I understand that most of you don’t have the time to be taking pictures for every social media or blog post so using the many free stock photography sites is such a time saver.
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But unfortunately, there is a downside to them if you use them on your website or social media accounts.
3 Disadvantages of Using Stock Images Online
1) Google states that they are looking for unique content so that means images that haven’t been used online before. The more you toe the Google line the higher up your website will appear in the search engine results pages. So if SEO is important to you, stay away from stock photography.
2) Social media news feeds have algorithms too and if they see images that have been used before they will consider your post to be spam and show it further down user’s news feeds. If your business is on social media appearing high up your follower’s news feeds is quite important, isn’t it?
3) I see stock photography used time and time again on websites and I think they have a really unauthentic feel about them because most of them look cheesy & fake. Visually, I think they are OK for blog posts, but not your main pages. If I see a website that uses stock photography I can only assume that the website has been rushed.
I actually use stock photography for my main images in ALL my blog posts because like everyone else I don’t have the time to be taking fresh pictures or knocking up graphics in Adobe Illustrator. So I put a filter on them at around 80% opacity in Photoshop and in most cases that does the trick.
If you reverse search an image online you will find out if this has worked. So all you have to do is:
Visit www.google.com/imghp, then click on the camera icon.
Click on the “upload an image” option.
Then click on “choose file” and upload your image.
Wait for the results and in this case, you can see that my previous blog post image has only appeared on my web page.
Originally, the first layer of the image from my previous blog post was a stock image, then I added an orange layer on top of that with an 80% opacity and the final layer was the text.
However, I do have 1 image on my home page that hasn’t passed Google unique image test, despite using a filter, but it is only temporary. Because for now, it serves a purpose because the appearance of the home page is more important than SEO. The image will be replaced in a few weeks or so when I will take a “real” photograph and use that one instead.
You have to be practical here and decide if having unique images that haven’t been seen before online is important to you or not. Perhaps you don’t have the luxury of being that pedantic with images and you aren’t that fussed about appearing higher up in social media news feeds or in Google’s rankings.
Personally, I think appearing higher up in social media feeds and higher up in Google’s search engine results pages is very important and is, in fact, what digital marketing is all about. So I will make the extra effort.
I do use stock photography on websites on a temporary basis from time to time, but at least you know the downside and you can make the decision that is right and practical for you.
Gary is a website designer and has been building websites since 2010. He is a certified digital marketing strategist with the Digital Marketing Institute and he holds a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design (Distinction)