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Will Google Push for the End of Cheap Stock Photos?

March 14, 2014 | Branding, SEO, Web Design

It’s a pet peeve of mine: cheap, ugly stock photos that are overused everywhere, most especially on blogs.

I’m glad that people are starting to understand that a visual can help make web content more engaging. But I hate the way people just stick a poor-quality, royalty-free photo on every blog post without really considering if it adds anything to the message or more importantly to the brand image of the company behind it.

How many more business people silhouettes, handshakes, or globes can we all take?

The parallel to all the poor blog writing out there is clear. People realize that quality writing is what really draws interest in your story, yet most companies cannot write compelling stories themselves and refuse to pay someone to do so. Similarly, they understand that quality imagery enhances a story, but they also refuse to pay for them.

By refuse to pay, I don’t presume to say that every ugly stock image is free. But when people without an eye towards visuals start rooting around in low-quality, royalty-free sources, the results are usually pretty ugly. Rather than pay for a designer to help select a high-quality image, they do a quick search from a source with rock bottom prices. Many find it hard to see the value in these supplementary images.

I was pleased to recently come across one of Matt Cutts’ videos where he says that Google may consider original photography as a signal of search quality in the future.

Listen to what Matt Cutts has to say about stock photos vs. original photography.

I, for one, would welcome this change. If the all-powerful-Google starting penalizing people for duplicate stock photos, it would be a great triumph for photographers and designers. And would help to force people to think about the quality of the images they are slapping onto to web sites.

What do you think, will Google put this into a future algorithm update?

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