area on the page, this text will be displayed so that the user at least as an idea of what should be displayed there. In addition to this benefit, this text can also be read by search engines, and increases the overall SEO of the website.

Captions: Each image should have a descriptive caption displayed below or to the side of it, with essential information that both your website visitors and the search engines can read. These should be separate from the image itself for optimum success. In other words, text that is included in an image itself cannot be read by search engines, and has no SEO benefit.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/kr7ysztof

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Optimize Your Website Images

In the past, articles we have posted on the topic of Web design emphasize the importance of using photos to contribute to the success of your website. In addition to the basic idea of simply adding photos, this article will discuss four of the most important tips for optimizing images for your business website.

Meaningful File Names: Search engines can “read” the filenames of images, even if they are not directly displayed on the website itself. Therefore, if you have a photograph of a bicycle for example, and the filename is something descriptive such as “2013-Mountain-Bike.jpg”, the search engines will know to pair that image (and your site) with relevant search queries from users. On the other hand, a general name such as “img54321.jpg” will not be helpful in generating search traffic.

Size/Resolution: Load times of websites are a major factor not only in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but also in terms of usability and functionality from the users’ perspective. When loading a photo onto your website, it is often not necessary to include a “print-ready” resolution since it increases the file size of your website. Photos with a resolution of 72 to 96 dpi are typically sufficient for website use.

Alt Text: In the underlying code of a web page, developers can include text to accompany an image that most of the time will not be displayed on the page itself. This is referred to as “Alt text”, and its purpose is to be a placeholder for the image should the image fail to load for any reason. Instead of a blank area on the page, this text will be displayed so that the user at least as an idea of what should be displayed there. In addition to this benefit, this text can also be read by search engines, and increases the overall SEO of the website.

Captions: Each image should have a descriptive caption displayed below or to the side of it, with essential information that both your website visitors and the search engines can read. These should be separate from the image itself for optimum success. In other words, text that is included in an image itself cannot be read by search engines, and has no SEO benefit.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/kr7ysztof

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Take the Best Exterior Photos for Your Real Estate Website

As a real estate agent, how do you present the properties you are selling online to immediately catch the eye of potential buyers? For “big-ticket” items, such as an apartment or a house, it’s usually worth the investment to hire a professional photographer to get the most appealing photos of the property. In case you are unable to afford that investment, or think you can take proper photos yourself, please refer to the following tips for taking exceptional photos to display online for new home buyers.

These tips refer to photographs of the exterior of the home. For inside photos, check out our next article.

  • Firstly and most importantly, before taking photos, be sure to tidy up the areas around the house that will be visible in the final images. This includes the outside of the house as well as the inside. Put away gardening equipment, rake leaves, mow the yard, etc. A half hour of minor cleaning can make a huge difference with how the house is perceived.
  • Make sure you are using a camera that can produce digital photos in a high-enough resolution. Print-quality resolution is not necessary, of course, but they should still be a high enough resolution to be easily viewed on a computer without being blurred.
  • Even when shooting outside, be sure to open the drapes and blinds in the windows of the house. In pictures, closed drapes make the house appear uninviting, while having everything open gives a more welcome feeling to the viewer.
  • Trim any bushes or shrubs that may be obstructing the view of the house. A potential buyer will be interested in seeing as much of the house as possible online first before seeing it in person.
  • While it is important to be up front about any problems the house may have, avoid taking photos of so-called “problem areas,” and instead strive to paint the house in the best light. Any problems with the house can be reviewed when the buyer visits the property.
  • Pay attention to the angle at which you are photographing the property. A low angle, with the sun at your back, provides a more professional look and makes the house look larger.
  • Make sure that the photos are not too busy. When a potential home buyer is reviewing the photos, they will be turned off by a lot of cars or people in the background, as it will make the house seem not as private or quiet. Obviously if the house is in the city, this would be an exception and unavoidable.
  • If the property is located near an attractive landmark, such as a park or lake, be sure to take a few pictures of the surrounding area to include with the house. These are major selling points for many buyers.
  • Be mindful of the weather. A photograph on a bright, sunny day will look much better than one taken on a dreary, rainy day. If you can wait an extra day or two for weather to clear up, it is definitely worth it.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/akurtz

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Take the Best Interior Photos for Your Real Estate Website

As a real estate agent, how do you present the properties you are selling online to immediately catch the eye of potential buyers? For “big-ticket” items, such as an apartment or a house, it’s usually worth the investment to hire a professional photographer to get the most appealing photos of the property. In case you are unable to afford that investment, or think you can take proper photos yourself, please refer to the following tips for taking exceptional photos to display online for new home buyers.

These tips refer to photographs of the interior of the home. For outside photos, check out our previous article.

  • Firstly and most importantly, before taking photos, be sure to tidy up the areas around the house that will be visible in the final images. This includes the outside of the house as well as the inside. Clean up children’s toys, dirty dishes, trash, etc. A half hour of minor cleaning can make a huge difference with how the house is perceived.
  • As nice as the furniture inside the home might be, it will still make the house look cluttered if there is a lot of it in the room. Keep the furniture and other decorations in the house to a minimum, and the photos will make the rooms appear to be larger and more appealing to a potential buyer.
  • Colors can be beneficial for catching the eye of a viewer. Photos of the rooms that turn out to be very bland and boring might not be received as well.
  • When shooting areas where trashcans are present, either avoid shooting them to begin with, or ensure that they are empty, to give the home a cleaner look and feel.
  • If you are unable to hire a professional photographer, at least pay attention to the very basics of high-quality photography. Use a wide-angle lens to make the room appear larger, and take photos from a tripod for stability.
  • Lighting is everything when shooting pictures indoors. Open up as many drapes and blinds as possible to let the natural light in. A dark room results in a dark image, which doesn’t display the house in a welcoming way, and doesn’t properly show off the features of the room.
  • Also in terms of lighting, keep the light at your back while shooting, or else the contrast of the light with your camera can make the room look darker than it actually is.
  • Be mindful of where you are in the room. If you are trying to showcase the size of the room, stand in the doorway just outside of it to make it look as big as possible. When showing other angles, stand in the corner as much as possible.
  • Finally, while any damage or problems with the home should be made known, it is best to avoid shooting photos of anything broken or damaged in the house, such as holes in walls, cracked ceilings, etc. These can be examined closely when the buyer visits the property.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/laughingmango

