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The Great Getty Image Dump

35 Million Stock Images Opens and Closes Doors

Online Images, SEO and the Getty Treasure Chest



Adding Life to Your Words

Using Images Online: An Overview


Recently, Getty Images changed their image use policies, allowing anyone the free, non-commercial use of large portion of their 35 million image stockpile. For many bloggers and other content writers, this is a godsend, as searching for, finding, and purchasing images can be a huge headache. Images are essential to websites as they act as attention grabbers, psychological triggers, click bait, and SEO fodder. However, the use of free, embedded Getty images is like chugging energy drinks: it works great for a while, but your overall health suffers in the long term.

In this post, I'll explain why using Getty's free embedded image is great for testing, but bad for your website in the long run.



Emotions Drive Engagement

Use Images to Elicit Psychological Reactions


As images and CTAs both evoke emotions, testing the harmonization of image and CTA emotions is key.

When surfing the internet, we make split second decisions and reactions while never spending more than a few dozen seconds on each web page. Images are a great tool that a web curator can use to increase goal conversions and the effectiveness of CTA's (calls to action). This is what is known in the Communications field as 'priming,' or a kind of unconscious influencer for later actions. However, since the time in between seeing an image and a CTA is much shorter on a web page, the two are very strongly intertwined in terms of cause and effect. To put it simply, the great Getty photo dump has huge implications for optimization and conversion strategies.

Previously, unless you had a large budget or trove of stock photos, it would be very hard to test images because of the time and cost it took to implement and measure changes. Now, with 35 million images to choose from, a website can easily test several images in dozens of variations to find the combination with the best correlating conversion rate. Additionally, it is possible to test images against multiple other variables like engagement, conversion, social sharing, etc.

For a deeper understanding of images and psychology, Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" does a decent job of giving an overview to split second decisions. To understand the neurological and psychological mechanisms going on in the mind during those split seconds when viewing an image, Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel's book "The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind and Brain" provides a great, in-depth examination of the science of our psychological reaction to images.



Additional SEO Content

Images Can Increase Search Engine Rankings


The downside of using Getty images is that it hurts the overall SEO value of the page and it takes away a key conversion avenue, the image click.

In web conversion and optimization circles, images are often referred to as 'click-bait' because people love to click on images. Linked images increase engagement and, depending on your goals, conversions. Unfortunately, when embedding the iframe script from your free Getty image, you lose the ability to customize your clickable image link. Instead, all free Getty photos link to Getty's website, which can be a bad thing as we don't like people leaving our websites.

Additionally, you lose a great source of SEO when using Getty iframes instead of owned images. Typically, images have four main ways to increase SEO: Alt tags, the Filename, inclusion in the sitemap and their ability to include highly clickable links. When using free Getty stock photos, you lose the ability to optimize all four for increased search engine rankings.



Free Or Pay-to-Display

How Getty Treasure Chest Changes the Game


Free use of Getty images changes the website optimization game in that multiple images can be tested for effectiveness and optimization before purchase. Thus, even no budget blogs and websites can begin optimizing their image selection. In the long run, these consumers will be more likely to buy the stock photo. Getty likely released these photos for this exact purpose as well as to drive traffic to their site, they don't need the SEO link juice. Getty will also likely monetize the free images and encourage eventual image purchase by adding advertisements to embedded photos, so don't get too comfy with your free images if you don't really care about SEO (you should, but to each his/her own). Aside from those insights, I also find the logo and buttons that come with the photo embed aesthetically displeasing and distracting.

To conclude, I highly suggest using these free images to A/B test and increase conversions before an eventual purchase of the Getty image or a similar stock photo, as Getty images can get pricey. I'll leave you with a portion of Getty's Terms and Conditions to stress that the free images should only be used temporarily:


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