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3 Reasons Not to Use Stock Photography

3 Reasons Not to Use Stock Photography

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.

The Compromise

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. I will be replaced in a few weeks or so when I will take a “real” photograph and use that one instead.

Final Thoughts

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.

But at least you know the downside and you can make the decision that is right for you.

Gary

Gary Gleeson

Gary is a website designer, digital marketer & videographer. He holds a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design.

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What is a Search Engine Optimisation Audit?

What is a Search Engine Optimisation Audit?

So you have spent thousands on your website and you have just realised that your website isn’t generating that much traffic from search engines, so the chances are that your website needs an SEO overhaul.

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The best place to start is with an SEO audit that will highlight areas that can be improved upon so that your website climbs Google’s rankings.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation is the process of making a website or website pages appear higher up in search engines such as Google. The higher up they appear the more likely that users will click on these search engine’s links to your website.

The 7 key stages of SEO are:

SEO Audit

The great thing about digital marketing is that there aren’t many grey areas regarding how successful any type of campaign is and search engine optimisation is a typical example of this because everything is measurable.

The purpose of a website audit is to identify as many issues affecting organic search performance as possible such as:

  • Technical SEO problems
  • Website structure problems
  • On-page SEO problems
  • Current website domain authority 
  • User experience problems
  • Content gaps and opportunities
  • Website loading speed

So in addition to spotting current website issues, the audit also serves as a starting point where initial statistics can be compared to the statistic in the coming months or years to follow that will show how effective the search engine optimisation campaign has been.

Keyword Research

One of the first things that we do before we even design or build a website is keyword research. 

Keywords are terms or phrases that are typed into search engines which should be strategically placed in the website multiple times so that the website appears higher up in the search engine results pages. But please note that if this is overdone, which is known as keyword stuffing, Google will penalise your website for this as it sees this as spam and an underhanded way of trying to beat the algorithm. 

Using the right keywords is one of the most important components of search engine optimisation. 

On-Page SEO

Now that we know what your target market is searching for on search engines, it’s time to dive into on-page SEO which is the practice of creating web pages that answer searcher’s questions. 

Once we have the keywords or keyword phrases that search engine users are using we can amend the website accordingly to make it “Google-friendly.” We do this by updating strategically placing the keywords into the website such as amended content or text, updating page titles, changing the titles and alt tags of images; to name a few.

Technical SEO

Now that we have created valuable content based on our keyword research, it’s important to make sure it’s not only readable by humans, but by search engines too.

So as the name suggests this is the technical part. If I can compare on-page and technical SEO in an analogy, the on-page would be how a car looks and the technical search engine optimisation is all about the engine.

I will keep this section brief but careful attention is needed in the following areas for search engines:

  • Increase the loading time of a website & it’s individual pages
  • Optimise images so that they load quicker
  • Instruct search engines which website pages to index
  • Inform Google what the pages are about using schema markup & the canonical tag
  • Ensure the website is mobile-friendly

Blogging Using Keywords

This is admittedly similar to the on-page SEO that I mentioned earlier but blogging should be an ongoing part of your digital marketing & search engine optimisation strategies.

Blogging has 3 main advantages for SEO:

  • It can increase your domain authority
  • Google gives extra juice to websites that blog consistently
  • Your blog posts can reach a wider audience if it is done properly

A great tip is to keep the important content above the fold for desktop users so that they are encouraged to read the article. Above the fold means in the top part of a page before scrolling down.

This is harder to do for mobile as you have fewer characters to play with so make sure that the first couple of sentences are interesting enough to keep your viewer’s attention. 

Link Building & Establishing Domain Authority 

So we have created content that potential new customers are searching for, that answers their questions and that search engines can understand, but those qualities alone don’t mean that your website or website pages will rank. 

To appear high in the search engines results pages you have to establish authority. That can be accomplished by earning links from authoritative websites, building your brand and nurturing an audience who will help amplify your content by sharing it on their social media accounts and by commenting in the comments section of your blog posts.

Google confirmed that links and quality content are two of the three most important ranking factors for search engine optimisation. Authority websites tend to link to other trustworthy sites and spammy sites tend to link to other spammy sites.

Measuring & Tracking Results

If you can’t measure something how are you expected to improve it?

It’s no different in SEO. We track everything from rankings and conversions to domain authority scores to help prove the value of SEO. Measuring the impact of our work and ongoing refinement is critical to your business’s SEO success.

While it’s common to have several SEO goals, establishing one specific primary end goal is essential. Then we can work towards that.

Final Thoughts on SEO

SEO should play an important part in your digital marketing strategy because it is a great way to generate the right traffic to your site. But don’t get hung up on the number of website visitors from search engines because quality traffic is much more important.

I tried not to get too technical in this blog post as some of the SEO jargon can take some explaining, but if you need any advice on improving your business’s SEO to grow, get in touch.

Gary Gleeson

Gary is a website designer, digital marketer & videographer. He holds a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design.

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