When you’re building your web site, the written word is king. Not only is high-quality written content what draws visitors to your site, it’s also the tool you can use to improve your visibility through linking and SEO (search engine optimization). You shouldn’t get so wrapped up in your words that you forget how powerful a well-chosen image can be, though. Here are some tips to keep in mind for effectively integrating images into your site.

1. Format Properly: While a clear, fast-loading image can have a tremendous impact on your visitors, a low-quality picture that takes a long time to load will send the wrong message about your site. Double-check each image you use to make sure it’s properly formatted and well-optimized.

2. No Image Maps: Using images for page navigation was an amazing way to design websites back in the early 2000s. Today, though, the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits. Don’t make images an integral part of the way visitors get around your site.

3. Use Alt Tags: Every image on your pages can have an alt tag in your HTML. This text message will show up for users who cannot or do not want to load images. Alt tags are also parsed by search engines, so including them will improve your page ranking.

4. Don’t Steal: Nothing will make being a webmaster an unpleasant job faster than a letter from a copyright holder’s attorney. Whenever possible, use images that are in the public domain or pictures that you took yourself.

5. Minimize Stock Photo Usage: Even if you do things on the up-and-up and purchase the rights to use images from a stock service, exercise some cautious judgment when you do. Visitors can spot a stock photo from a mile off, and a site packed full of them will generate a negative impression.

6. Broken Link Patrol: It’s very important to check your website regularly to make sure all of the links work. This goes double for your image links. It’s one thing for a picture not to appear because a visitor has disabled image loading; it’s quite another for the problem to be caused by a lack of maintenance on your part.

7. Use Reliable Hosting: Although there are plenty of free services available to store and share photos online, for your website, you want to use something a bit more reliable. If your site has a lot of traffic, or you are using it for business purposes, making sure you have reliable image hosting is especially important.

8. Design Logos Carefully: If you intend to use a logo with your website, it will likely be something that visitors will see over and over again. This makes it worth your time to invest some extra effort in crafting your logo. You might want to engage the services of a real graphic designer to come up with something really stylish and memorable.

It might seem like a lot of effort to go to all this trouble with every image you put on your site. The results can definitely be worth it, though. If you commit yourself to doing things properly, you’ll find that it doesn’t take very long for the process to become a routine. You’ll soon be handling your images the right way without even thinking about it.