Still Using Google Images for Your Blog Posts? Stop It! by @ShelleyWebbCSO

by Shelley Webb | Featured Contributor

stop sign editStill Using Google Images for Your Blog Posts? Stop It!

Stop it!  I have seen too many people served with unexpected “bills” and/or lawsuits for using images that held copyrights.  Many folks assume that the images found in Google Images are there for the picking, but that is very untrue.

About 90% of these images hold copyrights and companies such as Getty Images are monitoring the web daily to find out who is using their images without permission.  Even giving attribution for the image does not mean that you have permission to use it.

Additionally, sharing images on Facebook could get you and future “sharers” into trouble, as well.

So what’s a blogger to do?  Where can affordable images be found that are available for use on blogs and other business materials?

One of the best ways is to use  your OWN images.  The development of smart phone cameras and the introduction of Instagram and many of the Instagram-related text-to-pic apps make this really easy.  Plus you’ll get the added benefit of crediting yourself as the photographer.

Some great apps for creating text images are Tweegram, Instaword, Instawords, Phonto, Instaquote, Expressgram and VintaFrame (for creating collages of images).

There are also several royalty-free sites on which to find images.  Some are free to use; others aren’t.   Some of my favorites are and, and and (all of which have reasonably priced subscription plans). iStock photos are also of very good quality but a little more pricey.

Be sure to read the user agreement on each photo that you choose, because there are varying degrees of allowance for many of them.

You can also add text to the images you find on royalty-free sites by using and  These are just two examples.

By adding the name of your website to an image, and pinning it from  your website to one of your Pinterest boards, you have an instant advertisement and when it is repinned, the name of your website is front and center for all to see.  HINT: when adding an image to your blog post, populate the “alt tag” portion with the words that you’d like to have populated when someone pins the image to Pinterest.  The pinner might change it… but they might not.

Hopefully I have given you enough resources to use in order to keep you from being tempted to ever use a Google image again.

If you have any favorite image editing sites or apps, I’d love to hear about them.


Shelley Webb - Social Influence Expert

Shelley_82headshot 300300ishShelley Webb is founder of On The Webb Social Media, an agency devoted to teaching professionals how to position themselves as an expert in their field using the power of social media.

Having worked as a registered nurse for over 30 years, Shelley suddenly found herself as the soul caregiver to her father who suffered from dementia. She began writing a blog in order to support other caregivers and just by using the power of social media, rose from a simple nurse to an award winning blog owner, “social media rockstar”, sought after speaker and expert writer for Dr. Oz.

People began asking her if she had a publicity agent. Her response: “social media is my publicity agent”. Soon, requests for social media assistance came flooding in and so in January of 2012, Shelley founded On The Webb Social Media Services.

Born in Canada, raised in southern California, she currently resides in a small town in northern Idaho with 2 dogs, 2 tortoises and about 35 chickens.

On The Webb Social Media blog
The Intentional Caregiver blog
Twitter: @ShelleyWebbCSO and @ShelleyWebbRN
Facebook: OnTheWebbSocialMedia and TheIntentionalCaregiver
Google+: ShelleyWebb
Pinterest: OnTheWebbSocialMedia

26 Responses to Still Using Google Images for Your Blog Posts? Stop It! by @ShelleyWebbCSO
  1. Robert Ryan
    August 16, 2013 | 4:56 pm

    Wow, haven’t heard of anyone in this neck of the woods (Ireland) being served with fines yet but I can see it happening someday. Great list of resources for getting copyright free images..but, I agree with you – with the proliferation of smart phones with high quality cameras we can now create our own images..All the best, Rob

    • Shelley Webb
      August 17, 2013 | 2:11 pm

      Thanks, Rob.

      Cameras today can make almost anyone look like a professional photographer.

      ~ Shelley

  2. Nicholas Fearn
    August 16, 2013 | 6:13 pm

    This is a great article! I’m a tech blogger myself, and I often use either my own images or press images… I like to be extra careful!

    • Shelley Webb
      August 17, 2013 | 2:15 pm

      I think that most people are just unaware. We all have felt that what’s on the internet is free for our use.

      Thanks so much.

  3. Marie Leslie
    August 17, 2013 | 7:21 am

    This is definitely one of my hot-button issues. I do know of quite a few bloggers and site owners who have gotten into legal trouble this way. I use about 95% of my own images (it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been a photographer for 30 years and been building up my own stock library) and the rest come various legal sources. Always do your homework before assuming it’s ok to use a photo–and give credit when it’s asked for.

    • Shelley Webb
      August 17, 2013 | 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Marie!

      Great that you’re building up a library. Soon we’ll be subscribing to use YOUR photos too. :)


  4. Ray Andrews
    August 17, 2013 | 7:49 am

    It’s not the search engine, it’s the searcher. Too many people search for an image with their needs as the primary criteria, when what must come first is the permission (copyright) to use the image.

    Google, Flickr, and even Facebook can be excellent sources of imagery IF you take the time to make sure you can use the image legally

    Search for images that are licensed ‘Public Domain’ or ‘Creative Commons’

    Learn to use EXIF data on an image, which brings out licensing and contact information stored in image files, many websites provide the data, and there are many excellent browser plugins as well.

    Document the link you downloaded an image from, the date and time you downloaded it, and the steps you took to ensure it was freely available,

    Most importantly, learn at least the basics of copyright law,

    This means that it may take 10 minutes instead of 2 to find an image. It also means the difference between a *free* image and paying $750 – $150,000 statutory copy infringement damages & legal fees

    • Shelley Webb
      August 17, 2013 | 2:23 pm

      Thank you, Art, for taking the give to give us even more information on using images correctly.

      I notice that the Yahoo Weather app uses various Flickr images for each local area. (It’s a lovely app, btw and I continue to attempt to have one of my photos featured.)

