Without link building, it is nearly impossible to make progress in search engine optimization.
Link building, which is the practice of developing or attracting hyperlinks from other authoritative websites, adds to SEO success in a variety of ways. Links convey trust and authority.
When one website connects to another, it is basically suggesting that the connected webpage or website is worthy of interest, traffic, or awareness or that the linked website includes more material related to the topic at hand.
As a result, search engines often regard links as citations, similar to sources in academic texts.
The phrase “link building” refers to a number of practices aimed at increasing traffic (clicks) and authority (relevance) to a website.
Popular methods for building links include fresh mention link building, guest blogging, broken link building, link reclamation, and image link building, among others.
SEO practitioners aiming to raise the overall quantity and quality of a site’s ranks ought to look at all of these options.
This blog will focus on image link building specifically. Read on below for the answers to all your questions about image link building strategies!
Table of Contents
- What Is Image Link Building?
- Why is Image Link Building Useful?
- How does Image Link Building Work?
- Preparing Your Image Library
- Image Link Building with Infographics
- Using Social Media to Share Your Images
- Using Images as Link Bait to Build Links
- Be Your Own Curator
- Use Guest Blogging As an Opportunity
Image link building is a link building approach that entails earning or requesting connections to your website from external sites which display a picture that you own.
Any picture file developed or held by a website or its webmaster is considered an owned image.
Many link builders prioritize link building tactics that predominantly use text content since the keywords they are seeking for rankings will inevitably be text.
This is why guest blogging is such a popular (and often messy) link building method.
While these text-based methods are essential and should be included in every link building effort, this mindset is also rather limited.
As you probably know, no matter whether it is a picture or text, a hyperlink transmits authority, significance, and traffic.
Fortunately, search engine crawlers are more sophisticated and clever than they were when link building first became a specialized field.
It is a mistake to dismiss potential links because they do not appear to contribute directly to a certain keyword goal.
Remember, keywords are not the only part of SEO that matters, and while a guest post can help with your target audience, popular images get transmitted across the web rapidly, bringing you quality backlinks.
With images, image link building can help you gain more high-quality links naturally as part of an organic connection.
The reason it is a good idea to incorporate picture link building in your link building methods is that photos provide a lot of possibilities.
Every website wants to improve their visual experiences, but most are unable to develop enough visual assets to keep their users engaged.
That means that they need to use pictures from elsewhere, and the embed code for those images goes straight back to the link profile of the site that originally posted them.
Remember, a picture is proverbially worth a thousand words. Do you want to write about a certain type of shoe? You obviously want to show a picture of one. Discussing your favorite breed of cat?
Again, an article would be incomplete without a photograph! There are possibilities with images regardless of your site’s focus.
In general, high-quality images are a more valuable and widely desired sort of web material than text.
If you already own or can create high-quality images for your own use on your own website, you have linkable assets that may be successfully used on other websites.
After they have been used like that, creating a link back to you, the image’s owner, is a simple additional step with significant advantages.
Using photos without permission and attribution is not only unethical, but it is also unlawful.
Allowing photographs to be used, as long as they are linked back to the creator or owner of the image via a link, will not only broaden your audience by showcasing your work but will also establish authority for your site.
Image link building is simple if you already have images that you believe to be valuable.
If not, you will need to create images before you can get started incorporating image usage into your link building campaign.
You should set up or construct a private database, library, or gallery of photos and cinemagraphs to provide to bloggers in exchange for links (through embed codes or manual link attribution for the image that they will use for their blog articles).
It is key to supply photographs that are relevant to your site’s niche in order to readily get bloggers to use the images that you will be providing to them.
You could hire photographers, buy premium photographs, or employ a graphic designer to make cinemagraphs and infographics, or you can do all of this yourself.
What matters is the end result: your goal is to fill your private gallery with unique images that you own.
After you have done this, the first step is to inventory all of the photographs that your site owns and hosts. You should do this on a regular basis.
