“A picture tells a thousand words,” as the old saying goes.
And in the world of online content, a relevant, high-quality pic goes a long way towards engaging your audience and boosting that precious Google ranking. Not only do pictures help tell your story, but they can also add immeasurably to your SEO.
However, you can’t just use any old picture. It needs to be relevant, attractive and optimized, not to mention royalty free.
This blog post will teach you the ropes before presenting 10 websites where you can find high-resolution images for free.
Using Relevant Images
Contrary to popular belief, generic images, A.K.A stock photos, aren’t the best way to go in 2019. Audiences have grown tired of viewing these bland, cheesy pics, typically preferring to see something a little more customized and realistic instead.
The issue, of course, is in finding such an image. Without access to an expensive news photography archive such as Getty, it can be nigh on impossible to get relevant pics of current events. In the same vein, you’ll find it difficult to secure good pics of an obscure destination without access to a large photo archive such as Shutterstock.
An alternative approach is to check out more extensive amateur photo sharing sites such as Flickr. The images may not be the best, but at least they’ll be relevant.
Embedding pics off Instagram is another possibility, although these do not affect SERPs.
Finally, if you’re talking about an issue which involves data or numbers, then you should consider including a graph. Audiences love being able to visualize statistics.
Finding Attractive Pics
What makes a photo appeal to the eye?
Well, I could spend hours harping on, but that isn’t the focus of today’s article. Instead, let’s go over a few basics.
- Brightness: avoid dark, dull, or washed out photos. Brighter and more vibrant is generally better (to an extent).
- Framing: is the subject well-positioned in the frame? Heads or other important features mustn’t be cut off.
- Focus: Is the subject in focus? The photo should never be blurry unless used for artistic effect.
Basically, look for a pic that appears to have been taken by a professional photographer with high-quality gear rather than just some dude with a phone. The best photos are usually licensed, although there are some fantastic free photo websites which we’ll discuss below.
Optimizing Your Photos
Insisting on using high-quality pictures is all well and good, but it won’t do much to boost your SEO. You need to ensure all your photos are optimized as well.
Picture SEO begins with the file name, so be sure to name it something that is relevant, and that includes your primary keywords.
Say you are writing an article about the best travel destinations in Europe. A solid file name for a pic of the Eifel Tower would be best-destinations-europe-paris.jpg.
The Alt Tag is the text that pops up when you hover your mouse over the screen. Officially, these tags provide useful information to the visually impaired user. However, Google also checks these to determine the content of the image which in turn affects SEO.
Try to be a little more descriptive on your Alt Tag. Using the same example, you could say “The Eifel Tower in Paris, France, is one of the best travel destinations in Europe.”
Studies show the average user will read captions up to 300% more often than the body of the article. Therefore, it pays to make the text fun and engaging.
It’s not strictly necessary to use keywords here, so something along the likes of “The Effiel Tower looks marvellous on a sunny afternoon” would suffice.
This is the big one. It’s imperative that your photos be as small as possible without sacrificing on image quality. After all, larger photos result in longer page load times, which consequently lower conversion rates and audience retention.
Quality Photo Websites: Where to Find High-Resolution Images
Thankfully, there are stacks of sites like Pixabay out there where you can find high-quality pictures for free. These are the best image websites on the web today:
For an extensive array of excellent free images, it’s hard to go past Pixabay. This massive online photobank has been providing thrifty users with professional quality pics and a super user-friendly interface since 2010.
These days, the site has over a million photos, videos, and vectors, making it the most prominent free media platform on the web. Each item has been manually checked by their in-house staff to ensure it complies with all relevant legal obligations and the company’s strict quality control.
You can download the picture at various resolutions after doing a capture. The latter can even be avoided by signing up for a free account.
Pixabay is particularly strong for business and marketing. It also boasts an impressive selection of landscape photography. All media is in the public domain which means no image credits are required.
Another major player is Unsplash, a funky photo sharing site with a focus on quality high-resolution pics. Some 300,000 images adorn the site, many of which are ideal for bloggers and social media influencers. Around 50,000 photographers contribute, which means new content gets added every day.
Strictly speaking, the images here are also in the public domain which means there’s no requirement to credit. However, the site owners and individual photographers would prefer you do so as a shout out to all their hard work.
Pexels is one of the bigger image sharing websites and has an excellent quality control team. Although anyone can upload pictures, the admins pick and choose only the best submissions to add to the carefully curated selection.
One reason for Pexels popularity is the website is easy to search and navigate. Images are organized into distinct themes such as hobbies, locations, and emotions. Each can be searched individually as well.
The platform is particularly popular with computer related websites because it contains loads of images which convey IT themes such as web design. There are some rather lovely space pics from NASA on there as well.
Flickr must be the best and the worst media sharing website on Earth.
It’s great because there are just so many pics to choose from, some 3 million at last count. It’s terrible because most free images come from total amateurs who have no idea how to operate a camera.
To sort out the wheat from the chaff, try filtering images by “interesting.” Flickr’s algorithms tend to be pretty good at recognizing the best pics.
Another major drawback is that most pictures aren’t free. Filter your use by “commercial use allowed” to ensure you won’t get sued. Sadly, it’s not possible to purchase copyrighted pics on Flickr. You’ll need to send the author a PM and negotiate a rate.
Finally, most freely available pics require a credit. It’s good practice to always credit everyone to avoid the chance of making a mistake.
5. Google Image Search
This isn’t a photo database, but rather a nifty way to search everything that’s out there. Much like the famous search engine, Google Image Search sorts through millions of pictures to bring you the best and most relevant options in a split second.
By default, it will display copyright pics from all over the web. However, you can easily change this by clicking “advanced image search” then “free to use or share, even commercially” under the “usage rights” drop-down menu.
Some of the results are dubious regarding royalties, so it is best to select a platform listed here.
Wikipedia is undoubtedly the most informative website on the entire internet. But did you know it’s a fantastic resource for free imagery as well?
Generally speaking, users can only upload pictures on the proviso they dedicate them to the public domain. However, exceptions can exist so always check the fine print below the pic.
Granted, image quality is often poor. Nevertheless, the sheer number of available and obscure images makes it worth a look.
After something a little more eccentric? Gratisography was built with the creative in mind to become an eclectic collection of quality pics with a quirky twist.
The website doesn’t have anywhere near as many photos as some of the other sites on this list. However, it does boast a more imaginative and artistic collection which would be ideal for a bohemian startup.
If you’ve got an e-commerce business, then you’re going to want to check this site out.
The global e-commerce platform Shopify funded Burst specifically to increase online sales, hiring professional photographers to capture images related to all sorts of popular niches.
As you may have gathered from the name, this site provides a big bunch of images absolutely free. Best of all, they’re actually pretty good.
Search by themes, tag, authors, or categories to quickly browse their collection of 400,000 or so public domain pics.
Although they can’t compete in terms of quantity with some other sites, they’re certainly worth a look when all else fails.
Food bloggers, restauranteurs, and anyone doing digital marketing for the catering industry will want to bookmark this gem. As you might expect, the site hosts a wide range of food photography, boasting Brussel sprouts to creme brulee and everything in between.
You will find food photography elsewhere, but probably not as much quality or variety as FoodiesFest.
The Best Free Online Resources
As you can see, there are a whole host of amazing websites to provide your business with high-resolution images for free. Each has distinct pros and cons so check out the above options to decide which are best for you.