katandmouse

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A design-build landscaper approached me to help with his SEO and PPC. His is a new business, so when I looked through his site and saw the dozens of absolutely top class, very large project, I guessed that those couldn't possibly be his project photos. So I did a reverse image search in Google, and sure enough, they are stock photos. To my shock many, many more landscaper are using them as well. I was then curious if he was posting project photos in Facebook. There were a couple but I saw stock photos there as well with his watermark! They were getting thumbs-ups and comments like "Nice work!"

I know this is an SEO forum, so why am I posting this here? I don't know that Google has thought of this, but if a local business was posting lots of photos that are not local, could they be dinged for that? My guess is no because not all photos are geotagged. But Google can tell they are stock photos, and as such, they are the opposite of trust factors. Google would be smart to add photo detection into their ranking algorithm.

On another note, I can see how this can hurt his business. From the projects I know are his, in no way do they compare to the stock photos. His customers may be expecting more than he can deliver as a result and might be disappointed. That could lead to bad reviews and any SEO efforts might fail.

Apparently, he's honest if someone asks. He told me last week that someone asked if he did the driveway in one of his pictures. He told him no and the person asked how he could trust him to do the job.

I'm curious how you look upon this practice of using stock photos and what recommendations would you give a new business owner who doesn't have photos their own? My feeling is he's wrong trying to compete with the very large design-build firms and their $100K+ landscape projects. He should work his way up. Thoughts?
 

Colan Nielsen

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In general, I think stock photos are a bad idea for both Google and the consumer. What you describe seems to be taking it to the next level where you're actually deceiving your customers with the stock photos that you choose to use. In a case like that I would flag the photos to Google so they can review them.
 

katandmouse

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In general, I think stock photos are a bad idea for both Google and the consumer. What you describe seems to be taking it to the next level where you're actually deceiving your customers with the stock photos that you choose to use. In a case like that I would flag the photos to Google so they can review them.
You're talking about in GMB, right?
 

Eoghan_MFeed

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+1 photo contest. Go get those relevant, authentic photos. They don't need to be touched up. Listing views are looking for an accurate representation of what to expect, not a sales pitch like on a website.

Stock photos are only good if it's a choice between that and no photos at all.

The business making it seem like the pictures are their work is misleading though and once someone posts a review saying their photos are FAKE, they'll get a serious knock in trust from anyone considering them and using their google listing in the research.
 
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