There is a reason people gravitate towards glossy magazines and comic books. It is because of all the colorful pictures. It is also for the same reason that the modern generation is attracted more towards a movie than a novel. The reason behind this behavior is simple. It is easier to process information when it is in a visual form. Imagine a billboard that only has lines of text. People might be intrigued by it, but no one would read it. At the same time if there is a picture of a beautiful model accompanying the text, suddenly people start paying attention to it. It is not different in the world of websites either. In fact, such behavior is even more commonplace on the internet.
As we all know, online users have a very short attention span, and they need something to hook them to your website, and one of the best ways to do that is by using vivid, colorful and high-quality images. Don't get us wrong. Great content is still necessary! It is what ultimately matters, but you need great photos so that visitors to your website are interested enough to stay and read what you have to say.
The obvious question now is how to get these awesome images? You do not have to become a photographer or hire one. There is a wonderful option available, and it is using stock photos.
What are stock photos?
The first thing you need to understand is that images are intellectual properties. This means that you cannot willy-nilly copy images from search engines and other websites. Someone owns the rights to these images and using them without their permission is paramount to stealing. Stock photos are images that have been captured or produced with the sole intention of being used by others and it is these images that can be used by you on your website. These images come with some sort of an agreement which allows you to use it without infringing any copyrights or intellectual property laws.
Some of you might be apprehensive about the quality of stock images. Will they be any good? They can actually be amazing. Most sites that offer stock images get their images from multiple sources. As the competition is high, the quality of work is quite high, and you will be stunned at how beautiful and breathtaking most of these images are. You need the patience to go through it and choose the right one. Usually, this task is made easier as the photos are categorized based on their theme, and a simple search can lead you to sometimes thousands of the most stunning pictures related to your content.
Types of stock photographs
Stock photos can be categorized in many ways, but the one that is relevant here is cost.
Paid stock photos: This is usually what most people think of when they hear the words "stock photos." Typically, you get to see a small preview of the image with a watermark. You have the option of purchasing the license for the image to get the full-sized image without the watermark which allows you to use it in different ways. Usually, each photo costs anywhere from $10 to $12. Many websites that sell these stock photos also offer monthly and yearly plans which are a lot cheaper if you will need stock photos on a regular basis.
Free stock photos: As soon as someone hears "free" they think of a compromise and an inferior quality. Surprisingly, that is not the case with stock photos. Many online directories offer a wide range of images totally free of cost, and many of these images are as good as if not better than the paid options. The number of photos available is a bit less compared to the paid sites, but with each such free website offering upwards of 50,000 images, that is hardly a problem. The quality of these free stock photos are amazing and often rival those of its paid counterparts. With cooperation with Pixabay, we offer easy access to their collection of 1.5 million royalty free stock photos which can easily be added to your website with VEVS content management system.
The best websites for free stock images are as follows: pixabay.com, pexels.com, unsplash.com
Free stock photos offer you more freedom
You would be forgiven to assume that paying for a stock image will allow you to use it however you want. That is not true as you can't do just about anything with these images. For example, you can't let visitors to your website download it as the license only allows you to use it and not redistribute it. Free stock photos mostly come under the "Creative Commons Zero (CC0)" license which means that you have complete freedom to do whatever you want with these images from modification to redistribution which is an excellent proposition.
Wouldn't others use these images as well?
This is the thought that stops most people from going all in with free stock images. The thing you have to understand is that paid stock images aren't free from this problem either. Paying for a stock image does not make you its sole owner. Anyone else can come along, pay for it and use it just the way you do. Online businesses need uniqueness to succeed over the competition that pertains mostly to the content. Also, the massive number of options when it comes to free stock images means that the probability of two people using the same set of pictures on their website is quite low. You can bring this probability further down by doing an extra bit of legwork. Most of the sites that offer free stock images show the stats related to each image. Avoid the ones that have been downloaded the most often and instead opt for something that not many people have downloaded yet.
Scenarios when free stock photos will not work
Free stock images for all their benefits are not all-powerful, and there can be cases when they might not be that useful. This especially applies when you are writing unique content like reviewing a specific product. In that case, you might have to hone your photography skills or hire a professional. However, the chances of not finding a free stock photo related to your content are meager and more often than not you will be able to something that applies to the content on your website.
Can I not avoid images altogether?
You can, but it will be a considerable hindrance to getting more traffic to your website. Imagine Las Vegas without all the colorful buildings and the lights. It becomes just another city on earth. What separates it is the visual spectacle it puts up. In the same way, you could have the most amazing content, but no images mean that people won't put in the effort to absorb the content you no doubt prepared with great care and energy. Think of these images as the treats offered to children so that they eat their vegetables. It also leaves a lasting impression and makes certain types of content easy to understand. A great example of such content is tutorials. You could use a thousand words to explain the various steps, and the reader might still be confused. Put a picture to illustrate what you mean, and suddenly the reader knows exactly what to do. When they successfully apply this knowledge, trust is built between them and your website which is the foundation of growing your online presence.
It also increases your search results footprint. If all you have are texts on your website, then your site will only be shown when the user searches with the "all" option. If on the other hand, they search with the "images" option, your website will not be visible. Also, the way search engine work these days are that they usually display a few thumbnails related to the search term before the actual search results begin and these often get clicked on the most often and your website will only be eligible for this if it has images.
How to make your images SEO friendly?
You can take it all a step further by employing a few easy techniques to ensure that your images are interpreted correctly by the search engines. Accurately define each image under the "alt" option. Check our knowledge base to see how easy it is with VEVS website builder Name the photos intuitively as well instead of naming them generically. Make sure that the pictures are evenly distributed and not all clumped together in one place. Finally, do not overuse images. Just like having too much candy can spoil your appetite, too many photos can distract and even overwhelm the visitors to your website. A golden rule of thumb is to have at least 250 words between each image and not more than 750 words.
The expression "a picture is worth a 1000 words" has been used so many times that it has become a cliché. It is however very accurate, and free stock images are one of the most formidable weapons in your arsenal. You have to make sure that you exploit it to its full potential!