How To Make Your Photos Licensable Through Google Images

Thad Allender

by Thad Allender

Oct 14, 2020 · 5 min read
Google Images recently released a huge update adding “licensable” badges to photos in the image gallery. For online publishers and photographers, this is a huge win to give people more information on your images license, along with the opportunity to purchase it. The trouble is, your photos won’t automatically become displayed as licensable in Google Images. You need to first implement one of two options.

To make your photos licensable, you can add your licensing page URL to your photos IPTC metadata or the structured data of your web page. Both options will apply the “Licensable” badge to your photos in Google Images and allow users to purchase the rights of an image from you.

Quick side note: Visual Society automatically adds the Licensable badge to all of your images in e-commerce galleries. Nothing special is required on your just works.

To help you better understand how to implement each of these methods, let’s dive a little deeper.

Two Way To Making Your Photos Licensable Through Google Images

1. IPTC Metadata

IPTC metadata is directly embedded into any image you export. It holds a variety of data such as your contact information, copyright info, and most importantly, the licensor and license URL information. Once you’ve established an existing web page or store front to sell your image licenses through, it can be linked into the IPTC metadata of any image. 

That way, anyone who clicks on your photo in Google Images will be redirected to your licensing page. 

Although this method works to make your images licensable through Google Images, it does have its downsides. This method will only work with images that you’ve yet to export. All of the images that are already on your site, can’t be edited with this method.

Secondly, before you go all in on editing your IPTC metadata, make sure that your publishing system doesn’t strip metadata information. To improve load times and reduce file sizes, some systems may strip the metadata from your photos. If that’s the case, the IPTC metadata method will not work for you.

How To Edit IPTC Metadata In Lightroom

If you’re still set on going forward with this option, you need to edit your image metadata. Luckily, most professional photo editing software allows you to do this. Without having to do any complicated back end work, you can edit the IPTC metadata in minutes. After all, we’re photographers, not web designers!

Here’s how you can do it in Lightroom CC:

  1. Under the “Library” module, select your image(s) and look to the toolbar on the right side of your screen. Within these options, click on the tab called “Metadata”.
  2. Change the Metadata Type from “Default” to “IPTC”.
  3. To start, fill out the “Contact” section to include your name, phone number, and other relevant contact information. At the very least, include your name or company in the “Creator” option.
  4. Scroll down to the “Status” section and change the “Credit Line” to your personal or business name.
  5. Next, in the “Copyright” section, change the “Copyright Status” to Copyright then add “© [Current Year] [Your Name], All Rights Reserved” in the “Copyright” line.
  6. Fill out the “Rights Usage Terms” to read “All Rights Reserved, No Reproduction Without Prior Permission”.
  7. Now one of the most important parts is to add the “Copyright Info URL”. This should be the page that links to your image licensing information or purchasing page. Be sure to include the complete URL including https:// or http:// at the beginning. For example, your URL will look something like: Add your URL to the Copyright Info URL section of Lightroom.
  8. For the last step, go to the top of the metadata tab and change the metadata type from IPTC to “IPTC Extension”.
  9. Scroll down to the “Rights” section and click on the “ - “ icon beside “Licensor”. A drop down menu will appear where you need to fill out the name, email, and URL sections. Make sure that the URL section is linking to your website's image licensing page.

After following these steps, Google will be able to read your photos metadata and understand the licensing terms and URL. When it appears in Google Images, it will now have the “Licensable” badge over the image thumbnail. To help save yourself time in the future, be sure to save this metadata information as a preset to quickly apply to other photos.

2. Structured Data

As a photographer, structured data may not be something you’re familiar with quite yet. The easiest way to think about it is as a standardized information format to help Google understand the information on your web page. In terms of licensing, structured data tells Google all the information about your image copyright and includes the licensing URL.

The advantage to using structured data to make your photos licensable in Google Images is that it can be done to any photo on your site. Even your oldest uploads can be easily updated to include the proper structured data required. All you need is a few lines to add into the HTML section around images on your site page.

If you are using a publishing system that strips image metadata, structured data is the perfect work around. Regardless of whether or not your image has metadata, this method will still work. 

To make an image licensable with structured data, you need to add a ContentURL, License, and AquireLicensePage line to the image HTML.

For example, the image should look something like on the backend:

<script type="application/ld+json">
      "@context": "",
      "@type": "ImageObject",
      "license": "",
      "acquireLicensePage": ""

Whether you’re using Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, or any other website hosting, you’ll be able to edit your pages HTML content. And as I already mentioned, Visual Society adds the licensable badge to all of your images in e-commerce galleries with zero effort on your end.

How To Make Editing Structured Data Easier

For every photo you want to be listed with a “licensable” badge, you’ll need to repeat this same process. If you have hundreds or thousands of photos, this will end up taking a lot of time. Fortunately, Visual Society recently released an update allowing all our users to adjust their image licensing settings globally. 

Rather than having to deal with back end work and HTML, we’ve made it easier by automating the process for you. Best of all, potential buyers will be redirected directly to your checkout page when they click on your photo in Google Images. 

This feature comes included with all e-commerce galleries and is the perfect way to generate more revenue from your photography.

Why Does This Matter To Photographers?

This licensing update to Google Images is a huge win for all photographers. With millions of people browsing Google for photos every day, it's long been a place for people to steal photos. With a “Licensable” badge, Google makes it obvious that your photos are not free to use, while still providing means to acquire the image lawfully.

Besides protecting your pictures, it increases the likelihood that you’ll secure new licensing deals passively. Rather than having to promote your licensing options, anyone who sees your image on Google has direct access to buying it. With a more concise and direct way of doing business, making your photos licensable on Google Images is a no-brainer for photographers. 


Category: Product
Thad Allender

Thad Allender

Founder / CEO

Thad Allender is the founder of Visual Society. He leads a team of passionate designers and developers working to revolutionize the way photographers and artists sell online. He lives north of New York City in the Catskills.