If you're not using photos in your blog posts, there's no better time to start than right now.
Why? Because even a little photo can go a long way toward bringing new readers to your blog. With consistently high-quality photos in every post, you're sure to notice a spike in traffic, and, if your photos are really good, a spike in reader engagement, too.
Why readers like photos
A great photo gets attention. And the more attention you get, the more readers you will attract.
Photos are your blog's eye candy. When someone stumbles across your post – let's say they arrived from a search engine – you want to draw them into the text. A great headline helps a lot with that. But second only to the headline is a compelling image.
And what if someone links to your post on Facebook or Google Plus? Having a relevant photo appear alongside the link will help them understand what the post is about. An intelligently-chosen photo may even inspire an emotion (think humor, happiness, fear, melancholy) that helps readers "get" your post before they even read it.
Oh, and be sure to put at least one photo just below the headline. A photo won't entice visitors to keep reading when you place it below the fold.
Why search engines like photos
There's someone else – okay, something else – that likes to see photos on your blog, too.
Google. Bing. Yahoo! All of the major search engines use what's called the "alternative text" or "alt text" in your photos to index your image appropriately. That means placing an accurate description of your photo in the image's alt text area actually helps you get more search traffic.
Blogging platforms like WordPress make it easy to insert alt text into your image. Just add it in the visual editor whenever you upload a new photo.
Which photos can you use?
For many bloggers, this is the hardest part. How can you find high-quality, relevant photos for your blog? And when you do, how do you know it's okay to use them?
For a personal blog, you can always use Google's advanced image search to find a photo that is labeled for reuse. If you operate a commercial site, you'll have to search for images labeled for commercial reuse. Good luck finding good photos that way, though. High-caliber images are rarely free for the taking.
Stock photography, however, offers a great alternative to scouring the net for an image with the appropriate license. They may not be free, but stock photos make it easy and convenient to find great images to fit nearly any topic under the sun. If your blog serves a commercial purpose, buying stock photos is an investment in your blog's aesthetics.
And you'll never wonder why you can't find the "right" photo. The selection at stock photo sites is seemingly endless.
So go ahead and spruce up your blog with meaningful, high-quality photographs. Your readers will thank you – and so will your traffic stats.