Published on September 29th, 2015 | by Adams N


Nothing Says “Amateur!” Like Using Generic Stock Photos

I guess it has already been said more than million times that an image is more effective than dozens of expertly written blog posts. Yet still, many businesses fail to grasp the importance of quality images on their web pages. What we encounter every day are generic stock images that are so predictable that they seem to come from the same photo lab. So, let’s make a difference between what is good for the year 2015 and what should have been left in the 1990s.

Importance of Quality Images

Images play a vital role in SEO by driving more traffic to a desired page. Uniquely optimized images can increase the amount of traffic through the Image Search engines. In addition, images are essential for social media promotion. Chunks of text are boring, and it is actually an interesting image that drives a user to click the link bellow and explore what’s behind the scenes. If the article is interesting enough, the user will share the link with his or her friends, again by using pictures to draw their attention.

Commercial Value

Businesses that operate online stores need genuine and amazing images to promote the products they sell. The link between online sales and attractive images was established long ago. With the same importance, images are crucial for shaping the company’s brand. And this is not possible with generic pictures. Many users directly relate a website design with the company credibility.

Nothing Says "Amateur!" Like Using Generic Stock Photos

You Certainly Want to Avoid These

This is a list of some common image dead ends, which seem never to die.

  • Unnatural emotions – a delighted face of a person who’s just bought and tried your product or service, or a desperate look of a guy who’s just missed the special offer. While these images are strong, people easily discern them as insincere.

No living person makes these faces when buying a product. A much better approach is to contact a few of your customers and make an interview followed with a couple of photos. Even amateur pictures made in natural setting will be more convincing than over-exaggerated emotions.

  • Happy people in suits – a few TV shows from the 1990s made an image of happy corporate people minding their business in a gleaming NY skyscraper office a popular way to promote a trusted and reliable company. But, how many people can actually connect with this setting?

No one buys that anymore. This is the time when more entrepreneurs are engaged in small garage businesses and humble startups. Give your stock photos an edge by showing us your office as it really is.

  • People with laptops – this is the one often used by self-made stock magnates, freelancers, developers, writers and travelers. Do you think that someone actually believes that the stock trader in the picture made his fortune by sipping a margarita while tracking indexes from a hammock, with a turquoise lagoon of Bora Bora and the stilt bungalows in the background? What calamity has forced a young developer to work on a code while sitting atop one of the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons? These pictures have one thing in common – they are hard to believe and identify with.
  • Boards – at one point someone took a motivational stock image of a green board with an infographic of a sort and thousands of others followed the suit. I am not sure what the board stands for, but it’s hard to find an “about us” page that hasn’t got at least one photo with a green board, whiteboard or glass board. Some designers even got inventive and figured out that they don’t need the board at all – just a person writing figures in air.

This approach is actually not very informative. Users still haven’t got a slightest clue what the company does and why should they trust it. The only message that these board pics send is “We are so cool”.

It is absolutely understandable that bloggers, SEOs and marketers cannot always make or find unique and tailored photos for their needs. There is nothing wrong in using stock images, but you have to be careful not to pick those which are unrealistic, meaningless and low quality. On the other hand, a good picture should look professional, informative and bear value for the page.


About the Author

Neil Adams is an Australia based entrepreneur and aspiring writer who’s been running his own online business for four years now. His interests are in the fields of marketing, startup culture, business psychology and self improvement. When not in his home office he loves adventuring around Australia and beyond.

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