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Royalty Free Image Search for Search Engine Optimization

All blog posts should have at least one image. A featured image and something in the article to capture the attention and break things up. Good pictures, however, can be hard to find. Using them can be a challenge, too, and that’s the focus of one of our older posts. There are a few things to consider when looking for images that you want to use for you blog posts:

  • Royalty Free (You don’t want to pay for every little image!)
  • Usage Rights: You want to be able to reuse or repost the image.
  • Relevant: You want the content to match your blog.

So what’s the best way to find an image that works for you? We use Google, Bing, or other search engines for so many things online. Google Images has a few tools to make searching for the picture you want easy, so we’ll focus on that. However, other search engines will often have similar features if you click around and dig in their interface. We’ll also go over a few of the most popular websites for gathering images.

What Can You Use Images For?

Images are incredibly important for website pages, blog posts, SMO, and even email campaigns. You can put together a slider bar on your website, toss together a few pictures for a newsletter, or simply share imformation in an easy to understand format! Almost every new webpage these days has at least one picture. Google rankings tend to favor sites that have a decent mix of media. Pictures, video, and text all blend into a higher ranking. People also seem to enjoy pages more that aren’t purely text.

Pictures that you get that are relevant can fit well in many parts of your social and business networking strategy. If you’re sending out an email blast about a new product or service, add in an image. Similarly, you can add sections to your website like image sliders about services and products so that people can see what you are offering, not just read about it. A good example of where pictures should show up can be found in competitor’s websites.

You can look up local or national competition and see what their websites look like, and either imitate or enhance your own.

How To Use Google to Find Images You Want:

When searching for things, it’s important that you search for the right terms. Some examples: Do you want a picture of a car when writing about a DUI? What about if you’re writing about windows? Is there a particular type that you want in a picture? What kind of picture do you want if you’re writing about an event that hasn’t happened yet?

There are features built into Google that can help you search for whatever you want. Our favorite for images is the OR feature. You can combine your searches. Say you were wanting to write an article about doing a cancer walk for charity, you can search “Charity walk 2015 or 2016” and you’ll see results for both years instead of having to do separate searches. For tips on how to use some of the more fun Google search features, here’s an infographic about some of the tools. (Warning: Not all about picture searches!)

Now That You Have A Search:

Google has an Images search page that you can use for many of your searches. It’s fast, easy, and there are only a few things you need to remember. Size, Color, Type, and Usage Rights.

Once you have something in mind for your article, in our case “WordPress”, you can search for images. You can pick from the categories, such as size (Large, medium, icon, Larger Than, or exactly), color (Full color, black & white, transparent), or Usage Rights. That category is important for the average blog user, because you can search for images that are free and unprotected by copyright, or allowed to be reused. There are several options, but the most common one that you will want to use is “Labelled for Reuse“. These images usually come from stock sites, Wikimedia, or other free sources. There will be less, or sometimes no pictures available. However, out of those you do find, you should be able to use without issue!

Please note that some images can be used even without the Labelled for Reuse tag as long as you share the source and link to the original creator of the image! Nobody wants to have their work used without credit. As long as you use the work appropriately and cite it with all respects towards the original source, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

However, Not all images on Google are tagged correctly! If you have any shred of doubt as to who owns the picture, don’t use it! You can take a picture that you find and directly search it by dragging it into Google’s search bar, or by saving the image and then uploading it to Google, also known as a ‘Reverse Image Search.’ If you find any commercial or stock site using the image, you may want to keep looking. We can’t guarantee that this method is foolproof, and any image you don’t take yourself may fall under copyright of someone else or another company. Other ways to tell if an image may be unfit to use:

  • Watermarks (The semi-transparent lettering or images superimposed on a picture.)
  • EXIF data, which shows who took a picture, where, and what sort of license it might have.
  • The image credits, which may point to a private photographer or graphic designer.
  • Signatures of whoever took the photo.

Sometimes, but rarely, you can contact an artist or photographer and ask if you can use their work. When in doubt, either don’t use something, or try to track down the original! We can’t promise that taking images off of Google will be acceptable, do so at your own risk.

Where to Find Images if Not Using Google:

Creative Commons has a lot of images that can be used, though most of them need to be cited back to the owner. Simply say “Image from X and Y” and you can post it! The Creative Commons site also links a lot of the most popular image stock sites, such as Pixabay, Wikimedia, and the Open Clip Art Library.

Some other photo sites at: StockPhotosForFree, PhotoPin, and FreeImages (Previously StockExchange).

As an update for June, 2020, we’re happy to say there are several more sites that you can find free images on! Pexels (Click here), Upsplash (Click here), or Burst (Click here!) These sources claim to have free, copyright-free images, so it might be worth checking them out for any posts or pages you might be crafting.

If you don’t mind spending a bit of cash for some nice images, however, you can purchase your photos from other stock sites that may have a better selection. DepositPhotos, istockphoto, Pixelbay, and Pond5 are some of our favorites. They offer cheap costs for nicer stock images than a lot of free sites. You can usually get bulk pricing and they offer a lot more useful images than a Google search. Don’t be surprised if you find similar images on them, however! The paid images sites do share the same sources for images in some cases. Of course, you can also always make your own pictures with some know-how and your own camera! Back in the past, we used to suggest several other websites. Some are still in operation. Some are not. Microsoft’s Clip Art depository has disappeared, and StockExchange has become, for example. Some of the links in this post may go defunct at any time.

If you have trouble with these steps or websites, you can always contact Cal Coast Web Design to help you find/make pictures for your business website or blog. We’d be happy to help you find just the right image to fit your needs! Give us a call at (949) 229-5932 or fill out a contact form today.