The content on a page is crucial for SEO and should aim to offer information to the audience, while helping a search engine rank the page. A well-written and informative page is imperative for this purpose.
However, you cannot just have the text and retain the focus of the reader for long. Adding images helps in keeping the reader for a longer period. It is a common practice that stock photos are used on different web pages.
In this post we will clarify what stock photos are and whether using stock images can have an effect on your search engine rankings.
What are Stock Photos
Photographers take many pictures that are not associated with any particular project. Similarly, illustrators make vector images with meaning. They offer these images and vectors to one or more companies. The stock photo agencies, in turn, offer these assets to their clients.
Stock Photo agencies have existed for over 100 years now, and in the current day, they are primarily available online. They operate based on variable models for payments.
The images can cost between a few cents and several dollars. You can benefit from the various payment modes offered by stock photo websites. While there are many sites from which you can get free images, you can purchase fully licensed stock photos at very low prices.
Should You Use Stock Images on Your Website
Lots of websites use stock images. The reasons are pretty simple. Stock images are relatively cheap, you can easily find one that suits your webpage, and you can have them available for use instantly.
Taking your own images by hiring a professional photographer or illustrator can be a cumbersome job that will cost you a fair bit of money. Even then, you will only have some pictures that you can use. Before long, you will need to rehire the photographer, or illustrator.
Google’s take on Impact of Stock Photos on SEO
Senior Google Executive John Muller has clearly said on twitter that stock images do not have a direct impact on the rankings. However, he also mentions:
So it's important that you sensibly use stock photos and do not force them into every corner of the page. Also try to use images that are not over utilized. You can always edit stock photos to make them more relevant to the message you are trying to convey.
How to Optimize Stock Photos
Stock photos are important for a good appearance of a web page. As we’ve heard from John Muller, they don’t have any direct substantial impact on the SEO efforts.
However, when used in the right manner, they have a positive effect on the overall content, which helps page ranking.
Let’s dig in further to see how stock photos can be optimized for the best results.
In the first step, you have images that are relevant to the post. If your photos are randomly placed, they will force the audience to leave the page right away instead of helping them focus on your content.
For example, if you are offering tourism services in the US, you should not have images of London and Paris on that particular page. Images should also be placed next to the relevant text.
Use of Alt Text
Alt Text, or alternative text, are used within an HTML code to describe an image. The crawlers from the various search engines cannot understand pictures, but the alt text guides them. With their help, the search engine determines what the image is about.
For example, in the case of a visually impaired individual, alt text helps them as the voice describes the image. These can also be helpful when the image fails to open due to a slow internet connection. An example of a good alt tag would be: Brown cat sleeping on the floor.
Use Keywords in File Names
Keywords play a significant role in attaining a high ranking in a search result. These can be used in the file names for your pictures to help Google and other search engines recognize images related to the specific content. However, it's important to avoid keyword stuffing
There should be a "-" after every word. It is also not a bad idea to have a reasonably sized name. Sometimes people start describing the complete scenario in the file name, which makes it too long. An example of good filename: brown-cat-sleeping.jpg
Compress Large Images
You must ensure that the images can load quickly once somebody opens your webpage. If it takes forever to open, people will leave the website in a hurry. It also helps to compress these images if they're too big. There are several free image resizers available online that can help compress the image without compromising on its quality.
The Bottom Line
Stock photos can be a great addition to your website. The key is to place relevant images that complement the content and add value for the audience. Stock Photos also cost a lot less than hiring a professional photographer and getting pictures taken.
In terms of SEO, images have both a direct and indirect role. Their descriptions and Alt Tags help the search engines understand what they are. These are the direct effects of these photos.
However, images that add value to the content and retain the readers on the page for longer have a massive indirect impact. If the images are compressed and help the page open quickly, that is another big boost.
We can say that stock photos have multiple positive impacts on a website. They must be used carefully to avoid overcrowding on the page and retain the audience for a longer period.