By now, you know that multimedia is essential to successful web content. Gone are the days when text-heavy documents could attract and keep eyes on the page. Modern readers are accustomed to beautiful site layouts and eye-catching graphics, and including multimedia in your content is just as good for search engine optimization as it is for user experience.
But even if you’ve whole-heartedly embraced multimedia, you might still be damaging your visibility and engagement.
Below are three common-but-serious blunders that can cost you big time.
1. Not using captions correctly
Pop quiz: When a reader visits a website, what is the first thing they read?
If you answered, “The headline or page title,” you’re wrong. The answer, at least according to a study commissioned by David Ogilvy, is that image captions get read more than just about anything else. According to the results of various image placement tests, Ogilvy found that the photo is the first thing a reader sees – and immediately after reading the photo, the reader will look at the text beneath it. This means that headlines below images make a bigger impact. It also means that your image captions are vitally important.
When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s not too surprising that an arresting visual would catch a visitor’s attention. After looking at a photo or graphic, it’s only natural that the reader would glance beneath it to find more context or information about the image that’s caught their attention.
Since these image captions are so important, you should spend a bit of extra time writing them. Put as much care into crafting your captions as you would your headline. Think about the SEO value of the words you use and be sure your captions either underscore your brand identity or deliver a call to action whenever possible.
Think of it this way: If a reader had to decide whether to keep reading after seeing your image caption, would they stay on the page? If not, it’s time to re-think your captioning.
2. Not setting the right social share image
If you’ve spent any time at all on social media, you’ve probably noticed that the links you share will auto-populate with an image. And these photos are crucial: Links posted with an image get 130% as much engagement (i.e., clicks) as those without. Once you post a link to Twitter or Facebook, the image acts as an eye-catching advertisement for whatever you’re sharing. For brands getting their content shared online, this is good news – but don’t celebrate just yet.
If you don’t take the steps to control what image is shared when someone links to your content, you’re putting your brand’s fate into the social media site’s hands — and you might not like the results. The image selected might be chosen at random, leading to outdated, irrelevant, or just plain ugly visuals.
Fortunately, you can adjust the settings of your site to ensure that your links will auto-populate with relevant, eye-catching graphics when posted on social media.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn use a process called Open Graph to “read” a site and extract information. Open Graph will extract images, URL, description, and the title of an article in basically the same way Google uses metadata to populate its search results. These tags live in the <head> section of your website’s codes and can be updated manually or with the help of a plug-in. You can read more in-depth instructions for adjusting the metadata here.
3. Not using videos
Static images are eye-catching, but they can’t hold attention and boost engagement the way videos can. Research suggests that people find videos more engaging and memorable than any other type of content, including the written word, and brands are embracing that trend. It’s estimated that 81% of businesses use video in their marketing, and mobile video consumption doubles every year. By 2022, video-watching is expected to account for the overwhelming majority of all internet traffic.
So how do you put this to use when devising your own content strategy?
That depends, in part, on your goals and abilities as a content creator. Obviously, there is tremendous benefit to creating your own videos to supplement your messaging. These don’t have to be complex; even a simple v-log where you chat to the audience about the topic at hand can be beneficial. Creating these videos makes your content more accessible, and hosting them on YouTube or posting them to Facebook can introduce you to a fresh audience and a new set of search algorithms.
But if creating videos of your own is outside of your creative wheelhouse, you can still take advantage of this trend by supplementing your social media content or blog posts with informative, relevant videos from other sources. If you can add value for your audience, you’re on the right track to boosting engagement.
Online content creation can often feel like a confusing environment of shifting goal-posts and complicated strategies. Fortunately, these three problems are pretty easy to fix – and such small tweaks can have a huge effect on the success of your content and its brand.
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Tiana Gibbs is an Associate Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire moonlighting as a freelance copywriter. When not writing for the web, she can be found trying (and sometimes failing) to build an urban homestead in the Land of Enchantment.