A recent article derided the use of stock images for law firm websites – claiming, “Most of them are unrealistic, not very engaging and very stiff.” The author instead suggested law firms invest significant time and money to take all of their own personalized photos.
While the author’s critique may be true for a small portion of stock photos available, there are literally millions of stock photos available across hundreds of different platforms. It may take a little time spent searching to find the right selections, but there are plenty of great options at your fingertips. And realistically, what law firm has the time to take enough of their own photos for use on every page of the website?
Using stock photography can be an excellent choice for your website. Here’s why.
People Like Pretty Pictures
Let’s face it: the majority of people don’t read content anymore. Studies have shown that when images on a website are relevant, visitors spend more time looking at them than they do reading the text. If your website practice area pages or blog posts do not have photos, readers will likely spend less time on the pages.
If your law firm is engaging in best practices for content marketing and blogging at least once a week, then attempting to take your own photos would be quite an undertaking… especially if you ensure they are relevant to the blog topic. A stock image of a car accident is much easier to download than recreating or obtaining your own motor vehicle accident stock photo.
Google Likes Pretty Pictures (If They Are Optimized)
Images are helpful for search engine optimization (SEO). Since images are a type of content, they can be optimized for Google to read using alt text, image titles, and captions. These fields comprise the image metadata needed to give Google more information about the content of the page where they are located. For instance, if you include the car accident stock photo mentioned above on a practice area page about car accidents, and then include your keyword phrase in the alt text and image title of your stock photo, you’ve provided search engines with more signals that you are, in fact, a car accident lawyer and this page will have relevant information for searchers.
Stock Images Are Faster, Easier, and Cheaper
A law firm website needs imagery. Period. So where are those images going to come from? Short of hiring a photographer with an incredibly detailed shot list for all of your website pages, stock images are the answer.
While there are some free resources available, the best options include minimal costs (iStock allows the download of 10 images a month for $99, while Shutterstock provides 10 images per month for $29). These plans include the ability to immediately download and save the images, licensing them for future use.
But There is One Place You Should NEVER Use Stock Photos
Stock imagery is fantastic for most of your website, other digital properties, and print collateral for your law firm. However, you should absolutely invest the time and money to have professional headshots taken of all of the firm’s attorneys.
Individual attorney biography pages are some of the most trafficked pages on any law firm website. Including updated, high resolution, professional photos of the firm’s attorneys is important both from a visual, creative standpoint and from a client engagement standpoint. Potential clients will feel more connected and at ease if they see a photo of the attorney prior to meeting with them.
And Make Sure to Follow Your State Bar’s Advertising Rules
Some state bars have stringent advertising rules, including Texas. Two rules in particular are relevant when it comes to using stock imagery:
State Bar of Texas Advertising Rule 7.04(g) states: In advertisements in the public media, any person who portrays a lawyer whose services or whose firm’s services are being advertised…shall be one or more of the lawyers whose services are being advertised.
State Bar of Texas Advertising Rule 7.02(a)(7) states: A lawyer shall not make or sponsor a false or misleading communication about the qualifications or the services of any lawyer or firm. A communication is false or misleading if it: uses an actor or model to portray a client of the lawyer or law firm.
Essentially, this means lawyers cannot use stock images containing the faces of people as visitors might assume the people in the stock image are lawyers at your firm and/or former clients. Hands, contracts, or the back of someone’s head are all portions of a person in stock photography that don’t show the face and are thus acceptable to use for in law firm advertising and marketing.
Embrace the stock images. They help keep your readers engaged, break up your website’s content, and provide signals to Google about who you are and what you do. If your law firm is struggling with stock images or understanding its digital footprint, find out what we can do to improve your law firm website today.