A conversation with Tali Rose of Pure SEO
In content marketing, visuals and text are invariably connected. And whilst the importance of weaving them together to optimise the message and its reach is known and understood, the ways of doing so remain relatively underexplored.
Most content creators recognise and use the power of images to convey a message, yet few tap into their full potential. The general assumption when illustrating a blog or article, for example, is that the visuals have to be a clear-cut representation of the text. But in reality, that is only one of the ways to establish a connection between the audience and the content.
“I like it when an image has an abstract connection to the topic of the written content – so it’s not a direct representation, but a bit of a lateral leap," says Tali Rose, Head of Marketing at Pure SEO, a digital marketing agency headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand with branches in Wellington, Melbourne, Brisbane and Manila.
As a Kiwi company that provides web development services to New Zealand businesses, Pure SEO is constantly seeking NZ-based images to furnish websites, blogs, and social media posts. But for Tali and the team, just as important as using authentic, local photos is choosing images that spark the imagination of the audience.
For Tali, the importance of paying heed to visuals lies in the fact that people see images – and therefore are influenced by them – before they read the text. "When you have an image + text on the same piece of content (like a blog post), they are two parts of the overall communication or ideas expressed in the piece," she explains. "They are part of what creates the experience and as content creators, we need to pay attention to how they interact with each other – it's part of how we craft the messaging, like ingredients in a dish or scene composition + soundtrack in a movie."
So when sourcing alternative images, Tali stresses the need for a graspable connection between the two mediums (too tenuous or abstract of a link can compromise the message), as well as a relation to the brand and the format chosen for that particular piece of content. "On one hand it can be on-the-cheek, cheesy, literal, which if you're writing an instruction manual makes sense," explains Tali. "But when it's the case of an article or opinion piece, using an image that looks staged or overly literal, cheesy, exaggerated – like so many stock images – immediately devalues your brand."
But how does this experimental approach work in practice? Tali gives an example: "A recent article we published was about xml+html sitemaps, which is quite a technical topic, but to demonstrate it in relatable terms, the image we used was someone studying a New Zealand trails map before a hike. The outcome is the same – helping a person/user/bot with orientation.”
As for when to opt for 'indirect representation', **it's a matter of exploring the different perspectives of an image according to the audience's learning styles. "For some people, visual communication resonates the most, while others prefer the written word," says Tali. "There's no exact translation between the different media, so you have the opportunity to express your idea in a slightly different way."
Tali concludes by citing the folk story of The Six Blind Men of Hindustan to illustrate her point:
"They all have one part of the elephant (trunk, legs, head, ears...) and are describing the beast. While they're all individually correct, they are all collectively in the wrong because no one has a view of the entire animal. So if the 'elephant' is the idea you are trying to communicate, you can talk about different aspects of it with different content formats (text, image, video, infographic, podcast...) and explore it from various angles. I believe this also helps to embed and understand new concepts."
Head to Excio's Library to find fresh and authentic NZ images to convey your message and spark the imagination of your audience.