See How Many Crappy Sites Use The Same Lame Stock Photos

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If you are anything like me, you can't help to notice after awhile that you start to see the same cheesy stock images being used across various websites you visit. You know, the ones with four or five people huddled around a conference table acting like they are really busy but have enough time to turn and pose for a picture? Yeah, those images. A common problem (well maybe not a problem, but OCD?) I have is knowing that I have seen a particular image before on another site, but not being able to recall where I have seen it before. After looking at so many sites, especially ones that rely heavily on stock imagery, they all start to look the same. Occasionally, I find it interesting to know how many other sites use the same stock image. So how do I find out answers to these burning questions?

Using Google Image Search To Find Where a Stock Photo is Used

Sure, I could try to type in different phrases related to the image and hope to get lucky with my search results showing the site I previously saw the image on or even browse through my browser history. Or I could do this:

  • Next, choose whether or not you want to input the URL location of the image in question, or if you have the image saved on your computer you can upload it to Google. Then, simply click the "search" button.

  • Behold! Pure stock image nirvana! Well, maybe not...but these results should include the site(s) in which you may have also viewed the stock image in question. Additionally, you can see just how many other sites are using this exact same or slight variation of the image. This particular search brought back over 35,000 results where this image is potentially being used.

Bonus Tip - Show Your Clients Who Else is Using the Same Images

Aside from solving my OCD of knowing I have seen an image used somewhere else, this search can also help you educate your clients of why they might want to think twice about using stock images on their new website. Yes, stock images have their place when used properly and sparingly. However, you may have clients that are set on using stock images within their website. When possible, I think it is best to use your own images of products, employees, offices, etc. when you need imagery for the website.
Sure, it might not be as easy as paying a few bucks and using the same image that thousands of others use on their websites, but it's these little things that can and do set companies apart from their competitors.
When tasked with using stock images within a client website, I would recommend pushing back a little. Aside from already educating your clients on the benefits of a custom web design and unique content (see Google Panda), cutting corners on imagery should not be an option either. Try having your client send you links to stock images they would like to use and simply perform the same search you did above and you can educate them on how this approach will not help separate them from their competitors. Similarly, you would not want to use the same content that other websites use, so why use the same images? And if you want to see an excellent way that stock videos were used, check out the video below. It's pretty genius. What are your thoughts?
  • Tim Bonner August 30, 2014

    That’s really cool Chris. I had no idea that you could find out which other sites were using the same stock images like this.

    You’re right. So many sites look the same because they use identical images. There’s no way they’ll ever get shared on Pinterest. It pays to make an image unique if you possibly can.

    • Chris Makara August 31, 2014

      Yeah, it is pretty neat to see who else is using which images. There are other things you can use this search for as well…I plan on putting something together in an upcoming blog post 🙂

  • Rahul August 19, 2016

    And I am surprised how many people don’t know such simple trick of Google image search!

    • Chris Makara August 19, 2016

      Yep, pretty easy! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment 🙂

  • John August 30, 2016

    If you’re a great designer you can take stock photos and do something interesting with them that makes them look special. That being said of course it’s better to use original pics when feasible.

    • Chris Makara August 31, 2016

      I completely agree John. You can definitely get creative with them and make them not so “stock” looking if done right. Thanks for dropping by to comment.

  • Paul Smith November 2, 2016

    This is also useful to check that your work hasn’t been stolen by someone else.
    Getty images have this software on a grand scale.

    • Chris Makara November 2, 2016

      Yep, definitely! It’s also a nice way to reverse engineer sites that a particular person has guest blogged on 🙂

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