For Now, Stock Photography Won’t Hurt Your Rankings

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Depending on your skill set, a recent Webmaster video may be good or bad news to bloggers and site owners out there. Most people have never considered whether stock photography or original photography has any effect on search engine rankings. As it happens, not even Matt Cutts has thought about it much.

There are tons of writers out there who don’t have the resources or talent with a camera to take pictures for every page or article they put out. Rather than deliver countless walls of text that people don’t like looking at, most of us without the artistic talent instead use stock photos to make the pages less boring and help our readers understand us more. For now, we have nothing to worry about.

Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, used his latest Webmaster Chat to address this issue, and he says that to the best of his knowledge, original vs. stock photography has no impact on how your pages rank. However, he won’t rule it out for the future.

“But you know what that is a great suggestion for a future signal that we could look at in terms of search quality. Who knows, maybe original image sites might be higher quality, whereas a site that just repeat the same stock photos over and over again might not be nearly as high quality. But to the best of my knowledge, we don’t use that directly in our algorithmic ranking right now.”

Logically, I would say that if Google does decide to start consideration photo originality on web pages, Cutts appears to be more worried about sites that use the same images “over and over” rather than those who search for relevant and unique stock images for articles. Penalizing every website owner without a hired photographer to continuously produce images for every new page would seem a bit overkill.

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