Five Tips to Help Marketers and SMBs Use Stock Images and Videos to Drive Stronger SEO

 In Best Practices

1321929119, Overearth

When thinking about how to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings, the most common things that probably come to mind are keywords, content, backlinks, metadata, etc. And while all these are important to the SEO workflow, marketers and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often forget that high-quality images and videos are essential for taking full advantage of how you can get your content in front of potential customers, from web search listings to Google News, Google Discover, Image Search and more.

So why continue putting time and effort into SEO? Conductor’s State of Organic Marketing in 2022, found that 61% of B2B decision-makers start the process with a web search, while a whopping 87% of all retail shoppers do the same, vastly exceeding other channels, including Display and Social Media, proving that the time and effort you are spending on SEO is vital to connecting with new customers. The most common challenge for brands though, is to understand the actionable insights they need to improve the rankings of their websites, content, apps, products, or business listings in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

Optimizing imagery has become increasingly important over the last few years, and many search results now contain or even require imagery in order for you to rank in them.

To help SMBs and marketers boost their SEO strategies, Matthew O’Such, VP of SEO for iStock has provided five tips on how to use stock images and videos to drive stronger SEO:

  • Say Yes to Stock, Authentic, and Relevant Visuals
  • Think High-Quality and Use the Right Image Size
  • Be Descriptive
  • Use “Structured Data”
  • Keep it Data-Driven with VisualGPS Insights

1. Say Yes to Stock, Authentic, and Relevant Visuals

Portrait of cheerful mixed age range multi-ethnic women

1370858710, SouthWorks

There’s a common myth that stock photos and imagery are not good for SEO and that original imagery is needed to rank a brand’s content. I know this from the amount of iStock’s content that I see in our customer’s search results and featured modules containing those visuals, that this myth just isn’t true. However, when it comes to SEO, having imagery that helps customers identify with your brand, the content you’re creating, and its goals should be your first selection criteria as this helps your content grow its audience driving potential.

Stock imagery and video are used around the world every day and work very well to represent the content they’re paired with for Organic Search.

2. Think High-Quality and Use the Right Image Size

Photo frames on a wall in black and white

814993464, Baitong333

As of May 2022, more than 50% of searches have a group of images or carousel of images in the organic search results in Google. This number has grown by more than three times in just the last ten years.

Use a high-resolution image, one that is at least 1,200 pixels (px) wide, and an aspect ratio of 16×9, 4×3, or 1×1. When selecting images, make sure you’re not using images too big, but also not of low quality/resolution. For example, if your hero image space is only 1,200 px wide and 628 px high, do not use an image greater than that, resize or download an image which closely matches your intended use space.

Read our article about standard image sizes to learn more

3. Be Descriptive

Red blogging concept illustration

1254418109, uniquepixel

Make sure you’re being descriptive with titles, captions, filenames, article copy and “ALT” (alternate) text around and near the image. Also make sure to use a relevant SEO page title and description, since search engines usually use this to describe the page the image is on, or the image itself if it appears in Google Image Search.

The same general best practices apply to video. Your content, the words you say within your video, and the title and description all contribute to your ranking results. YouTube automatically creates a transcript of your audio, not just for close caption features, but also understanding what the video is about.

4. Use “Structured Data”

Person using a computer for SEO analysis

1360521208, Khanchit Khirisutchalual

Add “Structured Data” in the code of the page. This data reflects the technical representation of the imagery’s meta-data, like date created, location shot, file name, if it is in part of another item on the page like a Product or Recipe, etc. For videos, the length of the video and any other “key moments” are also very valuable in that area.

5. Keep it Data-Driven with VisualGPS Insights

VisualGPS Insights trending terms

VisualGPS Insights

As you might be using Google Trends for your SEO keywords and content, be sure to have a data-driven approach to how you’re selecting your topics and images. VisualGPS Insights is an all-new interactive tool from iStock, drawing data from billions of user searches from The tool surfaces relevant, actionable insights making them accessible through easy-to-understand charts and graphics with robust data drawn from the world’s leading suppliers of visual content.

From an SEO perspective, you can explore specific keywords and phrases, and dig into user interest by industry or region for a specific time period. This will help you focus in on the exact terminology the segment is using to search for a concept. You can then see popular visuals—images, videos, illustrations—that show how that segment is visualizing that concept. The more data that you can find on the specific nuances that your targeted segment expects, the better prepared you’ll be to deliver content that’s interesting.

To help make smarter decisions about your visual content that resonates with your customers and drives stronger SEO, check out iStock’s VisualGPS Insights tool.

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