After that, open Google Image search and perform a Google reverse image search to discover where your image appears on the web.
Begin with any major website you may be familiar with and see whether the picture connects to your site.
If it does not have a link, add that website to a list of potential other sites you could potentially contact.
Reverse image search is the best way to do this manually, but there are automatic SEO tools that can be used for automated reverse image search too.
After you have gathered all of the sites that are already using your photographs, begin compiling a list of sites that you believe would be interested in your images.
Make another list of prospects to whom you could offer alerts when you create and upload new photos or assets.
Even though your main focus for your image link building strategy should be on slowly and steadily increasing the number of individual domains that link to you, getting those domains to host more links to your site should not be overlooked as a valuable part of link building campaigns.
As this is a great way to drive more traffic to your site organically without needing to worry about social platforms or advanced keyword research.
Preparing Your Image Library
Creating your own images is important, but to maximize your returns, you are going to need to create the right images.
It is no use having a library of visual content if nobody can find it, or worse, nobody wants to use it.
That means you need to think about which images are going to be useful for other websites and prepare them appropriately so that they can be found.
In practice, this means that you want to be creating images to fit popular niches. Product photos, stock-style photography, or other similar visual content that is useful and easy to read.
They need to be high-quality images, and a good way to find inspiration here is to look at Pinterest marketing, Shutterstock related searches, and the kinds of easy-to-decipher images that are used to illustrate how-to guides.
If you are not sure how popular an image is, using metrics such as Flickr stats is a good way to check without needing advanced SEO industry tools.
Once you have worked out what is popular, create similar images.
If you can own meme-like images, that is a good start, and the wider the range of images in your library, the higher your chances of getting Pinterest marketing converts and inbound links are!
Once you have created the actual image file, it is time to make that visual content easy to find. This is where Google trends and keyword research come in useful.
You are going to want to ensure that the image’s file name is packed with the relevant keywords, as this sort of metadata is crucial for Google image search results, just like it is for blog post pages.
Use keyword-rich file names, detailed descriptions, and all of the other SEO metrics that you would use for text pages.
The image filename is the most important of these, but alt text and descriptions on the webpage matter too.
Alt text is the image description and the most important element when it comes to text featured in metadata attributes.
Providing the relevant text information for your image helps search engines better interpret and match the information with the correct users’ searches.
In Photoshop, you can produce keyword-rich alt text as well as a hyperlink to the necessary information on the web.
This system was created for visually impaired users, designed to allow screen-reading devices to explain the image to the user.
It works in a similar way for search engine bots: this text gives engine crawlers context for images that they can’t see.
The difficulty here is that you, as an image owner, have no influence over what another site owner uses as alt text on an image link.
While you can make suggestions, they are not legally binding, and webmasters or site owners may dislike feeling micromanaged.
You may try to include some information on the image and the advantages of appropriate metadata in your outreach to a site that is using one of your photos, but remember that this is merely a suggestion, and the webmaster of the other site is under no obligation to actually use your suggestions at all.
Alt text should be relevant and appropriate, but as long as it is there and adequately describes the picture, it is providing you with some level of benefit, and that is probably enough for most purposes.
You want your image to come up at the top of search engines’ image search results so that more people use it in their blog posts, guest posts, digital marketing, and social media platforms.
In many ways, visual content can be used to attract links in just the same ways that text content does.
Keyword Research and Images
The importance of keyword research in SEO cannot be overstated. You can use the research findings to guide the way you approach your photographs in order to improve your image rating.
A wonderful way to find popular subjects is to use Google Trends. Keep up with the latest news and hot topics. Use trends to your advantage by determining how certain issues relate to your brand’s specialty.
Creating popular material, regardless of whether or not it is related to your business, increases the number of shares and mentions you are likely to get for your images.
Evaluate keywords with link intent. This is a simple technique that can help guide your research. You can employ image search terms to locate prospective new link sources.
