Adding images to your site can help you create that all-important first impression. Powerful visuals can:
- Help explain complex ideas.
- List item
- Hold a viewer’s attention.
- Increase your website’s appeal.
So, not using impactful imagery on your site should be out of the question. However, not just any image will do – you’ll need valuable images that support your branding goals; and when you start this quest, you’ll come across two options: stock images or custom photography.
In this post, we’ll focus on stock imagery and how it can impact your SEO. Does it bring along cliched vibes, or can it change your online presence for the better? Let’s find out!
The Bright Side of Stock Images
Ready-to-use images can breathe life into your site – fast. Here’s why stock images are suitable for your website:
High-Quality, Well-Captured Shots
Don’t have the funds and time to get original photographs for your website?
Stock photo websites are loaded with awesome visuals on any topic you can think of. Stock images come in all shapes and sizes, with various quality levels available depending on your chosen source. For example, showcasing beautiful stock photos of lush lawns can help if you own a landscaping business.
Easy to Access
When using stock images, you only need to search for the image using keywords related to what you are looking for. Once the results are generated, just select the one that fits best with your brand message and website layout, and add it to your page. Full marks to stock imagery for this convenience.
No Work is Needed on Your Part
Not a design or photography person? Stock photographs eliminate the need for technical or photography jargon. You can download and upload ready-to-use stock images to elevate your website content. All credible stock websites have unique, compelling visuals that add to your website’s visual appeal. And since they’re captured and refined for online use, they usually don’t weigh your site down.
The Negative-ish Side of Stock Imagery
Here comes the twist. While stock images offer incredible convenience and bring brightness to your website, using them isn’t always the right thing. Here’s how they can negatively impact your digital marketing efforts:
Lack of Authenticity
We all know how much search engines chant about being authentic, and rightfully so. That’s where stock imagery takes a beating because your visitors can tell if it doesn’t represent your brand well.
So if your brand values are based on originality, think twice before loading your site with stock images.
Risk of Copying or Getting Copied
If you run on free stock images, know that they’re already used (or will be used) a bazillion times in other places. And that feels mediocre from the branding perspective. But here’s the catch:
You can rule this doubt out by purchasing licensed stock images that haven’t been over-used. If you don’t want the headache of getting original photos, go to a credible stock image source and purchase premium visuals. Just follow the rules of using stock images to avoid legal implications.
How Do Stock Photos Impact Your SEO?
According to John Mueller from Google: “it doesn’t matter for web search directly,” so don’t worry about losing any numbers using them. Also, since stock images are mostly for cosmetic purposes and to add more spice to the written content, they won’t harm your SEO.
Aside from that, here’s what you must know before proceeding:
Google Favors Original Content
Thanks to Google’s ever-evolving algorithms, it is now more critical than ever for websites to create original content if they want to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs). This means that websites with stock images should take extra care to ensure that the text accompanying these images is unique.
You should also ensure your stock images are correctly attributed and credited if required so as not to run afoul of copyright violations.
A/B Testing Shows that Custom Photos Convert Better
A study by Marketing Experiments says that banners with custom images convert better than those with stock images. One reason could be that customers are likelier to trust companies that use real photographs rather than generic stock imagery.
Should You Use Stock Images?
Yes, you can spice up your content with persuasive and unique stock images that sit well with your website design. Whether you use them in the website banner or as thumbnails in blog posts, they won’t hurt your SEO as long as you:
- Buy stock imagery from reliable sources.
- Understand their licensing terms.
- Resize/edit according to your brand.
- Make sure the images support what you want to convey.
- Put together a layout of both – stock images and custom photographs for your website.
- Understand the rules of using stock photos.
And you’re good.
The quality and relevance of stock images on your website do not directly impact your SEO rankings. Often users will scroll past pages without images, so investing in at least some form of high-quality visuals can go a long way for your website’s search engine optimization.
However, using these images alone will not drive meaningful organic search traffic. The visuals should be used to enhance content and provide a more enjoyable user experience to keep your visitors engaged.
And when stock photos are used correctly, they can increase your website’s discoverability and brand recognition, both beneficial for better SEO rankings. Good Luck!