Should You Use AI Images in Your Web Content?
The rise of AI image generation tools like DALL-E, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion has opened new possibilities for businesses to create custom images that complement their website content.
There are pros and cons to consider when using AI-generated imagery, just like there are when using generative AI tools for content creation.
The Benefits of Using AI Images
Speed and Scale
The most obvious benefit of AI image generators is the ability to rapidly create a high volume of images at scale.
Whereas working with a graphic designer or stock photo service can be time-consuming and costly (despite us doing so!) AI systems can instantly generate multiple images from text prompts at little to no cost. This allows you to quickly insert images into your customer-facing content with little obstruction.
AI systems excel at creating bespoke images tailored to your specific needs. You can fine-tune your prompts to make sure the finished image matches your brand style and logo, again bearing similarities to ChatGPT and others when considering text.
Advanced AI image models have become remarkably adept at generating realistic images of people, objects and scenes that don’t exist in reality. This level of customisation and personalisation is difficult to achieve with stock photos.
Unlike stock photos, AI-generated images are unique creations that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. This gives you fully exclusive and original images to use in your content that your competitors won’t have access to, and this can help your content stand out.
Using AI images alongside relevant content, alt text and metadata on your web pages can potentially have a positive SEO impact. AI systems are trained to generate images that closely match text prompts, and naturally have deep learning capabilities to refine its accuracy over time.
So an AI image with the alt text of “woman drinking coffee in cafe” will contain semantic visual signals related to those keywords. Although Google cannot (at present) understand what’s in images without alt text, currently there’s reason to believe that including strong alt text will have the same SEO benefits whether the image is human- or AI-generated.
Considerations Before Using AI Images
The legal status of AI-generated images remains a grey area. While you own the images once generated, the underlying AI systems are inherently trained on copyrighted source images that you don’t own. It’s worth noting that large platforms like Instagram currently prohibit AI images due to these copyright questions. Therefore, you should evaluate the risks before publishing AI images widely.
While AI image quality has improved dramatically, glitches still occur occasionally. Artefacts, distorted faces, strange deformations or unintended biases can arise in generations. Therefore, as you would when using ChatGPT to generate text, be prepared to ask AI tools to generate additional versions if needed.
Relevance to Audience
AI systems currently lack human context, creativity and intent. Without proper art direction, AI images may not resonate emotionally or tell a story in a way that connects with audiences. Generic AI images could also detract from your brand identity – ironically, much like uninteresting or bland stock photos – if not closely aligned with your style and messaging.
Ethical concerns around bias and stereotyping in AI systems have arisen. Due diligence is required to avoid generating offensive or inappropriate images and to ensure responsible use of the technology.
How to Effectively Use AI Images
While the pros and cons of AI images bear similarities to those with AI-generated content and will still divide opinion, where does that leave you?
From our perspective, we’d recommend aligning your images with your surrounding text to ensure it’s consistent and relevant. By all means, use the tools available, but review them and their output closely before publishing to ensure it’s appropriate.
You may benefit by using AI as a starting point to generate ideas and concepts to use as inspiration for original images. These can then be curated by designers or photographers to refine and adjust.
Relying solely on AI image generation immediately without doing sufficient testing and experimenting isn’t recommended. However, as we know, AI is evolving fast so make sure that if you are using it, do it ethically and legally.
The Verdict: AI Images as a Complementary Content Tool
It’s clear to see that AI image generation shows immense promise as a supplementary visual asset creation tool. Thoughtfully integrating AI images alongside high-quality content can help you stand out, but relying on it exclusively does pose risks. Treat AI tools as an asset to have in your business’s repertoire, rather than a substitute for human creativity and design flair.
If you have questions about visual content best practices or would like expert assistance with creating high-converting digital marketing assets with an omnichannel content strategy, the team at Artemis would be delighted to help.
As a leading Sussex-based SEO agency, we stay on the cutting edge of leveraging technology like AI responsibly to amplify results for our clients.
Get in touch today to discuss your goals and how AI-generated imagery could complement your content marketing.