      I must admit that I don’t know much about EXIF data, but you can bet that I’ll be studying up on it.

      Thanks again.

  5. Danny Brown
    August 17, 2013 | 8:27 am

    My favourite resource is Flickr Creative Commons – lots of various licenses, and great way to showcase amateur photographers at the same time:

  6. Ray Andrews
    August 17, 2013 | 9:21 am

    If you’re just looking for images to look at, Google Images is fine. If you’re using Google to find images for a purpose, you should be using the Google Advanced Image Search

    (be sure to select the usage rights)

  7. Shelley Webb
    August 17, 2013 | 2:23 pm

    Very true. But sometimes, even then, you can run into complications.

  8. Reginald
    August 18, 2013 | 6:22 am

    Hi Shelley,

    Thanks for sharing this. Okay your title really attracts me and you really got the facts right.

    For me, I try my best NOT to use those images but if I have to, always give credit to them :)

  9. Linda Aksomitis
    August 18, 2013 | 5:24 pm

    You can use Google images to locate images licensed freely for reuse with Creative Commons licenses by using the Advanced search features. Here are step-by-step instructions:

  10. Shelley Webb
    August 18, 2013 | 6:34 pm

    It’s good to give credit, BUT… if you’re using an image that was originally sold, that would be like stealing a pair of running shoes and then telling everyone from where you stole them.

    Unlike most informative text on the internet, images are not the same. They may be an actual product.

  11. Corina Ramos
    August 19, 2013 | 7:10 am

    Hi Shelley,

    I found your post in my Triberr stream. :)

    I’ve never used Google images and after reading this I never intend to. I had been reading posts about images and how bloggers are getting into trouble…scary.

    I’ve been using dreamstime but I’ll definitely take a look at the sites you mentioned. I know it’s better to use our own photos but I’m not good at taking pictures. I guess now would be a good time to start, right? :)

    Great post! Nice to meet you Shelley, have a great new week.

    • Shelley Webb
      August 21, 2013 | 6:01 pm

      Hi Corina,

      Nice to meet you too and thank you.

      Dreamstime is great as the paid counterpart to Morguefile. I see more image sites popping up daily so there are lots to choose from without having to worry about copyright infringement.

      ~ Shelley

  12. Peace From Trees
    August 21, 2013 | 2:02 pm

    I’ve posted more than 10 thousand images from Google image search on dozens of websites without a single incident! Perhaps because the websites I’ve done this on are non-commercial activist oriented websites? I especially prefer to use pics that people go to extra lengths to protect by disabling right click, etc. To me copyright protection for pics is an unlawful claim against my fair use rights. I’ve learned from ten thousand postings of “unauthorized” pics that the issue is not that people are able to monitor or control their pics once on the internet, but that a buncha copyright trolls target people who are financially vulnerable to threats & not smart enough to understand safe harbor protection under DMCA. Most infringement claims/bills are bogus/won’t hold up in court if you immediately remove the offending pic and can show no money was made from that pic. Lastly, don’t take this knowledge too far and become troll bait! For example when I used to write for a popular web tech site my posts would sometimes get more than 50k in views in the first week and you can be sure I used google images filters for images that were ok for commercial reuse… I sure wish posts like this mentioned some of this info. I’m really sick of people feeding unfair image use hysteria!

  13. Shelley Webb
    August 21, 2013 | 6:17 pm

    Well… where do I begin?

    Your preference for using images that “people go to extra lengths to protect” says a lot so I don’t think I need to comment on that.

    I’m not sure why you think that other folks’ artwork (and photography is a form of art) is there for you to use without permission. It’s not an unlawful claim against your fair use rights. In many cases, these images are products.

    For instance, if a photographer on Etsy spent many hours capturing images and had them examples of their work for sale on his/her Etsy site, why do you feel entitled to use the image? That image is a product belonging to the artist.

    And while some infringement claims may not stand up in court, most bloggers do not have the funds lying around to even hire a defense attorney to give an opinion, let alone go to court to fight it. And so they pay the bill.

    Therefore, it’s best not to take the risk because unlike you, we are not all activists.

  14. Femme Ménage
    August 22, 2013 | 9:41 am

    Thank you Shelley, I use Google image for my blog. I will try your links.

    • Shelley Webb
      August 22, 2013 | 5:10 pm

      Great! Please let me know if you like them, Femme.

  15. Marcia R.
    August 22, 2013 | 4:27 pm

    Thanks for the great article about images. I’ve had some of my original art pieces “lifted” and it is really unpleasant. There’s also Ribbet which is a great photo editor – online and free! There are a lot of add-ons that can take a smartphone pic and make it look great – thanks again

    • Shelley Webb
      August 22, 2013 | 5:11 pm

      Thanks, Marcia.

      Oh yes, I forgot about Ribbit. It’s easy to use, as well. Thank you for mentioning it.

  16. Katie Simmons
    August 22, 2013 | 7:28 pm

    Hi Shelley,

    Thanks for the great post! I love the suggestion of using royalty-free images with your website url on Pinterest. That’s definitely something I can implement in my marketing.

  17. Michelle
    August 24, 2013 | 11:02 am

    Great info! I don’t think I have ever used an image from Google on my blog…if I’m not using my own photos, I buy stock photos. I’m glad to have some free sites to reference though as well. Thank you!!

  18. […] In an article in August of 2013, I talked about the importance of NOT using Google Images to find images for your blog posts, social media posts and mailings. In it, I mentioned that unless you use their advanced feature and search for creative commons licensed images, you can easily get yourself into trouble.  You can find out more about that here. […]

  19. 365woman
    January 22, 2014 | 7:24 am

    This has been helpful! It’s better to be safe than sorry!

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