Google has announced it will soon make it possible for website owners to display more detailed licensing information of photographs in images that appear in Google Image searches.

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Image License is currently in the beta stage, but the company plans to make it easier for those using Google Images to find out how to pay to use images that appear in searches, as well as allow photographers to have their conditions-of-use displayed. The idea is to encourage those using images to pay for them by making it clearer that they need to pay, as well as how to pay and who owns the picture. Although the feature isn’t currently in use, Google suggests photographers should begin preparing their websites for when the feature goes live.

A diagram showing how license information may show up in Google Images once the feature goes live.

Preparation involves attaching licensing information on your website and adding information to each image displayed on the site. Google has shared a guide on how to prepare your site and images in its Image License guide.

How the licensing link will be shown in the Google Images display pane

Google says it will be able to access and display information attached to images via structured data or by IPTC photo metadata to show searchers that an image is available to use. Google will also show a link to the license conditions page on your website if you've set one up.

Structured data needs to be coded into the web page, but IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) metadata can also be attached to individual images in imaging software before they are loaded onto the Internet.

These changes are set to go live this summer, so we should expect the feature to be activated very soon.