Finding and Using Free-to-use Images With Google Image Search

  • How Tos

Importance of images in your content can never be overemphasised. A picture is worth a thousand words and serves to capture and retain the interest of your readers. But then the question arises as to how to find free images for your website. All of us may not have the time or talent to create our own images. So you will have to find out other sources for images. In our previous article we have already shared with you various sources of free images and today we will share with you how to google search and find free images to use legally.

Google Image Search Feature

Go to Google Images and type in the search bar the pictures you want to see. Then, click the magnifying glass icon or press “Enter” key on the keyboard. You will get hundreds of results. You can share or enlarge the images too. 

Google Search Tools

Now we will share with you how to find usable images using Google search. 

  • Open Google on any browser to start the search.
  • Type the term you want to search and move to the Images section of the search. 
  • Click on the Tools to expand the menu and select the licence; creative commons or commercial use.
  • Choose any from the free-to-use images or graphics from the Google search.

Creative Commons Licenses & Commercial Licenses

Creative Commons licenses: These images are usually free to use, but require credit. They may also have limitations on how, or in what context, you can use them. For example, an image’s license might state that you can’t modify it or use it for commercial purposes.

Commercial or other licenses: These images have non-Creative Commons licenses and can be from either free sites or commercial sites that require payment.

Dangers of Using Google Images Without Permission

Using Google Images to save some time and money can land you in some pretty hot waters. Let’s check some of the consequences of using images without permission. 

Invites lawsuits

Using images without permission is equivalent to stealing, even if you don’t realize it and acknowledge it as such. When a photographer finds that you have used their images in your website without permission, they generally request its removal. If you neglect to do so, it will be followed by a Cease and Desist order. If you still don’t remove it, you will be facing lawsuits which are messy and worry-inducing. Are these hassles worth saving a few bucks or minutes?

Destroys reputation and credibility

Lawsuits do not cause only financial damages. They also destroy your reputation and credibility. It will result in a loss of profit and user-base. Also in this era of high social media usage, it is very difficult to hide the lawsuits from your users. You may tide over the financial damages easily, but it is very difficult to regain your users and reputation.

Discredits your brand and blog

People follow you and read your blogs because of your credibility. But once it comes out that you have “stolen” an image, you can bid goodbye to your credibility and readership. There is no guarantee that you will gain back them easily.  

Causes financial loss

If you commit copyright infringement, you may end up paying damages to the copyright owner. Also, lawsuits are never easy on the pocket. In short, you are losing more money than what you saved by skirting around the license. 

Best Practices for Legally Using Google Images

All the images that are displayed when you Google-search for images are not owned by Google. Therefore you should not be using the images as such in your works. Now we will share some practices you can follow while using the images to keep yourself to the right side of the law. 

It is always better to assume that all images on Google are protected by copyright so that you can take adequate steps to prevent any lawsuits. Never use an image, illustration or photograph without first researching to determine its copyright status. If an image is protected by copyright and there’s no license is attached to it, get permission before using it.

Use your own photos and images

Whenever possible, use photos and images that you have taken yourself. You own the copyright of your own photos unless you are employed and had taken it as part of your job. You should also get a model release from any persons in the photographs to avoid any privacy issues in future.

Use Creative Commons (CC) licensed Images

To be on the safe side, always use CC-licensed images but don’t forget to read the fine print of terms and conditions to check what it allows and disallows. Not all CC-licenses allow the same uses. Some may allow usage as it is while some require attribution of the copyright owner


It is not always safe to copy-paste an image from Google onto your website. You will find it less risky to link to a photo or other image. And better still, don’t embed that link but put a URL. 

Confirm who owns the copyright

Always verify that the image’s creator has the rights to permit you to use it. Sometimes they may no longer own the copyright, having assigned the rights to someone else. So ask the creator to provide a warranty or guarantee that they are the creators and still own the copyright of the image and have the right to grant you permission to use it. 


If you publish, reproduce or distribute a copyrighted image, you are doing copyright infringement and inviting trouble. So before you use a copyrighted image, get a license or permission to use it from the creator. Otherwise, you may end up paying damages to the copyright owner. So why should you invite trouble? Take the legal route and keep your peace of mind.

The WP Week Newsletter

A weekly newsletter covering updates from the WordPress ecosystem that are relevant and helpful for WordPress agencies, developers, and enthusiasts

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *