Attracting visitors to your website is a balancing act. On one hand, you must have great information, since that is the core of your service. The text is also the most important part of your site’s content that traditional search engines read, and thus, keywords, headings, originality, and links are so important.
On the other hand, few people are going to sit around and read pages and pages of nothing but text – you have to make the page visually appealing. That is where the importance of images comes in!
For example, I wrote a post last week about alternatives to blocking domain registration information, and one of the tips was to use your dog’s name in contact info.
I added a cute photo of a puppy from Flickr and received lots of comments and links to the post. The image made the post stick out a bit, made it more personal, and it probably led to more interest than just the content of the story. Lets be honest, it’s a cute photo!
There are some differences in the types of images that are available online, but keep in mind some images are free and others are rights protected. Understanding the differences is really important to avoid getting hit with fines or even a lawsuit.
So what images can you use and which ones are protected?
- Public Domain Images are free to use however you want. For instance, pictures taken when working for the U.S. government or any pictures that you can download from a government website are automatically public domain.
- Right Protected Images are bought for a certain length of time for a certain project. These images are usually negotiated beforehand with the photographer, and for a fee, you will have exclusive rights to the image during the arranged time period. While good for big businesses, these are not very effective for website designs.
- Royalty Free Images are also purchased, but after the one time fee, you can use the image however you like. However, other websites can also purchase the same image.
There are a variety of places where you can find good images for free. Here is a list of the most popular free photo sites:
- Flickr.com allows you to share, store, search, and sort your photos. There are always plenty of images available for you to use. Flickr is free, though you will have to register if you want to upload and edit your own images. The photographers establish the terms, so read the permissions carefully. If you use someone else’s Flickr image, it’s always in good taste to link back to its source.
- Bigfoto.com offers pictures from around the world, including America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Pacific. Each main category has subcategories, which allow you to search by theme.
- FreeDigitalPhotos.net has over 2000 free images that you can use in commercial and noncommercial work. You are not allowed to sell, redistribute, or claim these images as your own. You can browse by category or search for exactly what you need.
- FreePhotosBank.com allows users to have non-exclusive, non-transferable license to images. You can search for photos, see which photos are the most popular, and which ones have the highest ratings or the most downloads.
- FreeMediaGoo.com has a large collection of images, audio, textures, and other visual mediums that you can use for free with some restrictions. You do not even have to credit the images. The site also features some amazing digital images if you are looking for something different.
- MorgueFile.com offers stock photographs in high-resolution digital. With over 55,000 images, divided into several categories, they are sure to have something you can use. The thumbnails are small, but your search results display quickly, and the photos are of top quality.
- SXC.hu offers high quality images taken around the world by amateur photographers. If you have an interest in photography, you can even submit your own pictures. There are various searching options and over 350,000 images. The photographers establish the terms, so read the fine print, but most pictures can be reused immediately.
- Picsearch.com is another option for those who are not sure exactly what they are seeking. Picseach is a search engine that crawls the web and indexes images. However, make sure that you see the site’s licensing terms or contact the copyright holder before you download pictures. You can edit your search by animation, color, or size to find exactly what you need.
With all of the available visual resources, you can easily utilize free, stimulating photos to keep your readers entertained.
The more eye candy you can include along with your thought-provoking posts, the more likely you art to garner higher levels of interest, votes, and links.
Is there a photo site that we missed? Share it in the comments below!