Finding photos online is easy. Finding high-QUALITY copyright-free images that you can download and use right away, not as simple. If you’ve ever been frustrated while searching for free stock images that you can readily use, but come up short, bookmark this blog post or save the links below.
Websites with Free Stock Images for Commercial Use
The first seven listings are all the sites that I have used and can vouch for. They are all bookmarked on my computer as go-to’s when I need to find free images with no copyright. Attribution is (mostly) not required for these sites but greatly appreciated if you do.
Unsplash’s tagline is “Photos for everyone” and they do have a lot to offer. The site has a great search function, but also does a good job organizing the photos by category to allow for easy browsing if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
Pixabay offers both photos and videos on their website. When downloading, you can determine the size you want to download so you don’t end up with a massive JPG file when you don’t need it. Pro-tip, sign up for the website so you can easily download, without letting the site know you’re not a robot before every download.
Pexels results are for images uploaded to their site from users. The image search results will also pull photos from Pixabay mentioned above and Flicker. The site offers both high-quality images and hi-resolution videos.
The New York Public Library has a large digital collection on its public domain. The images are great for the education industry, but some are also beneficial for commercial purposes.
Just like Wikipedia is full of information, Wikimedia is full of pictures. The majority of images do require attribution by linking to the creative commons license for the image and also include any changes that may have been made to the image.
If you are in need of icons for graphics, Iconfinder is a perfect starting point. Not all of the icons are free, but with a quick filter to your search results, you’ll only see what is free. It also gives you the ability to change the icon to whatever color you need before downloading it.
While Canva is commonly used to create social media imagery, you can also take advantage of its photo library. I have created Facebook posts through Canva using free photos from their library and then downloaded the post to use outside of social media. The image to the right is from Canva, even though it is promoting Pexels.
Here are other websites to consider checking out. I personally have not used any of the websites but will consider checking them out in the near future.
If you have any websites you love to use for free images, leave it in the comments. I would love to check them out!
How to Optimize Your Free Images to Benefit Your SEO
1. Compress Your Images
Some of the images you will download from the free image sites listed above will be extremely large files. If this is the case, be sure to resize or compress your images before uploading them. Here are a few tools to consider using to compress your images:
If you haven’t ever resized or compressed your images before uploading them to your website, consider reading our blog post, How to Quickly Find and Optimize Your Websites Images. Managing Partner Adam Henige explains how to find large images on your website then walks you through how to compress them to help improve your website speed.
2. Improve File Names
If your uploading your compressed images as IMG_35ghkf_800x500.jpg, you’re doing it wrong. Properly naming your image files will help search engines determine what the image is. Consider using appropriate keywords when naming the image files.
3. Optimize Your Alt Text
Similarly, to naming your image files, you should also optimize the alt text for your images. The alt text is a short image description. It is another way of explaining to search engines what the image is, but it is also beneficial if an image on your website is ever broken. It allows readers to determine what the image is based on the alt text. You should especially do this if you don’t follow the tip above.
4. Include Images in Your Sitemap
If your images provide value, they should be included in your sitemap. This is especially crucial for product images. When your sitemap is crawled, the image will be noticed, showing the importance to search engines.