Do Stock Photos Affect Google Search Rankings? Matt Cutts Says No


A new Google Webmaster help video with Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts brings up a topic that most webmasters don’t think about – whether stock photography versus original photography has any impact on search engine rankings.

For those of you who are lacking in artistic skills, or just don’t have the resources to take photos related to every single webpage you produce, it appears as though you do not have much to worry about at this point.

“Does using stock photos on your page have a negative effect on your ranking? To the best of my knowledge the answer is no. Do original photos help help you? To the best of my knowledge it doesn’t really make a difference whether it’s a stock photo versus an original photo," Cutts said in the video.

However, the one caveat is that Cutts does ponder if it could somehow be used as a signal in future search quality rankings.

“But you know what that is a great suggestion for 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.”

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.