10 Ways to Use Images for Link Building

by Jason Acidre on June 11, 2012 · 60 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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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Anton Stetner June 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I had a real Aha and duh moment when I read the part about search for your own images and then asking them for a link back. A freaking fabulous idea. Because we are really starting to ramp up our local image seo search so this will help.

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Louie Sison@Make Money Online Philippines March 20, 2013 at 12:00 am

I agree with you Aton. This strategy perfectly works with local online business. Will try to use it on my local directory site.

Thanks Jason!

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Jason Nelson June 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Awesome work on this post Jason. I appreciate you putting in the time to create this great resource!

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Aasma June 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Amazing article Jason,

I never thought that we can create so many quality links using images. I heard a lot about Pinterest to generate traffic on your website through attractive images, but it’s not suitable for small business as they hardly use any nice images. But in this post you’ve mentioned some great ideas to target Pinterest successfully. I must admit that you’ve done fabulous job by writing this completely informational and unique post.

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Steve@Liberty Marketing June 12, 2012 at 12:57 am

Great post, Jason. Very helpful. It’s good to have a lot of resources in one place, including the infographic directory/site list and Jon’s new post (which I hadn’t seen until now).

Taking advantages of images is an angle I’d really like to take advantage of more in the future. I recently wrote about how photographs taken at events and conferences could be a good source of links if done properly and implemented correctly, but I’m not exactly a keen photographer. That said, if anyone works with any photographers as clients, or other ‘visual’ industries (e.g. graphic design, logo design, etc.) then this is definitely a technique worth pursuing…

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Noelle Gamblin June 12, 2012 at 2:58 am

Thanks for your article! I have used pinterest on my website and the result was awesome, it jumped from page #121 to #4 in around 2 weeks time.

The key is we must got our website pinned and repinned by many people, which is the hardest part. Most of pinterest users won’t doing repin when they aren’t like what we pinned.

I do simple thing to outsource it on fiverr and got my site pinned by 75 people, I don’t know how can he did it just search by typing pinterest on fiverr and you will find it on the TOP. Many other seller offer pinterest service on fiverr but in my experience they can’t make my website increase in SEO. I don’t know why.

As I know currently pinterest is best for SEO for 3 reasons:
1. Once our website pinned it has 3 backlinks counts.
2. Even not support anchor text (except the url link), it’s still perfect for placing our keywords in description. Google will read it!!
3. You need to ping the links of your pins to the to get your website increase in SEO.

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Thomas Klein June 12, 2012 at 5:11 am

Remarkable post Jason! Its full of patterned information and very helpful. BTW, i really like this Cinemagraph Sample on the top. Cool stuff!

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RonLeyba June 12, 2012 at 10:13 am

Wow! Thanks for this awesome link building idea share of yours.! Gotta test them out! Thanks again Jason!

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Bryant June 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I’ve experienced some success with promoting individual blog posts in image hosting/bookmarking sites (especially when the blog post involves an infographic.) I used this to rank #1 for “how much does a graphic designer make.”

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Adam Holt June 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

Jason,

As always an extremely in depth and highly useful post. I can always rely on you to provide me with step-by-step help, advice and techniques.

I have recently been working on a new client who specialises in Canvas Prints, and industry I can market heavily through Images and the tactics that you have shared above.

Thank You

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Benjamin Beck June 13, 2012 at 8:42 am

Jason,

Great resource! Have you been able to find a resource or service that bookmarks or posts your images to all of the sites you listed?

Just looking to save some time.

Salamat ulit pare!

Reply

Kaiserthesage June 14, 2012 at 6:37 am

Hey Ben,

Thanks for dropping by. As for your question, I’m not sure if a service/software/tool like that is available at the moment. I guess someone can pick that up as an idea to create something useful and profitable :)

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Samantha@SEO Company UK June 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Great, great article. Printed and Bookmarked and copy pasted into Gmail to be able to quickly find it. Thanks

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Melisa L. June 14, 2012 at 9:50 am

I enjoy infographics but never realized they could be used to build links! Thank you for this in-depth informative post!

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Infographicas June 23, 2012 at 4:25 am

Hi, great post and thanks for including Infographicas in your list of sites.
Regards,
Team Infographicas

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Brown June 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Image bookmarking is somehow new to me but after studying this post of yours, I mustered great confidence in what I have to do.

This is a perfect link building strategy for post penguin era as it does not involve anchor text directly pointing to your web site.

Thanks dude.

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Sammie Clemmons June 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Very comprehensive post about image usage for linkbuilding. Many bloggers and other site owners neglect to use images to their potential, which is such a mistake. With Pinterest, the chance of a really eye-catching image going viral is now likely, and think of all the traffic you’d miss if that picture is not properly linked.

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Dean June 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Whoa, “IT’S NOT POSSIBLE”, that’s what I thought about building links behind an image. Well, this is a great information for me. Thanks!

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Tom Treanor@Social Media for SMB June 25, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Jason,

That’s an awesome post. The infographics promotion sites alone are worth the price of admission but there’s so much more in here. Thanks!

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Ian Richardson June 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm

This article offers too many good points. I don’t even know where to start. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about this and then sharing this to us. This means a lot to me.

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Robert Antwi June 29, 2012 at 10:46 am

Jason your one guy that makes me want to drop a blog post!

You really do give away the fruits!! : )

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Bran August 2, 2012 at 6:18 am

If you can start a meme with people linking to your website that’s one way to attract a lot of links… or have it watermarked ?

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Rajnish August 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I never thought that I can also build backlink by using images thanks Jason for telling me this.

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Nica Mandigma | Virtual Assistant August 17, 2012 at 8:39 am

This is the first time I’ve heard of infographic directories! But I’m already using some sort of link building using Pinterest. I create images for a client using inspirational quotes and share it on Facebook and Pinterest. We’ve gotten great responses on FB but not on Pinterest yet. My client shares it on instagram After reading your post, I’ll see if I can share it to other image sharing sites and Tumblr as well.

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Andy D. September 12, 2012 at 2:57 am

As always, a very concise and informational post. I love the inception meme btw, that’s pretty much the face I make when people talk to me about seo techniques. lol..

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Jordan J. Caron @Mental Game Of Golf September 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Jason,

Infographics have been the rage for a while. Creating one and distributing it are an easy way to get backlinks.

The same can be said for memes and manifestos like what Holstee and ExpertEnough have done.

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payday loans@instant payday loans September 28, 2012 at 5:32 am

This post is priceless. Where can I find out more?

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Carla@Work at Home Blog September 28, 2012 at 7:50 am

Hey Jason!

I really appreciate you taking the time to share these endless possibilities for link building with images. I’ve been trying to teach myself how to create infographics for a while but decided to outsource my work instead. Creating a meme or Typography may be a little easier for me so I’m really glad that I took the time to read this post. I also like how you shared a huge list of places to share images. The only places that I thought of sharing images has been Pinterest, Flicker, and Tumblr so you truly open my mind up to some great ideas. Thanks so much

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Gilda@free site for dating March 25, 2013 at 1:09 am

One thing I’d really like to say is before acquiring more personal computer memory, check out the machine in which it can be installed. When the machine is definitely running Windows XP, for instance, the actual memory limit is 3.25GB. Adding greater than this would basically constitute just a waste. Make sure that one’s motherboard can
handle the upgrade amount, as well. Interesting blog
post.

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Ivan May 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm

This is a great resource. For me, the challenge is finding places that will post our content (mainly pictures of hot women) without making derrogatory comments about what we do. Any advice? There is so much spam out there from our competitors…

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Sarah June 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Image link building is unknown for lots of people and doesn’t use it and if you do the right things you will get the quality links.

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Spook SEO August 21, 2013 at 4:31 am

Awesome post Jason. Now that’s what I call comprehensive with tons of value.

I tend to use infographics on my guest posts and it almost always gets me approved despite being new to any niche.

Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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nurdin nurung September 17, 2013 at 8:08 am

wow, I just know it it seems I have to learn it seriously

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youcef November 1, 2013 at 7:28 am

Thanks for this awesome link building idea

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Martin November 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

This is the one of the most comprehensive articles i’ve come across that deals with using images and infographics to build links. Very well put together and thanks for sharing this.

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Dan Carter December 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Thanks for the great direction and info. Great work.

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Jordan J. Caron March 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Nice list of ways you can use images for backlinks. Infographics are great.

I’ve also found some success in using Pinterest and pinning images from websites to my Pinterest board. They’re nofollow links but they are links none the less.

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Jessy March 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Memes is one of the easiest ways to generate links. Someone with a good sense of humor can come up with a meme in just a few minutes that will go viral and can potentially give you dozens or in some cases hundreds of natural links.

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Tom Fitton March 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Hi Jason,

Given the age of this post, I’d be interested in hearing your opinion on images for link building in 2014. Are you still seeing any success with the infographic directories or have they fallen by the wayside?

What’s your recent experience of increasing rankings through a image based link building strategy?

Tom

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Alex Pavlov May 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Link building with cinemagraphs is something I never heard of before. I did not know what cinemagraph was – really cool concept. It is not only cool but I was surprised to learn that cinemagraph did not become a concept until 2011 ( if the wikipedia in not lying).

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