If you’ve ever read a blog or scrolled through your social feed, much less posted these items yourself, then you already know how important it is to pick the perfect image to accompany your message. People notice visuals first, and often decide whether or not they’ll devote any time or attention to an idea based on instant and emotional impressions.

With that in mind, you need the right images in place if you’re going to make an impact with your online marketing. Here are a handful of tips for choosing the ideal visual every single time…

#1 Choose Something Related to Your Topic

A lot of marketers seem to fall for the temptation of choosing the most interesting or eye-catching image they can find, even if it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the content of their post or update. That’s understandable, but it’s also a bad idea. Selecting random photos might get you a few clicks, but it’s not going to help you gain anyone’s trust and could leave your content with a random, disconnected feel.

#2 Think Faces, Colors, and Animals

As humans, we are hard-wired to notice certain types of visuals. Bright colors, expressive faces, and pictures of animals all fall into that category. You’ve probably noticed in the past that you can’t help but look at these types of images yourself. So, if they apply to your content, see if you can work them into the marketing mix.

#3 Consider Getting Your Own Custom Images

A great way to give yourself a big advantage over your competitors is by having access to custom images they can’t use. You could hire a photographer, snap a few on your phone, or even work with an artist who could create custom cartoons, drawings, or infographics for you. The costs tend to be lower than you might think, and you’ll get exclusive use of visuals that none of your competitors can copy.

#4 Brand Your Images When it Makes Sense

If you come up with something that’s particularly pertinent or unique, consider adding your own logo or domain name. After all, you want viewers and potential customers to know where the visual came from, even if it somehow becomes disconnected from the rest of your content. There’s always the chance someone will steal or repurpose it anyway, but taking the small step gives you one layer of protection.

#5 Don’t Forget to Format Them and Add Alt Text

Don’t forget it’s important to format your images properly for the web (in terms of file size, type, and resolution). Also, you should add alt text and links when applicable, so that the perfect images you’ve worked so hard to select can help you gain clicks from viewers and search engine users.

Pictures make the Internet go. They grab our attention, convey emotion, and often determine what we will and won’t spend time thinking about. So, the next time you have something brilliant to say, make sure it’s accompanied by the kind of image that will make buyers sit up and take notice!