Stock images are royalty free pictures you can buy at a low price (usually around £1 or less per picture) and use on your websites.

Once the picture has been bought, you can use it under specific license terms. But so can all other people who have bought that same exact picture. So are stock images good or bad for your website? Let’s try to find out.

The upside

  • Convenient

    Creating or taking an original picture can take quite some time and requires some good designer or photographer skills. It will therefore always be easier and quicker to go to a stock image website and pick the ones you need. The process is pretty simple: all you need to do is buy credits and download the pictures you want at your chosen resolution. This is obviously the simplest option to add pictures to your blog posts or websites.

  • Cheap

    If you do not have any graphic designer skills, you would need to find a professional who will charge you anything between £10 to £30 an hour to get the picture you need. A stock image will cost you £1 or less. You will also be able to find your pictures within minutes while it could take up to several days to get the picture you want from a graphic designer. So if you are looking for quick and cheap options to get pictures on your websites, stock images are the answer.

  • OK from an SEO perspective

    Matt Cutts from Google recently confirmed that the use of stock images on websites was absolutely fine and did not influence search engine rankings at all. So it looks like you do not need original pictures to make it to the top of Google, which is good news for all future and existing stock image users.

The downside

  • Search results for images

    Google will rarely show duplicates in their image search results which means that having stock images on your website will reduce your chances to appear on there. This will therefore lead to a loss in potential traffic to your website.

  • Lack of a unique identity

    How many times have you seen that same picture of a woman with headsets over several different websites? That is the number one danger with stock images: your website will not stand out from others’ within the same sector of activity. If you do not spend enough time looking for the right stock pictures or creating your own, your website will have this déjà vu feel to it. Imagery is your brand identity so you should make that extra effort to get it right.

In conclusion it will always be better to have your own unique images on your website. But if you decide to use stock images make sure to check your competitors’ websites first and try to find some that will make yours stand out. This means you will need to come up with original ideas to illustrate your pages and spend as much time as required looking for the right stock images. This will help avoid your website and photos being seen as cliché.

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