Do stock images affect trust?

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We have a running joke in our offices about clip art and stock photos. One image in particular continues to populate sites on the internet to such an extent that whenever it appears on a site, instant messages with links to it start flying internally. A sort of running parody of the “There’s This News Van Again” ad, which was a staple 1993 Philadelphia-area ad from Eyewitness News.

I came across his fanatical customer service smile, white blouse and professional helmet probably three years ago and have noticed him ever since. To be completely honest, the first time I saw her, I actually used some photo credits to get her rights displayed on a site I was developing for a client.

Over the years, for me, she has become a staple of haunting mistrust. To me, she projects an outdated use of graphic web design websites to show visitors that they can expect a smile and great service when they call.

This time, when I met her again, I decided it was time to delve deeper into her existence. I started manually searching with just a few industry queries (which became an interesting exercise in how quickly and easily visitors can find a sites contact page). Considering a visitor in a shopping comparison mindset only looking for quotes becomes important because you need to let your visitors know where to navigate.

This quickly became an exhaustive task and I went to Google image search and searched by image uploading a photo of my favorite friendly customer service rep and was returned with only 823 results. Really, only 823? I was haunted by a picture with this bass a result? It was really a much lower number than I had expected.

Anyway, through my research (no harassment), I was able to determine that her name was Wendy Jan. Wait, really? She even has her own Google+ Profile page. Later I realized I had been duped when I found out she had a Twitter account and his true identity was Reyes McKeish. Considering the amount of coverage she got online, I was then saddened to see how low her engagement was on the social chart.

But what does that say about your company’s trust?

Being intrigued by the “search by image” I ran a few more photos of some of our own company’s graphics, logos and the like. Luckily, I haven’t discovered anything too unusual that infringes our copyrights or puts us in unruly circumstances. But what a great and quick way to check to see your brand “image” in the SERPs.

Also, what a great tool to use to choose your stock photos not only for contact pages but also for your site assets to ensure your selection doesn’t get saturated on the internet. For me, every time I see this stock photo, I am immediately dismissed on the level of trust because it has become so recognizable in my searches. My guess is that many others have similar experiences with other stock photos.

Given the emphasis on the trust factor in SEO, I’m intrigued by the thought of Google, which has deep image recognition capabilities, devaluing a site’s trust marks due to the use of clip art and oversaturated stock images. Would Google penalize a site based on the use of photos and graphics that bring back many results on certain pages? Probably not, consider basic graphics such as VISA/MasterCard, McAfee and others.

Yet I remember a story I was told at a recent holiday party where a friend of mine told me that she had visited a website for a spa and had been drawn to the beautiful facilities in the site photos to arrive at a reception and be guided through a garment factory, as she described a sweatshop, only to arrive at a less than advertised facility.

I’ve already spent too much time on this chart to really do a full case study and research to see if it’s actually a deal breaker but I’ll keep exploring this theory. I’m happy to say that after this exam I wielded some demons and am now able to move forward with a positive outlook when I meet Wendy Jan Reyes Mc Keish in the future.

Designing a good contact page is more than just adding a contact form and displaying a smiley face, although I’ll admit that’s still good practice compared to many sites I’ve seen. have seen during my research. Consider using internal resources, staff photos and social badges as well as segmenting departments to make it easier for your visitor to connect with who they are looking for. Internet users are creatures of their own personalized behavior and always consider your own experiences when developing sites that will convert better and allow your site to be as trustworthy as possible.

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