Camille
Team Lead
Content Strategists

Level Up Your Marketing Campaign

Level Up Your Marketing Campaign

Mastering photos for SEO is a critical component of modern digital marketing.

The right use and optimization of images can significantly enhance your website’s visibility on search engines. But it’s not as simple as just adding some attractive pictures to your content.

Your approach to stock photos SEO needs to be strategic, intentional, and aligned with the latest trends in search engine algorithms.

This isn’t about merely peppering your site with random visuals; this is about leveraging imagery effectively for optimal user experience and higher rankings.

Let’s delve deeper into the art of optimizing stock photos for better SEO outcomes.

What are Stock Photos?

Typically, stock photography is a supply of images that are licensed under a paid or royalty-free type of license.

This means that a company that licenses the photos has paid the photographer and/or agency who produced the photo allowing them to use the image openly, as long as they give credit and use the image within the limitations of the license.

Stock photo agencies have historically operated under the Rights Managed license system, which allows stock image agencies and stock photographers to negotiate rates, the size of the image, and how often the image can be used.

However, more license types have emerged. Royalty-Free is one of the most popular forms. The Royalty-Free license isn’t altogether free. Instead, buyers pay a fee that is predetermined (and one-time) upfront to gain rights to the photo. This saves the buyer from having to pay a royalty fee every time the image is reproduced.

Royalty-Free license still has its limitations (upwards of 500,000 reprints). This is where extended licenses come into play. Extended licenses are for major prints of an image, as would be the case with a major magazine or a movie studio.

This allows for the image to be reprinted for things like memorabilia, and so forth.

Are Stock Photos Important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process by which an algorithm ranks and categorizes factors on web pages in order to filter and organize them according to search result preferences.

SEO looks at factors within a domain, on the page itself, and on the entire website, including relevant backlinks, UI factors, brand signals, and more.

When we look at SEO factors related to images, it doesn’t appear like Google is able to actually read the image source or label the type of image you have used.

However, with the introduction of machine-learning algorithm, it is likely that they will be able to identify the image and how frequently it is used. Google loves unique content, so it is most likely that it will downgrade content that uses stock images over unique images.

Image SEO: The Ins and Outs

There are other image-related factors that the algorithm looks at, though.

For example, images should be image optimized. This means that the images also convey relevancy signals to the search and to the rest of the web page. This includes the name of the image, the alt text provided, the title of the image, its description, and caption.

Webpages with images also appear better in SERPs, omitting images signifies a decreased content quality.

Additionally, Google also prefers its own brand’s images over others. But so far, nothing has been spoken about how SEO reads images.

Other marketing agencies suggest that, well, of course, stock images will affect how a company is perceived and their customer engagement.

If this is the case, then there would be less chance for a visitor to click-through with a company that uses stock images, and the webpage would be showing a high bounce rate.

While user engagement is measurable, it is based on inferential data and it does not show a causal link.

How to Image Optimize for User Engagement

While image optimization alone will not boost the image to number one in a Google image search, it will improve your overall page ranking. Optimizing your images for SEO makes your page more readable by Google.

You should be employing these basic image-related SEO tactics:

  • Alt tag and title tag
  • Keywords in filenames (but don’t duplicate tags or keyword stuff)
  • GEO coordinates within image properties
  • Linking to external images
  • It could help to syndicate your image across your website

Other SEO improvements you can consider:

Image Formatting

Images should be in either .JPG, .PNG, or .GIF. In general, a .PNG produces a much higher quality image but it will be larger and is better suited for graphs and line drawings. With a JPEG you will lose some image quality but it is surprisingly better suited for photography.

Compressing Images

To not compromise on image quality, you can compress your images. A compressed image will improve a website’s load time.

WordPress plugins like TinyPNG or WP Smush plugin can do this for you. Know that uncompressed images are often 21% of a web page’s weight so compressing images (within reason) can drastically reduce that baggage.

Set Appropriate Dimensions

The dimensions of your website refer to the way that the content on our site takes up space. All blogs are capped out to a width of 720px. So this means that images will never be bigger than 720px.

If you have an image with more pixels (one that is larger) then your browser will still need to load the entire file size and then resize the image. Setting an appropriate file dimension will drastically decrease this lag time.

Decrease File Size

Google recommends three open-source tools for experimenting with the quality settings for your images: Guetzli, MozJPEG (by Mozilla), and pngquant.

They recommend dialling down on quality in order for that image to be less bulky.

A smaller file size on your website will also improve page loading and performance, another bonus for SEO.

Set Aspect Ratios

Setting the image aspect ratio is a fancy way of saying that your image is responsive.

