Studies show that incorporating images in content can significantly improve the client's ability to attract and retain attention. The longer your audience stays on a website page, the better your rankings on the SERPs will be.
With images having such a huge significance on your website's performance, you want to pay much attention to them. Ideally, you should use custom images, but getting them is not always possible as it can be costly and time-consuming.
The second best option is using quality stock images. When used correctly, stock images can yield excellent results. Unfortunately, many website owners do not know how to best use stock images.
If you fall in this group, this guide can help you change your approach to using stock photos to ensure you get the most out of them.
What Are Stock Photos?
If you are new to using imagery in your content, stock photos may be a new concept to you, so the best place to start understanding how to use stock images is to know what they are.
Stock images can be photos, illustrations, and icons created by a content creator and then placed on stock image platforms where they can choose to sell licenses for their work for free or charge a fee.
Usually, the platforms sell the licensees, while content creators earn royalties from the sales.
How to Use Stock Photos Effectively
1. Avoid Overused Images
There are millions of stock photos on the internet. But just as the photos are many, so are the users. As a result, some of the best images will have every user wanting to use them.
Unfortunately, using an image that has been overused can mean that your audience may view your content as unoriginal. The chance of using overused images is higher when using free-to-use stock images.
While free images are okay, you may want to consider a Google image search to see how widely used an image is before adding it to your content.
2. Remove the Photo's Background If it Doesn't Suit Your Site.
If you are using free-to-use stock images, you can put your spin on them to make them suited for the purpose you want to use them for. There are several ways of spinning an image; you could crop it to remove the parts you do not need, change colors, or overlay them with images that can help match your brand's identity.
Another effective way of spinning a stock photo is to erase the background of your picture to eliminate all the distractions you do not need on the image while adding what you want. For example, you could add images, colors, or brand names as the background to make it unique and have it serve the purpose you intended.
However, you must ensure that you understand the terms of the licenses clearly to avoid the chances of running into copyright infringement claims.
3. Optimize Your Photos for SEO
All photos have a name, even those you take on your phone or a camera. Digital cameras are set to embed a name on the photo for easy sorting. These names come in different formats based on your device and photo format. For example, it could have a name such as 098 jpg, 098 NEF, 098png, etc.
The same applies to photos downloaded from the internet. In most cases, downloaded images will have the content creator's name. So if you have to use it on your content, you should optimize it for SEO to get the most out of it.
Image optimization involves changing its name, adding metadata description, and resizing it for the platform you intend to use.
4. Use Them to Spice up Your Image Collection
It's always best to use custom images on your content. But irrespective of how great of a photographer you are, it's impossible to create all the images you need. So stock images can help spice up your collection.
For example, you can use them as backgrounds for banner and poster designs, blog graphics, and any type of content where your custom images may not be sufficient.
They are also perfect for overlays where you could use them to create the perfect feel for your images if ordinary edits like gradient overlay can’t help you get the desired outcomes.
5. Choose Images That Relate To Your Content
Using images on your content can indeed help improve its attention retention. But using the wrong image can do the opposite.
For example, if your website or content revolves around beauty and makeup, you will want to use an image related to the industry to get your audience's attention.
Using an unrelated image, such as a luxury car, on such content or website could leave your audience viewing your content as unrelated to what they want, negatively affecting your reach, even when you have the most information.
Therefore, before settling on an image, put yourself in the audience's shoes, and ask yourself if the image you choose will set the tone you intend to have it send. If not, don't use it.
Stock photography comes with license restrictions that can vary based on the platform you choose or the type of content you choose. There are three main approaches to stock image licensing; royalty-free, rights-managed, and extended licenses.
Under a royalty-free license, you can use the images without paying for copyright licenses. Sometimes the content creator will require you to use proper attribution to their creations, so it's important to understand the limitations of this license.
Under rights-managed licenses, the person who purchases a copyright license can only use an image as specified in the license agreements. These agreements can include one-time use or use within a specified geographical location.
Extended licenses allow the license holder to make an unlimited impression of the image and resell them, for example, where the image is printed in merchandise. However, the rights may limit how long you can use a particular image. Understanding the different rights is important because it can help you avoid legal trouble.