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Web Images Support Your SEO Strategy

Are you getting the most out of the images you display on your small business website? There are many tactics to improving your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), and utilizing your photos and graphics properly is another great step in improving your search engine ranking. It is important to understand that the search engines aren’t necessarily looking at the content of your image, but rather the underlying code that is associated with it. Because of this, you need to go through a few steps to ensure that you are getting the most out of your website. Read the following tips to learn how your images can help your SEO strategy.

Write a descriptive file name.

The file name for all the images and graphics you use should be an effective description of what is seen. Many businesses have certain policies for naming files in their business, for whatever reason, but a file name such as photo_45102.jpg isn’t going to do a lot of good explaining what that image is supposed to be. Instead, name the file something more descriptive such as “online shopping tool.” The naming should ideally include a relevant keyword from your SEO strategy as well. Finally, keep the name short. A long and confusing name for each of your images could have a negative effect.

Use alt-text for your images.

Alt text is a short description of your image that is placed in the underlying code, or meta-data, of the image file. This is what the search engines are actually “reading” when they locate your images. Because of this, you need to be certain that the alt-text is describing exactly what is shown in the image. Another benefit for including alt-text is in the event that an image does not load properly on your website, the user will see the text description in its place.

Surround the image with optimal text.

Search engines also consider the text that is located around images on a website, because it is considered related and containing additional information. Write relevant keywords into the text that accompanies the images on your page, and you can be sure the search engines place more value on that Web page.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/ahlobystov

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Get Your Audience Talking

As social media pages for businesses large and small are becoming increasingly common, how can you take your business’s social media presence to the next step? Even with a steady stream of new content and posts to your Facebook and Twitter presence, are people talking about your brand and spreading the word about your business across their own social network?

The best way to grow your company’s social network is to have your fans and followers spread the word for you. If you can get your fan base to share the content you share with them, it gets your brand page in front of people who otherwise would not have seen it without a sponsored post. And the best way to have your content shared is to first determine what kind of content gets shared the most, especially within your network.

Use visuals! Fundamentally, nearly all social media research shows finds posts that include images are shared much more than simple text posts. Think of your audience, and think of the kind of images that they would find interesting and be willing share with their network. This could be anything from simple product photography, shots from your office or store, or something that you are sharing from a different page altogether. There will be some trial and error at first to get a sense of what your audience is more likely to share, but the more you experiment with sharing images, the better grasp you will have on what works.

Timing is everything. In addition to what items you post to elicit a response, you need to determine when the best time to post would be. This answer largely depends on your audience, but some common sense will at least get you started. For example, unless your audience is primarily 3rd shift workers, it doesn’t make sense to post late at night or very early in the morning, when most of your audience will be asleep. The post would be buried by other items in their news feed by the time they log on. Do some research to find out when you have seen the most engagement in the past. For instance, maybe your audience tends to be more open to engaging around lunchtime.

Invite feedback. Sometimes, getting your audience to engage and be more social is to simply ask them. When posting your next text or image post, add a call-to-action that specifically asks your audience to chime in, ‘like’, or share the post with their friends. There are many ways to get creative with this. On the one hand, you could simply ask them something specific like their favorite product, or you could provide an incentive for sharing or liking a post.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/fotografstockholm

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Visual Content is Shared More Often

For businesses of any size, visual content on the company website, or social media presence, is a major boost for customer engagement. Studies continually show that consumers are more drawn to images and graphics than they are to plain text. With this trend, it is crucial for businesses to get creative with their online presence, to attract as many customers as possible to their website and products.

Evolution of social networks

Visuals such as pictures, infographics, and videos are especially appealing to users on social media channels. As more and more brands and businesses compete for attention in users’ newsfeeds, boring text updates are bound to get overshadowed by more engaging content. Also, if we look at the pattern from the past few years, social networks are becoming much more dependent on the use of images (Facebook’s timeline, Pinterest boards, etc.). One can speculate that this trend is correlated to research illustrating that users are far more likely to interact with a page if there is visual content as opposed to simply text.

Evolution of consumer technology

In a time when more users are visiting social media sites on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, it is simply easier to view and share something like a photo or video than a basic text update, especially from a business page. This is where your company’s creativity can mesh with the general functionality of its Web presence. Get creative with the type of visuals you share, such as product shots, office photography, instructional videos, etc., but also create them in a way that allows for easy sharing and viewing across all device platforms. The more times your content is shared, the larger your audience becomes.

SEO benefits

Above everything else, incorporating visual content into your Web presence will benefit your company’s search engine optimization (SEO) in the long run. Search engines take into consideration how much something is shared and discussed on social media. The more your content is shared on these platforms, the better your visibility on search engines.

What are some ways you incorporate visual media for your business? Let us know in the comments.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/fatido

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