10 Ways to Use Images for Link Building

by Jason Acidre on June 11, 2012 · 62 comments · Search, Social


Images have been a huge part of the web for the past decade, as this type of content have evidently added more value to the overall web usage through enhancing visual experience as well as in helping give more definition to information/web-based content.

The great thing about using images for marketing is that it’s one of the most efficient ways to build brand recognition and acquire natural mentions/links to a website, seeing that it can easily stimulate interest to its audience (particularly if the image is really compelling and/or visually appealing), and is very easy to disseminate.

Another advantage of implementing this approach to link building is that it allows your campaign to diversify the types of links being generated to the site, which we all know is good for building a strong link profile.

There are many types of images that can be used for web marketing, such as:

  • Photographs (conceptual, landscapes, products, etc…)
  • Drawings/illustrations
  • Infographics
  • Typography
  • Cinemagraphs
  • Memes
  • GIF (Graphic interchange format)
  • Comic strips

So how do you make use of these images to promote your business online?

Offer premium images and cinemagraphs to bloggers

I mentioned this strategy on my recent guest post on Koozai, where you can setup or create a private database/library/gallery of images and cinemagraphs that you can offer to bloggers in exchange for links (through embed codes or manual link attribution for the image that they’ll choose to use for their blog posts).

It’s best to provide images that relates to your site’s industry to easily bait bloggers to using the images that you’ll be offering to them. You can choose to hire photographers, purchase premium images or hire a graphic artist who can create cinemagraphs (you can also do this by yourself) to stock up your private gallery with interesting images.

In creating cinemagraphs, you can check out these easy-to-follow tutorials and resources:

Once you have a substantial amount of images that can be offered to industry blogs, you can start finding and making a list of bloggers in your industry that publish quality content, but lack in terms of visualization. Contact these bloggers and offer your premium images for free.

Bonus tip: Partner up with non-profit, non-government organizations and/or communities within educational institutions in your location. Hire a freelance photographer who can cover and take photos of their events. Trade those images for links as well, knowing that most of them will surely make a blog post about their events.

Reverse Image Search

Using Google’s Image Search or Tineye is also a very effective process for link building, not just to find and track your original images that may have been used by other webmasters (and haven’t provided link attribution to your site), but as well as in gaining more insights for link prospects through identifying the sites that use your competitors’ images (logos, infographics, product images, etc…).

There are three options in using these image search engines:

  • Uploading your image(s) to find possible matches
  • Entering your image(s)’ URL
  • Or using keywords on Google’s image search (like “brand + logo” or the image’s file name).

These search engines will then display a list of websites that use your or your competitors’ images. Extract the sites who have used your images that didn’t provide credits to you as the originator, and list them in an excel spreadsheet. It’ll be easier to contact and get links from these sites, since they’ve already used your image(s).

For the sites that are using your competitors’ images, you can also make a list of them. Understand why these sites have used your competitors’ images and try contacting them to offer your images as well.

Link Building with Infographics

This has been one of the most sought out link and brand marketing tactics these past few years, and many have seen spikes in terms of links, brand mentions and social shares through using this technique.

Though this approach to modern day link building and online marketing is getting more saturated by the day, it can still prove its efficiency, especially when data visualization is taken to a higher level (making it more interactive and/or making sure that it’s providing accurate data along with its impressive design).

There are many ways to get high-value links through infographics, and most are through massive content promotion before it can be able to attract more natural links and social mentions. Some methods that can be used to promote this type of content are through:

  • Manual email outreach to bloggers who might find the infographic useful to their readers
  • Social outreach to influencers on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
  • Advertising through paid discovery on Stumbleupon or Reddit’s sponsored link
  • Providing embed codes to make linking easier for bloggers

You can check out my list of viral marketing strategies, as some of the listed tactics there can help promote materials that have great potentials of going viral – and infographics is certainly one of them.

Paddy Moogan also created a list of infographic directory sites where you can promote your infographics and can be used to build more links to your site:

Bonus: Jon Cooper created a comprehensive list of resources for data visualization. You might want to check it out if you want to know more about how to create compelling and data-driven infographics.

Host images within your domain [for your guest blog posts]

Including original images in guest posts, like screenshots, is definitely a huge plus for blogs where you’ll be submitting a guest entry to. So instead of including your images as an attachment when you’re sending out guest posts, why not just submit the entire post in HTML format, where link(s) to your images are already embedded within the post.

In doing this, you’ll be able to build image-based links to your site, which is also a good way to diversify your profile’s link types. Use descriptive alt-text and other image attributions (description and image filename) to enhance your images’ visibility on Google’s image search.

Using Memes for Link Building

The great thing about using memes for brand marketing is that it’s so easy to create and have great potentials of getting viral, particularly if you have a unique concept for it and a humorous message that can easily strike through your target audience.

Takeshi Young recently published a post on SEOmoz on how to effectively use Memes to generate links and traffic to a site, which covers the conceptualization, creation and promotion process of successful memes.

A few steps in using this method to generate buzz and links to a site include:

  • Using tools like Photoshop, Meme Generator and Quick Meme to create your own meme.
  • Once you have your own meme, you can start spreading the content using social sites where your target audience would most likely be on – such as targeted Facebook Groups, Stumbleupon, Twitter, Pinterest, 9gag, Tumblr and Subreddits on Reddit.
  • Using your memes on your other external content distribution campaigns (like guest blogs, slide presentations, ebooks, etc…)

If you’ve seen improvements on traffic, links and brand mentions through this technique, you can start using Reverse Image Search (a method explained above) to find sites that have used your memes but haven’t provided a link to your site. Reach out to them for easier link acquisition.I don’t know who created this one, so in case you’re reading this, please drop me a line and I’ll certainly give you link.

