The latest search engine updates have recently made it very clear that the less images you have on your website, the more Google will ignore you. Seems pretty harsh, doesn’t it? Before you let yourself get overly discouraged, or take your feelings to the other extreme, and start overloading your web pages with irrelevant images, it is best you take a hard look at what steps will positively affect your SEO, and what steps will hurt your SEO. Google’s latest bottom line has made it pretty clear that unless your website has at least one high-quality, relevant image on each page, your SEO will bleed out, and fast.
To all of you website owners who have an easier time putting pen to paper than finger to flash here is the scoop on why Google loves images, and why we better follow suit. Before getting into the nitty gritty, the ultimate fact is, images look good. The world is a much different place than it once was, and that daily newspaper is no longer filled with column to column black and white text. Today, images fuel our society. These small frames, which capture a distinct moment in time captivate our minds, entice our eyes, and mesmerize our senses. The majority of today’s online society relies on a delicate juxtaposition of text and images in order to truly relate to what they are seeing on the screen.
To add to society’s ever-growing list of dependencies, “sharing” is a trend that has recently taken on a new life. Sharing posts online has become so popular, that a website without a sharing tools option is considered as outdated as parachute pants. The key to allowing website users to effectively share your posts, is to attach each post with a relevant image. Ultimately, by leaving a well-written post imageless, you are doing yourself a huge injustice. All of the time, and effort you spent researching, writing, and editing will go to waste if no one can successfully share your post with others. Moreover, that same post that you worked so hard to write will be disregarded my Google Almighty if the post lacks a high-quality image to perfectly compliment it.
Seeing as images have become the not-so-secret ingredient to website success, it makes sense that one of the biggest trends sweeping the internet today is “free images”. This most recent popular trend earned its fame from its most direct counterpart; the copyrighted image. It has simply become too risky for website owners to fill their pages with copyright-protected images, so the internet world now follows one very cut-and-dry rule, “take your own pictures, or spend your time scouring tips for tricks the internet for free ones”. Unfortunately for those who do not know their way with a Nikon, option “B” is easier said than done. Coming by suitable copyright-free images on the internet is now harder than ever, nonetheless, the demand for these images continues to grow. On the flip side, website owners with a knack for photography have certainly cracked-down on anyone hoping to hitch a free ride. So when Google closed the door, and made is nearly impossible for anyone to steal, and republish copyrighted images, new services, and developments came along and opened up a window.
Remember all those times your mother used to remind you that nothing good in life comes free? With copyright-free images being so high in demand, it was only a matter of time before new companies started popping up left, and right to fill the void. Website owners jumped at the idea of signing-up, and gaining access to a free library filled with images that they could use anytime, and anywhere. The sad truth is, the majority of these image stock websites that publicize offering “Free Images”, are really offering fake dreams. More often than not, after having signed-up, a website owner will get smacked with subscription fees, and image costs. Some website owners will ultimately pay the 99 cent fee on each image, but for the handful of website owners who are hoping to capitalize off their website before they sink more pennies into it, the 99 cent fee becomes the deal-breaker.
The next step the free-image-seeking desperado often takes, is to fill his web pages with any images he can find, but hold your horses there too, cowboy. Google is too smart for that. Nowadays, filling that well-written tech post with a picture of your furry cat, Pebbles, is not good enough. Google is getting smarter by the megabyte, and is now able to recognize the images you are using to fill your pages. The images you place side-by-side with your posts must correlate in order for your pages to get the recognition they deserve.
The good news is, there are a select number of service-providers who can be considered “the good guys” in the search to finding free images. Among them, is Foter.com. This free stock photos website offers completely free images, and is also available as a WordPress plugin. As to be expected, however, with the good comes the not-so-good, and to that effect Foter.com has a limited library of photos, some of which are not the best quality. Website owners considering to start browsing Foter.com’s database of photos should also keep in mind that any image they decide to use for their website requires attribution information in order to publish it on their website.
PhotoDropper is another website that teeters on the fence between good and bad. PhotoDropper is also offered as a WordPress plugin, and has an extensive library of photos. Before you set your sights on that highly-relevant image, however, be sure to read the fine print. PhotoDropper has a pretty vast library of photos, the catch is that most of the good ones are only available under their “premium package”. You are sure to find some useful images from their collection of free photos, but ultimately going to the candy store only to find out that you are allowed to fill up on gummy worms alone, will leave you headed out of the store with nothing more than toothache.