Matt Cutts: Stock Images Currently Don't Impact Rankings But We'll Look Into It

Jun 18, 2013 • 8:24 am | comments (12) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

stock imageGoogle's Matt Cutts latest video answers a quick question, "does using stock photos on your pages have a negative effect on rankings?" The answer is currently no.

The images you use on a page have no ranking impact, either positive or negative, on that web page ranking well or not. At least directly.

Matt doesn't get into the possibility of nicer, more unique, images having more of an appeal to readers, bloggers and reporters. Which then can encourage more shares and links to the story. But looking at stock images as a ranking factor is currently something not done.

Matt Cutts said they will look into maybe looking at using the unique value of an image as being part of the ranking algorithm or a signal in the ranking algorithm. But I am not sure if he meant that. :)

Anyway, stock images, like the one I used here, should have no impact on this story not ranking.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for stock image

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06/18/2013 12:43 pm

Honestly, such a waste of Matt's time to have to come out and talk about a bloody stock image.

Ali Moghadam

06/18/2013 12:44 pm

It would be interesting to see this implemented and the potential impact it would have on an increasingly visual web. Images are at the forefront right now and giving value to unique images seems a smart way to distinguish between unique and generic content. But - and it's a big but - unique doesn't necessarily mean quality, and other than resolution/compression and other technical details, Googlebot isn't going to be able to tell an epic image from an accidental photo of the inside of your pocket. Facial recognition has made leaps recently and once machines can pick a more abstract image apart with any real knowledge of what they're seeing, things will get really interesting!

Josh Zehtabchi

06/18/2013 12:56 pm

Not really. Because it goes deeper than 'stock' images, now you can spin this as stolen images. I think there needs to be more protection against image theft.

Ali Moghadam

06/18/2013 01:32 pm

Image theft is just too easy to do. Unlike music or video, there's just not enough protection and hardly anyone talks about it. There's not a lot people can do beyond watermarking everything. You could engineer images to be difficult to steal, but after all, any image you see online is a screen dump away from your hard drive.

Josh Zehtabchi

06/18/2013 01:34 pm

Actually (please correct me if I'm wrong) I believe I saw a study/test/post on Google or Bing that they /can/ detect image variations. Eg, they compare file size, pixel count (and other high tech stuff) in order to determine an image is copied. Sure, throwing a watermark is good protection, but I think more weight should be placed on the search engines to target stolen images just as they would target stolen content. Of course, my humble opinion ;)


06/18/2013 04:20 pm

I agree with you, but having good understanding of this niche I can tell you that Google definitely cannot tell which image is stolen and which is not. They are light years behind being able to do this...

Josh Zehtabchi

06/18/2013 04:21 pm

Oh, I believe you 100%. They can't even figure out stolen content half the time.

Tim Wright

06/18/2013 11:14 pm

Surely it ought to be looked at. As we are all beavering away making the web a better place with unique, quality content, images naturally play a part. Ecommerce in particular got pulled up for vendors lazily using supplier copy, and rightly so, so why not for bringing nothing new to the party with stock images.


06/20/2013 03:48 pm

So are videos and music. Any music or video that is played on your computer can easily be ripped to a video/music file with very little effort, it doesn't matter if its streaming or compressed or whatever, if you couldn't rip it, your computer also wouldn't be able to play it, its exactly the same process. It doesn't matter what it is, if you put it on the web and it doesn't have built in security (aka a program) then its vulnerable to been stolen.

Ali Moghadam

06/25/2013 09:14 am

Yeah I know, but I guess there's not the same stigma attached to it.


06/25/2013 10:35 am

Well if Google prefer unique and high quality articles, why shouldn't they prefer unique and high quality photos?


06/25/2013 03:27 pm

Absolutely identical images are easy to detect, once they have been resized or any alternations at all, even just a pixel, then it becomes a whole different ball-game.

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