In a recent tweet someone asked Google’s John Mueller if using stock images affects rankings. The person related that a friend has the opinion that using non-original content such as stock photography can indeed affect rankings.
“It doesn’t matter for web-search directly.”
Some might find that answer a little indirect. But I would argue that it accurately communicates that stock images are not a ranking related issue.
The search results are full of top ranked sites that use stock images. Many of Search Engine Journal’s featured images are stock photography and they rank perfectly fine.
There’s a longstanding SEO idea that non-original content is a negative thing that can affect rankings. Obviously there is some truth to non-original content being unable to rank.
But there’s a certain point where that truth can get stretched and used in a different context it’s not meant to apply to.
Stock photography is non-original content. But if Google took off marks for the use of those, half the Internet would never rank.
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Mueller’s answer continued:
“For image search, if it’s the same image as used in many places, it’ll be harder. (There’s also the potential impact on users, after search happens, eg: does it affect conversions if your team photo is obvious stock photography?)”
How to Use Stock Photography for SEO
The best use of stock photography is when there’s a strategy behind the use.