Certainly Not a Stock Photo for Search Engine Optimization

See this cute kitten looking through eyeglasses? Do you think it’s a stock photograph?

Actually, it’s two, with some magic done to put them together. I found them both on the first page of results searching Google Images for “stock photography”, and you probably can do the same. Go ahead, run down the originals.

Consider that “attribution”.

Yesterday, our buddy Matt Cutts devoted his latest SEO Video to the subject of Stock Photography. As SEO Lessons go it doesn’t say much; the question was whether the inclusion of Stock Photography in a web page would hurt your Search Engine Optimization, and Matt’s answer was basically “not yet”:

Great. So now, on the horizon, there’s something new to worry about as you try to stay ahead of Google in Optimization and Influency.

Actually, new-item-added-to-Matt-Cutts’-Radar notwithstanding, this isn’t really an issue at all, because using stock photography is a bad idea—unless you can figure out how to tip that statement. And that’s Influency.

Stock Photography is bad because people can sniff it right out. If I used those glasses in their original perfectly-lit-and-cropped state you would have known right away that it was stock photography, and people are getting smarter than that. Tell the truth; when you visit a web site and there’s a group of perfect people sitting at a conference table you run the other way.

That’s the main point for today: stock photography is bad. It rarely helps your presentation and can actually hurt your Influency* in what are becoming-ever-less-subtle ways. The trademark and copyright issues are important, and if you do use stock photography you need to be careful how, but the simplest way to approach this for most businesses is simple: don’t.

But the issue will eventually overlap with Search Engine Optimization, too. Matt Cutts will see to it. And so if you do use stock photography you need to make plans for protecting and growing your Influency so when the penalties hit they don’t hit you. That’s right; links away from your website are OK, but you must understand how to manage them.

Sound like a lot to keep track of? Not at all; let The Answer Guy manage your Influency for you.

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