A complete guide to royalty free images for websites

17 Mar 2023

Marketing Tools

Megan Boyle

Megan Boyle

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What are royalty free images for websites?

When writing SEO content for websites, images help provide a great user experience by making written content more visually appealing. However, different types of marketing departments may also need to get hold of images for ads, social media posts and other types of asset creation too. That’s why it’s important to note where images are sourced from, and whether they provide attribution to the image owner. Many images on the internet are not free to use, so if you distribute an image for commercial purposes without the creator’s permission, this can be classified as copyright infringement. Incorrectly using images that aren’t royalty free can also result in serious legal issues, and is much more hassle than it’s worth. 

With royalty free images, you don’t need to worry about giving credit for an image, which makes content creation much quicker and easier. These images come with a licence, meaning you can distribute or alter them without legal implications. Royalty free images can be purchased from sites with an affordable one-time payment, or sourced for free!

Let’s dive into why you should use royalty free images for websites, and where to source royalty free images from.

Why should you use royalty free images for websites?

There are many good reasons to use royalty free images alongside your content. In fact, we regularly make use of them as an SEO agency! Let’s dive into some of the many reasons why you should use royalty free images.

Avoid legal claims and fines

As mentioned before, incorrectly using copyrighted material can result in fines and legal action, which is an inconvenience no one wants on their plate. Protect yourself and your company by using royalty free images to avoid claims and fines for the misuse of images. As long as you don’t violate the terms of the image licence, downloading and using a royalty free image is completely risk-free. 

Save money with a royalty free licence

Using royalty free images for websites is much cheaper than paying a standard licence for an image. When you licence other types of images, you are only paying to use it for a certain period of time. This means that once this licence expires, you have to locate the original image owner to negotiate a new licence for continued use. When you pay for a royalty free image, this payment is one-time only, and gives you unlimited use of the image for as long as you wish. It’s so much simpler and cheaper to download royalty free images due to the minimal effort it takes to sort a licence too. 

Ensure image creators are compensated fairly

On top of this, royalty free images ensure that a creator is paid for their work. When copyrighted images are stolen, the copyright holder has not been paid for their IP (intellectual property). By properly attaining royalty free images, you can source images for your site in an ethical way. 

The best royalty free image sites

So, what are the best royalty free image sites on the internet? Here at TAL Agency, we regularly use royalty free images for our Content Hub and social media posts. Take a look at the best royalty free image sites that we would recommend:


Shutterstock provides millions of royalty free images for you to browse through, as well as videos and music. This site is perfect if you’re looking to use a variety of royalty free content for your website. 


Unsplash images are not just royalty free – they’re completely free to download! Although you can credit a creator if you want, there are no payments or obligations when downloading an image from Unsplash. These photos can be used commercially under the Unsplash licence, however, they can’t be sold without significant modification. 


Pexels is another royalty free image site that doesn’t require any payment. Similarly to Unsplash, all you need to do is browse and choose an image of your liking. No payment, no attribution, no fuss.


Pixabay provides over 1.5 million royalty free images and videos that are free for commercial use. Although you can leave donations for the creator, most of the content on Pixabay is completely free. Something to be wary of, however, is the sponsored images displayed on site. These images are typically sponsored by Shutterstock and require you to sign up for their payment plan. So, don’t set your sights on a sponsored image if you don’t have the budget to pay for one!


iStock is a little pricier than the other websites on this list, but it boasts an impressive number of high quality, royalty free images, videos, and audio. You’ll need to create an account in order to access their royalty free images, so this website is better suited for a business with large budgets to work with. 

Ready to enhance your social media and content marketing posts with royalty free images? Why not get the experts on the job – contact TAL Agency to discuss how we can help you.

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