Pinterest Marketing

In Pinterest’s over a year of existence, several studies have already shown how Pinterest drives more site transactions and sales than Facebook and had also proven how powerful this social photo-sharing site can be if used as a viral marketing tool.

As of the moment, it’s the best place to spread your image-based content, as it can surely bring traffic and conversions to a site (which is the main purpose of doing link building in the first place).

The types of images that usually go viral on Pinterest are:

  • Infographics
  • Compelling product images (food, fashion, travel, gadgets, etc…)
  • Instructional/How to images
  • Memes
  • Typography of inspirational/humorous quotes

Here are few tips on how to efficiently market your images on Pinterest:

  • Do a market research and know what resonates on your target audience. Check out the most pinned images in your industry/niche/category to get insights on the types and concepts of images that work best on the community you are about to engage.
  • Just like any other social network, you’ll need to start growing a strong and targeted follower base on this network. Start by getting your followers from other social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc…) to follow you as well on Pinterest. It’s also important to follow and engage active users in your niche by simply keeping track of the people who pin/repin popular images on your target categories. Repin and build interactions from their submissions, as these relationships will eventually benefit your campaign once you start reaching out to them.
  • Submit only visually appealing images, and cross promote your boards/pins through your other social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Stumbleupon), as the more you have compelling images shared the better chances of getting them repinned.
  • Use descriptive and relevant keywords for your boards and pins’ title as well as descriptions, for them to have better chances of showing up on Pinterest’s search results.
  • Do manual outreach within Pinterest’s network, especially to those who are really in to your niche. Send them a message through their Pinterest profile page, and ask if they’ll be interested to see your images (make sure that the images you’ll be presenting to them will somehow be useful, valuable and relevant to them in order to increase your outreach’s repin rate). It will be easier to multiply the repins if you focus on getting targeted users/influeners to repin your content (given that the activity will also show up on their followers’ feed).
  • Timing is very important. Experts say that the best time to submit images is from 5am – 7am and 5pm – 7pm EST, as these are the times where the site has its highest activity.
  • Use the “pin button” on pages where your effective images are hosted to constantly increase the amount of pins that your images can get.
  • Do a reverse image search (as explained above) on images that did well on your Pinterest campaign (knowing that people often use popular images without giving link attribution), and reclaim link opportunities by requesting them to link back to the original source of the image.

For more tips, you can check out SEO.com’s recent group interview about advanced techniques on Pinterest Marketing.

Typography for Tumblr Blogs

Typography seems to be really big on most communities in Tumblr (even on self-hosted Tumblr blogs), as many of their active users are easily drawn by visuals with compelling messages.

Using this technique to acquire and attract more natural links to a website is not that difficult, you’ll just need a strong content and know how/ where to promote it. Start by turning inspirational, industry-specific and humorous quotes into typography, and have it published on Tumblr (with a link to your site within the content).

Find blogs on Tumblr who’ll possibly share and reblog your work, using Tumblr’s search feature, and base your search on keywords (if you’re an SEO, you know this stuff for sure).

Make a list of relevant Tumblr blogs that you’ll find using excel. Follow and try to be in these bloggers’ radars to attract them as well in reblogging and liking your posts. You can also contact them directly if you’re in some way confident that they’re going to like what you have to offer.

The more reblogs you get, the more links you can generate to your site (if you’ve included a link to your site from the content’s body). Getting your images more exposed in this arena can lead to external usage, given that some may share it on other networks (Facebook or Google+). This will essentially result to more possible link opportunities (use the reverse image search again).

Image bookmarking and hosting sites for links

There are tons of image hosting/bookmarking sites that you can use to promote your different types of linkable and shareworthy images, and build links to your site at the same time. I’ve created an extensive list before on one of my older posts, but I’ll be happy to share them all over again here:

Content Seeding on Reddit

Blueglass published a great guide a week ago on how to make it big on Reddit, and I would just refer most of you to that post to see a more in-depth tutorial than what I’ll be writing up here. Below are some of the important points that can help to effectively market images on Reddit.

  • Study and understand what your target community/subreddit(s) normally like, vote up and criticize to gain insights on what type of image-based content should you use to be promoted on this social site (for instance, regularly checking out the Pics subreddit to see what kinds of images potentially go viral). Be part of the community’s conversations to build rapport with other active users/moderators in your target subreddit(s), before actually launching a Reddit marketing campaign. Build or join alliances if possible.
  • Value proposition is the key to success on any form of online marketing, and this one also applies here. Proving that your content/image is going to provide value to those who’ll see it on specific subreddits will enhance the chances of getting upvotes from users. If you’ve managed to build your credibility within your targeted communities, doing manual outreach will be more feasible (by sending them messages through their profile pages).

Curate your or your industry’s best images (link bait)

This is very self-explanatory. If you’re providing great images or if you know where you can find compelling images in your industry, you can gather them all and publish it in a single blog post.

If you’re going to include images from different sources (curating them), then it will be easier to disseminate the content, as you’ll have a reason to contact the original source of the image. By letting them know that you’ve included their image(s) on your blog post, you’re taking them a step closer to sharing your content on various social networks, which can lead to higher visibility and linkability for the content.

There are so many ways to promote this type of curated content, and it’s a lot easier than promoting text-based content. You can utilize different marketing channels, where visualization is an important element, such as Stumbleupon, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

A few successful samples of this method are:

I would definitely want to see someone do this in the field of SEO (SEO in 100 pictures?).

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed or follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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