Writing good content for your WordPress blog is an important way of generating new traffic and keeping your readers coming back for more. Yet just text alone isn’t enough for engaging content. Blog readers can be surprisingly demanding, and will quickly grow weary of a website that does not make extensive use of multimedia such as images, videos, sliders, links, and other applications. Scholarly research has shown that website visitors will scan, rather than read, websites that they visit. For a page such as this one, a visitor will usually start by reading the headline, then the first line of this paragraph, and finally skipping ahead to the second headline, and finally skimming the remainder of the article. To truly engage blog visitors, it is imperative that multimedia, colors, and graphics be used to keep your visitors interested in your content. This article will explain how you can incorporate multimedia into your WordPress posts without the need for custom coding.
Images are the most simple, yet most effective way of keeping the attention of your visitors. Compressed images take less than 50 kilobytes, and as the old expression goes, “a picture says a thousand words.” For website viewers, this holds even more true than with traditional print media. Therefore, including images in every post is essential to creating engaging, shareable content on a growing blog.
The easiest way to get started with images is to simply insert images that have already been created by others. But when it comes to online media, it is very important that you ensure you have legal rights to post an image on your blog. Using an image search engine like Google Images or TinEye, content creators can easily find and sue a blogger that illegally uses a copyrighted image on a website. Therefore, it crucial that you understand the three major categories of image rights before using them on your blog:
- Public Domain – These images are free to use, usually without restriction. Sites like Morguefile or FindIcons.com are good examples, and sources, of these types of images.
- Free with Attribution – These images are free, but require you to give author credits to the image’s owner. Images distributed under these terms frequently require a link back to their website, watermarks, or other forms of author credits that might not look good on your blog.
- Copyrighted – Quite simply, you may not use these images without purchasing a license or permission. These make up most images on the Internet, including images on other websites. Illegally using copyrighted images will quickly lead to legal troubles and being penalized by search engines.
With these types of restrictions in place, professional bloggers are generally well-served with an affordable image subscription through a reputable image service like iStock ($19.99 per month), Shutterstock (starting at $29.99 per month), or Fotolia (starting at $25 per month). While these services are not generally cheap, they are still more affordable than lawsuits and a bad reputation. Still, keep in mind that most image needs can be met simply by using public domain images, using images that require attribution, or even creating an image yourself.
If you want to engage your visitors with more compelling content, videos are a great way to get there. Like images, videos offer the ability to demonstrate your content to your site visitors. But unlike images, videos go beyond this with the ability to use sound and more lifelike visual effects to explain or demonstrate something on your blog. Videos can even be entertaining, and generally can increase the value that site visitors perceive in your content. By using an external video hosting service like YouTube, your videos will load efficiently and can be accessed and linked off-site, which expands your reach and can substantially increase blog traffic due to the increased “buzz” that is generated as your video is shared across the web.
As mentioned, YouTube is a good choice for getting started with incorporating simple videos into your blog. Since YouTube is also a social network, it can lead to increased sharing and can help you build your blog’s brand. Best of all, YouTube is free, and it carries the added bonus that if your video goes viral, you can even get a share of the ad revenue generated by the video. Finally, YouTube videos are simple to incorporate into your WordPress posts and throughout your blog. Simply copy the embed code from YouTube’s website and paste it into the post editor. WordPress also has YouTube plugins available, which are useful if you want to customize the size or appearance of your videos.
For the above reasons, YouTube is generally the best option for bloggers wishing to incorporate videos into a blog. Other options include Vimeo, which while costing $59.99/year, bloggers can gain more control over video content, experience fewer upload restrictions, and improve support for HD content. If none of these work for you, the last option is to simply embed a video into your blog using WordPress’ media library and the “Media” button found within the WordPress kitchen sink. Generally this is not recommended, and can use substantial bandwidth resources that will lead to a poor user experience and increased hosting bills. Since videos posted this way will automatically begin downloading, even if the visitor does not intend watch it, these increases in bandwidth consumption can be further exasperated.
Sliders are a great way to incorporate images while still leveraging some of the advantages found in videos. Since sliders consist of simply a series of images and a small script to perform the animations, they do not require much bandwidth and have little impact on load times. Generally they are interactive, and can improve user engagement. However, they also require that you find many images to populate them, which can add-up to significant costs, both in terms of time and money.
Like most WordPress functionality, there are plugins are available for free on WordPress.org that can effectively incorporate sliders into your posts. One of our favorites, which we included in our list of the Top 5 WordPress Plugins that Every Blogger Should Use, is Slideshow Gallery. This robust, yet lightweight plugin makes it easy to incorporate an effective slider into your posts. Just add as slider using an intuitive button on your WordPress “kitchen sink”, select the images you want to include, and finally add the slider using a simple shortcode. Slideshow Gallery also comes with options to customize the animations and change how visitors can interact with the gallery.