Google now displays a "licensable" badge in image search results for photos that can be purchased for legal use on other websites.

"… with a seemingly infinite number of images online, it is not always easy to find the right image and know how to use that image responsibly.

After working closely with image creators, image providers and associations for digital content, we are introducing various new functions in Google Images to meet this need. "

Google shows

After selecting an image with a "licensable" ID, Google displays a link to the image's license details.

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Google also displays a link through which the image can be purchased / licensed, provided the provider has published this information.

Google's ability to display image license details depends entirely on whether the publisher provides the information using structured data markup.

This change is being made to encourage responsible image management on the web, says Google:

"We believe this is a step in helping people better understand the type of content they are viewing on Google Images and how to use it responsibly."

Structured data markup for image licensing

Google announced that there was beta testing information about image licensing in search results back in February – a full 6 months before the official launch.

The update was announced well in advance to give website owners time to prepare their content by tagging it with the required structured data.

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For images to display license information in search results, the site that the image is published to must use structured data for the image license.

Website owners can add the required markup with either structured data or IPTC photo metadata.

For more instructions and exact code snippets, see the official Google developer document.

Metadata should be added to every licensable image on a site.

Website owners can use the Google Search Console and the Rich Results tool to verify that the markup has been implemented correctly.

Support for structured data testing for image licenses was added to both tools in late July.

We're excited to announce support for structured image licensing data in the search console in addition to the Rich Results test tool. Further information on the image license can be found at https://t.co/aqMap8bEby and the Search Console report at https://t.co/8pVYPCW6Oy pic.twitter.com/rJ8Huh33Kp

– Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) July 30, 2020

How to find licensable images

When you search for licensable images in search results, Google makes it easy to find those images.

You can now filter image search results to only include images with license information.

You can select either images with a Creative Commons license, or images with a commercial or other license.

The new search filter can be found in the Google Images Usage Rights drop-down menu.

See an example below:

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Connected: Google will remove the options marked for reuse from the image search tools

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No impact on search rankings

Using structured data for image licenses is completely optional.

The decision to use it or not to use it will not affect search rankings.

Google's John Mueller assured website owners back in February:

No, this is not about SEO / ranking. See the linked developer documentation for more information.

– 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) February 20, 2020

Google's Danny Sullivan also commented on this in February, saying the markup was only intended for website owners to highlight licensing information. There is nothing more than that.

It's about website owners highlighting license information.

– Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 20, 2020

So this is something special to add if you want, or ignore if it doesn't apply or you have more important SEO work to do.

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Source: Google

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