We’ve all been there. You’re working on a website for a client, or possibly your own website, and you haven’t got photographs or imagery to accompany the text on your page. Your first and easiest option is to access stock photography, whether it’s from one of the free-to-use image websites, like Unsplash, or from a premium royalty-free stock photo site, such as iStock. Whilst premium stock photo sites charge a fee to download the image to gain commercial rights, the upside is that fewer websites (in theory) will be featuring that image because it’s paid for. As some marketers have little budget to play with or perhaps just simply wish to save as much money as possible, free-to-use images tend to be used more frequently across the board. However, there’s one thing to consider:
STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT GOOD FOR SEO
Why is that, I hear you ask? Because it’s not unique to your website. As most SEO specialists will tell you, Google LOVES unique content and that extends to images too which is why you should always look to use your own original imagery where possible, even if it involves hiring a photographer to gain professional shots.
However, this isn’t the only reason to use fresh images on your website…
Why Unique, Original Photographs Are The Best Option For Your Website
Unique, original imagery tell a story about your website and business. It defines who you are and what your service offers and, ultimately, sets you apart from the rest. If you’re using the same image as at least a dozen other sites, if not more, then you just fade into the background and become just one in a mix of websites. However, if you have eye-catching, fresh imagery not seen anywhere else, customers are more likely to remember your website and differentiate you from your competitors.
Google Loves ‘Em!
Google loves original photos. With properties like Google My Business, that allows you to publish social media-like status updates and images to your listing, original images of your business and services allows users to discover more about what your business actually does and offers. Using a stock image often won’t represent your business exactly and it’s likely the images are being used by other businesses in the same industry. Astute visitors to your profile will notice this and be less likely to trust you than if you use legitimate photos. Not to mention, if the stock photography promises something other than what you deliver, you could receive complaints. There’s even been reports that Google will find and delete stock imagery it finds on your Google My Business profile. Not good!
Gain Your Customer’s Trust
Even if you’re not the best photographer, original photos can reassure customers that what they’re seeing is the real deal and not a fantasy that you and a hundred other businesses are selling. We know this from people listing items for sale on eBay but it can also apply to other industries as well. Take the restaurant business, for example. If you used a stock photo of a delicious burger on your website but it looks different to the one your chef rustles up or, worst still, you don’t actually sell that particular burger, than a customer would have every right to be angry and not trust your business. You could even get into trouble for misrepresentation. So use stock photos with caution to ensure you’re accurately representing your company and its products or services. Depending on your business, you might want to stay away from stock photos altogether!
Unique Imagery Stands Out on Google Image Search
Apart from the benefits that unique images offer to your users on your website, original photos will also work wonders in the Image search results. Imagine you’re searching for something in Google image search but you’re greeted with a row of identical images. Now, you’re likely to click on the first one, for instance, but why would you click on them all if they’re showing the same thing and your needs weren’t met by the first photo and its website? If you see an image that is unique and stands out in the results, and it depicts what you’re looking for, then your eye will naturally be drawn to that and will want to click it to check it out further. As a result, you may convert that image click into a visit to your website. Ker-ching!
Be Creative and Bring A Personal Touch
When growing up, you may have been told that being different will get you attention and this certainly applies to marketing! Why follow the crowd when you can stand out and be your own personality. Set yourself apart from the rest and make a positive impression on your audience with your own unique style that reaffirms your brand.
You don’t have to be a pro photographer or spend a lot of money on original photographs to make it work for your business. Whilst professional photos are always recommended, ones with a slightly amateurish look can still have impressive results due to the realism and authenticity they bring. Of course, you still need to take a decent photograph that is sharp, not blurry, with the subject in frame. Digital SLR cameras are great for this but with smartphones’ increasing camera capabilities outranking most compact cameras nowadays, even a shot from your mobile’s camera may suffice.
So the next time you need imagery for your website, try and capture the subject matter yourself instead. And if you absolutely aren’t able to provide your own images, then you can fall back on trusty stock photography with a view to swapping them out for your own original snaps in the future.