So if your 720px image is loaded onto a tiny mobile phone, the image will adapt to the width of the device and look good at around 320px or so. Not setting these aspect ratios wastes a lot of bandwidth and user patience.

Importance of Stock Photos in SEO

Outside of indexing capabilities, it’s important to look at how stock photos impact user experience, which ultimately will play a role in determining how Google ranks your page.

The photos you chose for your website have a major influence on the user experience. They are not just about aesthetics; they also contribute to enhancing the visibility of your website on various search engines.

The Role of Stock Photos in Enhancing User Experience

The quality of visuals is paramount when it comes to engaging users. Studies have revealed that webpages featuring high-quality visuals tend to be positioned higher in search engine results.

This proves that attractive stock photos can greatly enrich the browsing experience, encouraging visitors to interact more with your content and spend longer periods exploring your site.

However, it’s not just about visual appeal. Stock photos should also serve an informative purpose. A survey conducted by Adobe found that image quality is “very important” to 67% of consumers when making purchase decisions.

Therefore, carefully chosen SEO stock photos provide visual context for the products or services you offer, directly influencing consumer behavior.

How Stock Photos Influence Web Search Results

One often overlooked aspect of web searches is the reliance on imagery, particularly those tagged as original images by algorithms used by major search engines like Google or Bing Visual Search.

Including relevant pictures in your online content helps establish a correlation between text-based information and associated graphics, increasing the likelihood of appearing prominently in organic search results.

In addition to the direct benefit of improved SEO performance and increased visibility across platforms, there is another indirect advantage related to customer engagement.

This includes retention rates among returning visitors who appreciate the consistency provided by repeated exposure to certain branded elements embedded throughout different sections of your website.

By incorporating unique graphic representations alongside traditional textual narratives, you can create a cohesive and visually appealing experience that caters to end-user needs and preferences.

Online businesses today need to look beyond just crafting engaging text. Aim for a blend of words and visuals, each enhancing the other perfectly.

This way, you’ll deliver experiences that prioritize user needs over mere sales numbers. It’s a strategy that guarantees lasting success and helps dodge problems from relying solely on one form of communication.

Stock photos are more than just pretty pictures. They’re SEO powerhouses that can boost your website’s visibility and engage users effectively. High-quality images not only enrich the browsing experience but also provide context for your offerings, influencing consumer decisions. Remember, it’s about creating a harmonious blend of text and visuals to deliver user-centric experiences – a surefire recipe for lasting.

Optimizing Stock Photos for SEO

In the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, stock photos have become a crucial element.

When optimized correctly, these images can have a significant impact on search engine rankings and enhance the overall user experience.

Utilizing Alt Text for Image Optimization

A key aspect of optimizing stock photos is utilizing alt text. Alt text is descriptive text that helps search engines understand the content of an image. It is also beneficial for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers.

Google’s guidance recommends using meaningful phrases in alt text instead of keyword stuffing.

This not only improves accessibility but also enhances the SEO value of the image by accurately representing its content with a relevant description. This contributes positively to the overall quality of the website’s content.

The strategic use of alt text is part of a comprehensive optimization strategy that includes selecting appropriate image formats and sizes, among other factors.

The Impact of Relevant Images on Rankings

In addition to providing context for visually impaired users, using relevant images can significantly impact a website’s ranking in search results.

This is particularly important in local SEO strategies, where businesses compete for visibility within specific geographic areas.

You may have noticed that social media posts with captivating visuals and compelling copywriting tend to attract more attention.

This is because Google often rewards such posts with higher positions in search engine results pages (SERPs), leading to increased online visibility and traffic to the website.

Research supports this notion, indicating that websites featuring engaging imagery are more likely to appear as featured snippets.

This further emphasizes the importance of every element contributing meaningfully to create a comprehensive web experience across different platforms.

The Impact of Stock Photos on User Experience and SEO

In today’s digital age, where bounce rates can make or break conversion rates, it’s clear why top-notch stock photos are key to SEO success.

Visual content, specifically images, play a crucial role in enhancing user experience. They have a significant impact on bounce rates and search engine optimization (SEO).

Among these visuals, stock photos are a widely accessible source. However, their influence on user experience and SEO is multifaceted.

Bounce Rates: A Metric Shaped by Visual Engagement

One key aspect influenced by the use of images is the bounce rate, which measures the percentage of visitors who leave a website after viewing only one page. It is evident that relevant images captivate users more effectively than text alone.

For example, a study by BrightLocal revealed that 60% of consumers are more inclined to engage with local search results that incorporate images.

This suggests that visually engaging websites tend to have lower bounce rates as they successfully hold users’ attention for longer periods.

