Stock photos are safe!

The most attractive part of any website is not the words, the descriptions, or the word art. The most attractive part of any website is the photos. People are naturally drawn to look at bright, colorful, and large objects first, and it’s the first part of a page that viewers notice. Before looking at anything else, people will first consider the pictures that you have posted.

Just about all of us don’t have the time, tools, or resources to capture the photos that are posted on our sites. I don’t know how to capture someone parachuting out of a plane with an “SEO” sign, nor do I know anyone who would even do that. But I can find such a picture on an image database. These stock photo storage sites are a dime a dozen, but I have always been somewhat apprehensive about using them. Ever since Google updated to Panda, original material has been the bread and butter to getting placed higher in the rankings. And stock photos are anything but original.

My fears were put to rest on June 17 though. Matt Cutts, Google’s face for and developer of their search coding, released a video answering my very concern. In unequivocal terms he said “No.” Stock photos have no effect on search rankings, and there is no worry in using them. Phew. I know my website is going to be getting brighter now. But there are still some things you should keep in mind. Always remember to put up image tags and titles with your photo. Matt Cutts said that photos aren’t used to determine ranking, but the words and descriptions you put up still certainly are! Having the relevant information posted will help the search spider correctly label your site as useful, and therefore deserving of a higher spot in the search rankings. It is absolutely imperative to make sure that you’re on-site organization is optimized to be registered by the search engine. Just be careful that you don’t use too many keywords, because Google will identify this as keyword stuffing. A careful balance needs to be maintained between putting up the necessary titles and flooding yourself with keywords.