Will stock photos hurt your SEO?

Published on
by Brafton Editorial
Google doesn't punish sites using stock photos, but graphic content could become more important for SEO success down the road.

Marketers who publish content for SEO know creativity and originality are key to SEO success. Google’s search algorithm updates have been revised to weed out spammy online content more effectively – i.e. unoriginal articles, blogs, product descriptions that do not provide internet users with value. Still, Google’s Search Engineer Matt Cutts’ latest Webmaster Help Channel video says the photos attached to news articles don’t necessarily have to be original… yet.

Cutts explains that as far as he is concerned, the leading search engine does not use any signals that rank domains higher in SERPs for using original photos in content. Conversely, he reports there’s no algorithm that punishes sites for posting stock photos with their web content.

However, he says the question sparks fodder that could eventually turn into a new ranking signal.

“That’s a great suggestion for a future signal that we could look at in terms of search quality,” Cutts says. “Who knows? Maybe original image sites might be higher quality, whereas sites that just repeat the same stock photos over and over might not be nearly as high quality.”

“Maybe original image sites might be higher quality, whereas sites that just repeat the same stock photos over and over might not be nearly as high quality.”

Although Google hasn’t announced any algorithm updates that target brands’ photos, the search engine has been updating image search results with end-users in mind. Brafton has reported on two changes that could impact website traffic. One provides high-resolution images directly in image search results, so individuals don’t have to visit host sites to see larger images. The other includes navigation arrows to the left and right of images, enabling users to easily sift through photos without clicking on images and redirecting to publishers’ pages.

If there’s truth to Cutts’ response, marketers need to become more vigilant about the graphic content they publish.

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