Moreover, this extended engagement can lead to improved conversion rates, which is another critical metric influenced by the use of images.

Images Influence Search Engine Algorithms

In addition to directly captivating viewers, the appropriate use of images also impacts how search engine algorithms rank websites. This is a crucial aspect of any successful SEO strategy.

Websites that feature custom images generally perform better because such visuals enhance the quality of original content, which is highly valued by search engine algorithms like those of Google and Bing.

In fact, a study by MDG Advertising discovered that relevant imagery can increase content views by up to 94% compared to content without images, further emphasizing their importance.

The Featured Image: A Catalyst for Search Rankings

Selecting an appropriate featured image is instrumental in achieving high-ranking positions within search engine results pages (SERPs).

When chosen carefully and accompanied by proper alt-text descriptions to ensure accessibility, a featured image can enhance visibility across various platforms and significantly improve overall SEO performance.

A well-chosen featured photo isn’t just eye-catching, it’s also relevant and meaningful.

The Problem with Using Obvious Stock Photos

As digital marketers, we understand the power of images. However, when these images are obvious or generic stock photos, they can present significant challenges.

1. Negative Impacts on Conversions

Obvious stock photos lack originality and a personal touch that your audience craves. This absence of authenticity could potentially lead to lower conversion rates.

To illustrate this point, let’s consider video content for a moment: research shows that using videos on landing pages can increase conversions by 80%.

While not directly related to our discussion about stock photos, it emphasizes the importance of engaging visual content. Using unique and relevant visuals, rather than generic ones, can greatly enhance user engagement and boost conversions.

2. Erosion of Authenticity

In addition to impacting conversions, there is also a concern regarding brand representation. Generic stock images may fail to accurately convey your brand identity or effectively communicate your intended message.

This issue becomes more pronounced if the image has been extensively used across various websites, which is often the case with popular free-to-use options online.

Visitors who come across these repeatedly used pictures may question their authenticity, as well as the credibility of your brand.

3. Detrimental Effects on SEO Performance

Furthermore, overly-generic imagery can compromise user experience (UX) and dilute your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

These materials have likely been indexed multiple times throughout the web, resulting in a “dilution effect.”

Google perceives such repetitive content as less valuable during the ranking process, especially when compared to fresh and unique content that is deemed more relevant and useful to the audience.

It is essential to prioritize novelty and quality in order to meet the algorithmic evaluation standards set by major players in the industry.

Don’t fall into the trap of using generic stock photos. Their lack of originality can lead to lower conversions, erode your brand’s authenticity and negatively impact SEO performance due to overuse on the web. To avoid this “dilution effect,” prioritize unique and high-quality visuals that truly represent your brand and resonate with your audience.

FAQs in Relation to Stock Photos Seo

Do stock images affect SEO?

Yes, using high-quality and relevant stock images can have a positive impact on your website’s SEO.

These images enhance the user experience, increase engagement rates, and ultimately improve your search engine rankings.

Does Google penalize stock photos?

No, Google does not directly penalize the use of stock photos. However, it is important to note that unique and original content tends to perform better in search rankings.

So while stock photos are not penalized, it is still beneficial to strive for originality in your content.

How do I add SEO to my photos?

There are several ways to optimize your photos for SEO. First, make sure to use descriptive file names that include relevant keywords.

Additionally, consider reducing the image size to improve loading times, as faster loading pages are favored by search engines.

Another important aspect is adding alt text to your images, using keywords that accurately describe the image and relate to the page content.

Are pictures good for SEO?

Absolutely. Including relevant pictures in your content can greatly benefit your SEO efforts.

Pictures not only enhance the visual appeal of your site, but also increase the time users spend on your pages.

This increased dwell time is a positive signal to search engines, indicating that your site provides valuable and relevant content.

Conclusion

Optimizing stock photos SEO is more than just a technical trick. It’s an art that combines aesthetics and algorithm know-how.

With the right approach, you can transform your website into a visual masterpiece that search engines adore.

Remember, it’s not only about having stunning images but also ensuring they are optimized for web searches through the effective use of alt text and relevance to the content.

The power of visuals in influencing user experience cannot be overstated. High-quality and relevant images enhance engagement, leading to improved SEO performance.

However, be cautious! Using overly obvious or generic stock photos can harm authenticity and conversions. Always strive for originality whenever possible.

In essence, mastering stock photos SEO means striking a balance between pleasing both humans and search engine algorithms. That’s the key!

okwrite is an award-winning content marketing agency that can link content with conversions and bring more traffic to your site using authoritative, SEO-driven, high quality content. Connect with us to learn more.

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