7 types of stock images you must stop using today

You've probably heard it many times that visual content drives engagement (read more traffic and conversion). Just a month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content - photos and videos - saw a 65% increase in engagement. Are you sure your site's images are good enough to drive traffic?

It's high time to re-consider image use on most websites, as the standards of what's good and what's not have significantly changed since the 1990s (time when stock image sites started to gain their popularity). Images for the sake of images are not a good practice anymore.

Why do we need to care about image use?

  • First of all, image SEO and optimization is another important way to get more traffic to your site. By using unique relevant images optimized smartly, you can significantly increase the flow of traffic by getting your share from the Image search.
  • Images are critical for social media promotion. Bright and interesting pictures make us click the links and read the articles that get shared by friends and colleagues. If images were not important, Twitter wouldn't bother to launch them in the feed.
  • If you regularly publish original images under the Creative Commons license, you can also get juicy backlinks from sites and blogs who decided to use your works and give the attribution link.
  • Images are vitally important for ecommerce sites that need to showcase the products they sell. The better images, the higher conversion rates.
  • Finally, images help shape the brand of the company. Only high-quality and relevant pictures can help the website get a better online look. According to Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab 46.1% of people say a website's design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company.

Want to make your site's pictures better?

Let's start with reviewing 7 types of stock images you'd better avoid using on any terms (and next time I'll tell about getting awesome and effective images for your site)!

1. Freaky and unnatural emotions

Right, you want to emphasize how happy your customers will be after they contact you:

Or how sad if they don't:

Now let's try to remember, when was the last time you made such grimaces on your face? Bingo, normally we don't make such faces, as that's completely unnatural. So why do you think people will be touched by something that's totally unnatural and looks funny? 

Alternative: contact some of your old-time users and ask for an interview and a couple of photos. Even some amateur pictures done in the natural setting will look much better than the examples above.

2. Happy and organized corporate people everywhere

Many years ago, people thought that placing a picture of a high-tech office in NY skyscraper with the diligent team of workers makes users think the company's trusted and reliable.

Do you start you working day at the office the same way? If no, I'm going to trust you!

Also some parts of the bodies of the office workers next to the switched off devices seem to be popular.

Oh, something serious is going to happen here:

Sorry, it doesn't work anymore.  If you don't want to place the photos of your real office and people working there, then focus on something else. By the way, garage businesses and start-ups are all trendy these days, so the severe look of your "headquarters" can be quite interesting!

3. Abstract 3D figures and all other abstract things

These weird 3d figures - they are just ugly and useless and every time I see them on the website, I want to switch off image loading in the browser:



and even a LOT of lamps:

don't explain why you are creative, smart and competitive! These images are huge space-eaters on your site's pages – they don't help to convey the necessary messages to users and only distract.

4. People with laptops in weird settings

Imagine yourself half-sitting on a comfortable sunbed somewhere in Miami and sipping your favorite cocktail while working just an hour a day and making 5k every minute. That's the type of pictures often used to tell "you too can achieve this, just buy my book/course/video! Now! With 50% discount!"

Geez, this guy takes an "extreme" approach to business. I feel uncomfortable just by looking at this pic:

And this guy is super multi-tasking! He doesn't even have to look at the laptop's screen while working and surf boarding simultaneously:

Sitting on the beach with the laptop is not the sign of success, prosperity and free way of living and working. That's just another weird picture (by the way I tried to work with the laptop on the beach – it's NOT comfortable and you get distracted all the time!).

5. Quick faking of the product in the stock image

Though I'm not an advanced Photoshop user, I would manage to create something similar to this:

Hmm, looks like it's the Kenwood device the man's holding.

I'm not an expert in portable radio sets, but I would be more interested to have a closer look at the product itself, rather than a man holding it.

6. Boards. Whiteboards, greenboards, glass boards.

I don’t know what makes people believe in the power of the board, but they keep on adding images with boards eveywhere.

Like this one:

Or this one with the secret yellow line written on the glass:

To tell the truth, you don't even need the glass, a woman writing something in the air looks equally meaningless:

That's our corporate "about us" page – let's put a stock image of a friendly man in suit in front of the green board – that will help customers see how expert and trusted we are."

No. It doesn't help. Because it doesn't tell what you do, how and why your users need to care.

7. Low-resolution images

Whatever the image, please be attentive to its resolution and don’t try to save 50 cent on buying a smaller pic. That’s totally unprofessional and ruins the impression on any page.

So, no stock images at all?!

I know that many of us, SEOs, bloggers and Internet marketers physically don't have enough time to find or make unique professional photos, that's why using stock images is absolutely alright. From the types listed above you can easily understand the main sins:

  • Pictures are irrelevant and not realistic
  • Pictures are meaningless
  • Pictures are of low quality

Every time you choose a picture for your blog, corporate site or marketing campaign, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does this image look professional?
  2. Does it help better understand what I'm talking about?
  3. Would the page lose any value if I remove the image?

If the answer is yes to all the questions, you've picked the right image. Next time I'll share with you 7 ways of getting awesome images for your sites and blogs, as well as tips in increasing traffic and sales via right pictures.

Now, tell us in the comments below if you use stock photography and why you think it’s a good/bad idea!

Author: Inessa Bokhan
joined WebMeUp on a part-time basis to work on content and outreach. She covers the "7 Things" series for WebMeUp blog and manages our affiliate campaigns. Inessa also works as Chief Marketing Manager at SEOlots, search marketing consultancy for small business companies. Iness brings with her a wealth of experience (over 6 years) having worked in-house and agency-side in SEO and PPC.