Do Watermarks on Photos Affect SEO?

If you are in the digital space and want to ensure your images are being seen by the most people and get high search rankings, well, you may be wondering if watermarks will affect SEO.

The answer is a little complex, but the short answer is that it shouldn’t according to an employee from Google. However, there are a few deeper details in regard to this that can affect SEO.

We’ll be covering the inner workings of watermarks of SEO and how they can affect your rankings, especially in Google image searches. There are a few things that are important before you decide if you want to watermark or not.

Do Watermarks affect SEO

So, according to this blog post on Google Search Central, there is nothing that should affect your SEO on the baseline. However, the better and more high quality your image is, the better the odds are it places higher in rankings.

We’ve all seen watermarked photos in a Google search, even if you’ve scrolled quite a ways, they are there. The biggest thing is making sure the image is not just high-quality, but also a good photo in general. There are plenty of photos that seem good at first but the smaller details can make them unappealing to the general public.

This is where the watermarks can start affecting your rankings. A lot of people find watermarks to be bulky, ugly, and distracting from the image itself. Now, there are ways to add very light watermarks that shouldn’t make your image look cluttered, which will affect the SEO.

High-Quality Images

Now, this is a little harder to define because some people may view one thing as high-quality, while others don’t. It is important to note that there are some basics that all photos should have in them.

The biggest one is clear quality. Grainy, blurry, or pixelated photos are going to struggle to hit any sort of mark in any search image. It’s important that you have high-resolution photos with a clear subject as the focus, or a good landscape that doesn’t have any distractions.

Now, the watermark, if done right, can appear faint and mostly non-distracting. With this, you need to make sure it’s not overlayed super heavily. If you are selling something and it’s a product ad, you can use some tricks and get your brand name in the photo itself without any clutter.

Big overlayed watermarks will also look poor in thumbnails and that will tank you very quickly. Be mindful of how the watermark makes your image look before you decide to go with it or not.

Should You Watermark Photos?

This one does really boil down to you and your preferences. There are some pros and cons for each option, which we will cover and hopefully give you the insight you need in order to hit your SEO ranking.


Watermarks help deter image thieves from passing off your pictures as their own. Now, some of the savvier ones will just remove watermarks regardless, but it should prevent a lot more theft than if it had no watermark.

Watermarks can also help get your name out there. If you use a nice, clean watermark that brings elegance to your photos and attracts instead of detracts, you can drive traffic to your store or portfolio page.


The cons of using watermarks are that a lot of people do find them offputting, However, a lot of that can be attributed to heavy overlays and distracting colors. It does take a little bit of research and skill to sort of work around it. This will cost you time and potentially money.

A lot of experts in SEO would recommend not using watermarks because those photos seem to perform less than a photo without one. It’s not an exact science or anything like that, but unless you are specifically looking up stock photos, most images will not be watermarked, at least the high-ranking ones.


Using watermarks can be hit or miss for SEO rankings and it honestly comes down to what you find more important, stamping your work with your name, or hoping you will hit the top searches. Either way has its own risks and only you can decide if it’s worth it.

Researching good, elegant watermarks can be a good medium for using a watermark and also doing well in rankings. The important thing to remember is that you should make sure everything looks high-quality and does not look cluttered.