Blog: Web Design
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Don’t Use Google Images On Your Website

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

Where do you get images for your website?

If you’re like a sizeable chunk of the population, you might just do a Google Image search and get images from there.

But if you’ve been uploading these onto your website, there’s a reason why you stop doing this immediately.

The issue has to do with copyright infringement, and the potential risk you’re putting your business in.

If you take a photo, under the copyright law, you own the rights to that photo. You created it.

However, if you’re using other people’s images or photos, it’s possible that you’re infringing their copyright. You could be sued for using their photos without permission.

How bad could it be?

Well, it could be to thousands of dollars. Per image.

Ignorance Of The Law Is Not An Excuse

There’s a lot of people out there who are very protective of their images, and they will not hesitate to you in court over them.

The paid stock photo services are very protective of their photos as well, and they go to great lengths to make sure they are fairly compensated for their use. If they catch you using their photos without paying for them, be prepared to hire an attorney.

Obviously, this is a lot of risk for you or your business to carry over some photos. But there are alternatives.

What Are The Alternatives To Google Images?

There are three safe paths you can take for selecting photos to use on your site.

  • 1. Take your own photos.
  • 2. Buy stock photos or license royalty-free photos (paid).
  • 3. Use creative commons licensed photos or public domain photos (free to use).

Take Your Own Photos

Taking your own photos is easier now than ever before and the safest way to go. You can use a camera or even your phone to take photos. You own the copyright on these, as you are the creator.

Paying For Stock Photos

Another route you can take is to buy stock photos or royalty-free photos. This usually means you pay a one-time fee to download and use a certain number of photos. Here are some of the major stock photo outlets.

The prices on these will vary. Getty Images and iStock are the most expensive at this moment, but also have more high-quality, super-high resolution photos than their counterparts. Decide what makes the most sense for your business — just make sure you avoid using stock photo cliches on your sites.

Creative Commons Photos

There are also sites that allow you to download photos to use how you wish. The following sites don’t require attribution (giving credit to the photographer) for their photos.

Creative Commons Photos

Many photos on Flickr allow you to use photos with attribution, as do some photos on Wikipedia Commons. Be sure to check the license for each photo before you use it, and follow the instructions for proper attribution.

Another Tip

If you want to use a photograph of a famous or noteworthy person, do yourself a favor and use one of the higher-end stock photos sites. Getty Images owns the rights to most of the photos of recent celebrities.

If you don’t know the person who originally took the photo, and have their permission to use the photo, err on the side of caution.


Now you know plenty of other places you get images for your website besides Google Images. If you think you’ve been guilty of this, take an afternoon and swap out your existing photos for properly licensed ones. Better safe than sorry.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

4 comments on “Don’t Use Google Images On Your Website

  1. Awesome post!

    It’s funny – I’ll always tell clients not to use images from Google, as there’s a good chance they’ll get sued.. but sometimes they just don’t listen!

    Great resources, though – I’ve used Pexels the most in the past, but I’l definitely have to check out some others you’ve posted here. Bookmarked 🙂

  2. Yep. The cost of settling a copyright claim far outweighs the cost of getting stock images from a royalty-free images provider like iStock, Shutterstock, or BigStock, or through a Creative Commons source like Pexels, Unsplash, or StockSnap.

  3. Agree with you John. Another alternative: rawpixel.com. The site have great exclusive images especially those in regards to business and people that are hard to come by on other free sites. Hope you check it out.

    Cheers,

    Tip

    1. Hi Tip:

      I think it’s great that RawPixel is another alternative that people can use. Especially because some the Pexels and Unsplash images are getting used extensively around the web.

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