You should use AI-generated photos for your blog posts in most instances. Although stock photos are generally of better quality, AI allows you to generate a unique and specific image, plus it’s cheaper. Regarding SEO, the relevance of the photos you add matters the most.
The best and most SEO-friendly option is to use original photos in your blog posts whenever you can. They’re useful to the reader, increase engagement, and tell search engines that your blog is a reputable source.
But using original photos all the time isn’t always feasible or cost-effective, which is where stock photos, and more recently AI-generated photos, come in. So, which is the better option?
AI-generated Images vs. Stock Photos for Articles
Stock photos are a multi-billion market, and it’s set to grow even further. At a relatively small monthly or per-image price, these services allow you to select from hundreds of millions of high-quality photos for your blog. Thanks to their vastness, it’s often easy to find a good stock photo.
On the other hand, AI systems like Dall·E 2, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion are gaining traction because they’re so versatile. You can generate almost anything you can think of in seconds.
Generally speaking, stock photos look way better than even the best AI-generated images. It makes sense because most of them were shot by professional photographers, and the people in them are often professional models. One major downside of stock photo services is that they generally cost significantly more because the creators need to get paid.
Another potential downside is that using a popular stock photo is not a good look. It’s unlikely to hurt SEO, but it won’t help your blog post win the SERP either.
On the other hand, AI can generate a completely unique image by following your instructions to a tee. If you can select a highly relevant or intriguing image, then you can
It’s generally faster and cheaper, too. Just like OpenAI’s ChatGPT is revolutionizing the content writing industry, Dall·E 2 is affecting the stock photo market.
Notably, Shutterstock has already decided to work with OpenAI, whereas Getty Images opposes AI-generated content.
It’s impossible to tell who’s right in this situation, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that revolutionary technology usually wins.
One major downside of AI-generated images at the moment is that they’re in the realm of the uncanny valley. Most AI-generated faces look unrealistic or creepy at the moment.
Although you might be able to get away with some weird-looking faces in a thumbnail, it stands out when you use something like this in the middle of a blog post:
The funniest part is that I asked Dall·E 2 to generate “a natural-looking human being,” and this is the best it came up with.
However, if you want to use a very specific photo, such as a panda in a soldier uniform playing a white Stratocaster, there’s no way you can find a stock photo. You’d have to pay an artist to draw it. So, let’s see how Dall·E 2 did:
You be the judge.
Pros and Cons of Stock Photos
- Superior image quality
- Availability and variety
- Significantly cheaper than taking original photos
- Photographers and models get paid for their work
- Hundreds of websites and apps to choose from
- Real humans and objects in photos
- Typically provide little value to an article
- No flexibility or adjustments
- Price (compared to AI)
- Not good for specific photos or styles
Pros and Cons of AI-generated Images
- Can generate almost anything
- Extremely versatile and flexible
- Can do a lot of different styles
- Quick and easy to use
- You own the generated images
- Unique, never-before-seen photos
- Unrealistic or creepy-looking humans and/or objects
- Generally poor image quality
- Most images have a few errors
- Images you generate are automatically in the public domain
Is It Legal To Use AI-generated Images for a Blog?
It’s completely legal to use AI-generated images in blog posts. Although there are some ongoing copyright concerns regarding what AI uses to learn, machine-generated content is in the public domain by default. This means that anyone can use the photos for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
This is a double-edged sword because it suggests that an image you generated with the help of AI could be taken and used elsewhere. But hey, at least you didn’t spend a lot (if any) of money on generating it in the first place.
And if you want to protect the image, True Insights suggests adding your own original thoughts and ideas to the image, as it’ll automatically fall under your copyright. However, laws haven’t fully caught up with the technology yet, so it remains to be seen.
It’s worth mentioning that, according to OpenAI, you own the rights to the images you generate with Dall·E 2. So, take all of this with a grain of salt.
Both stock and AI-generated photos can add a lot of value to your blog post. If you’re just getting started, you’re better off sticking to whichever option is cheaper for your use case. If we compare free stock photos to free AI-generated images, the AI ones likely come out on top. And they get bonus points for uniqueness.
Either way, use relevant and engaging images that add value to each blog post. Don’t just stick random photos so that there’s something.
By the way, the cover photo for this article was generated by Dall·E 2. The prompt was robots taking over the stock photo industry.
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