According to MDG Advertising, 67% of online shoppers said high-quality images were very important to their purchasing decision. In this study, images were rated as more important than product-specific information, detailed descriptions and reviews and ratings. 

So to appeal to your audience, your organization should make it a priority to up your photography game. We generally recommend that clients use their own photos on their websites. However, sometimes that means spending money and time on custom photography. One way to save on both is by using stock photography—which is certainly much better than no photos.

Before you jump into the world of stock photography, however, there are a few considerations and obstacles we want you to keep an eye out for. Below are some of our stock photography tips and tricks to help you make stock photos feel custom while avoiding potential stock photo issues.

Make Sure Your Stock Photos Aren’t Overused

On Unsplash, you can find seemingly infinite pictures to fit any mood or theme on your website. Despite the sheer volume of pictures out there, a lot of the same stock photos get used over and over again across the internet. 

We recommend performing a Google Images “search by image” search before you commit to any specific photo. All you have to do is drag the photo file into the Google Images search bar and it’ll search for every appearance of that picture across the internet. Google will then show you where a picture exists on other websites and how many other websites already use it. 

If a stock photo depicts something common in your industry, it’s possible your competitors use the photo already. Doing a Google Image search helps you avoid looking like you’re copying your competitors and ensures you use photos that aren’t too common. By choosing less commonly used stock photos, you can make your site look unique and more custom made.

Use Stock Photos Your Audience Relates To

Don’t choose images without putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Before you select any pictures, think about how you want to represent your organization and what you want your audience to see. The photos you choose set the tone for your brand, so make sure you use pictures that reflect how you want to be perceived and how you think your visitors will respond.

For example, if your site is aimed at Gen Z, think digital, active and youthful. Images that represent the experiences of your target audience will subconsciously help those visiting your site to connect with your brand.

Put Your Own Spin on Stock Photos

Once you’ve selected your stock imagery, you can alter the pictures to help them blend in with your brand. Do this by adding typography, cropping unneeded elements, changing colors or overlaying a gradient of your brand colors. Image editors like Photoshop, Pixlr, PicMonkey and GIMP are quick and simple ways to help pictures match the rest of your branding.

And you don’t have to choose entirely between stock photos and custom photography. A combination of both can help your website look more complete and make the stock photos blend in even more seamlessly. 

Optimize Your Stock Photos for SEO

Typically, when you download stock photos, the file you download will be named after the photographer who took the photo. It’s in your best interest to rename the photo files and change them to something more relevant to your brand. 

It’s also important to rename your photos for SEO optimization, so name them based on keywords related to the pictures and your organization. Pro tip: Once you rename the files, be sure to use the same file name for the alt text of the pictures. 

There is a time and place for stock photography—like when you want to save money and time. And you can make your stock photos more customized and engaging by utilizing the quick tips outlined above. When you can, incorporate your custom photos that show off your team and the work you do—it will reinforce your organization’s authenticity and relatability. But take advantage of stock photos to add to your website’s visual appeal and continue your story.

Firespring can help your organization tell its story with head-turning photography, videography, animation and illustration that’ll make people stop—and pay attention.