This can help you locate appropriate platforms to increase your SEO efforts. Search Google for long-tail keywords and choose images related to your field.
Look for the source of the images and try to gain links from those websites.
As always, with this type of SEO, gaining quality links is a mutual effort. Find your niche, and build links back and forth with other sites in a similar field.
Going Beyond Trends
While building images based on current popular trends is a great way to build links in the long term, the lifespan of content built around this approach will be very limited.
Eventually, those topics will stop trending, and then nobody will link to your images anymore. What you need to do is combine trending topics with evergreen images.
Evergreen visual content might not get the immediate traffic spike that trendy images of the moment and topical memes do, but it will have a much longer tail.
If only a few people link to it every week, but they keep on linking to it for years, that one piece of content has provided far more value to your site than the trendy image that everyone linked to and then forgot about.
You need to combine the two, taking advantage of large traffic spikes for the topic of the moment and long, steady growth from things like guide illustrations and stock photos.
Every website aims to have a niche. If, for example, you provide a collection of pictures of dogs on your website, people writing articles about dogs might use those to illustrate their web page.
They might. But there are so many other sites offering pictures of dogs that you will need to optimize your metadata exceptionally well in order to make much of an impact.
If you go for a smaller niche, however, you will find your images being used more often in relevant contexts.
If your images are relevant and appropriately tagged for a trickier topic, like mortgages, for example, then you will find a higher percentage of people writing in that niche will make use of your images.
It is all about striking the right balance between providing images for popular topics that people write about often (but probably will not use your images for) and for niche topics that might not have as many pieces written about them on a daily basis, but you can capture the market for relevant images much more easily.
Using infographics as a central pillar of link building strategies has been one of the most popular link and brand marketing methods in recent years, with many brands seeing increases in terms of links, brand mentions, and social shares as a result of incorporating this image optimization method into their wider link building strategy.
Though this approach to modern link building and online marketing is becoming more popular, it is still a valuable niche without as much competition as other types of visual content.
With a bit of effort on your part, infographic link building can still demonstrate its effectiveness, especially when data visualization is taken to a higher level (making it more interactive and/or ensuring that it provides accurate data in addition to its appealing design).
After you create infographics, you can post them on infographic directory sites to make them available to other users. You can also link to them on your chosen social platform to help them spread.
Infographics are a very shareable type of image, but they require a lot of effort to help them reach the critical mass of sharing they need in order to provide good links for your site.
What better method to distribute your visual material than on the most popular photo-sharing networks, Instagram and Pinterest? Pinterest has about half a billion monthly users, while Instagram has over 1.3 billion active users.
You can target clients who are likely to interact with your material on various social media networks by buying adverts.
Many companies tend to prioritize Instagram advertisements but do not overlook Pinterest! Pinterest marketing converts more effectively and more quickly since there are fewer steps from discovery to conversion.
So keep both social media platform options in mind while developing your marketing plan.
You will need to start building a strong and focused following base on Pinterest, just as you would on any other social network.
Begin by requesting that your fans from other social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Bluesky) follow you on Pinterest as well.
It is also a good idea to follow and engage with active users in your particular industry niche by simply keeping track of who pins/repins popular photos in your target categories.
Repin and connect with their entries to create relationships that will help your campaign whenever you start reaching out to them.
Typography appears to be quite popular in most Tumblr communities, as many of their active users are readily lured in by visually appealing text.
This might not seem like an obvious social network to take advantage of, but it can be extremely effective.
Using this strategy to acquire and attract more natural connections to a website is not difficult; all you need is good content and the knowledge of how and where to market it.
Begin by transforming inspiring, industry-specific, and comedic phrases into typography and publishing it on Tumblr, with a link to your website embedded in the post.
This is a great free way to post images with a high chance of going viral and creating a huge number of image links to your website.
Reddit ads are also a good way to share your images. There are two ways to use Reddit for advertising.
You can use a promoted post, which just looks like a regular Reddit post that appears in users’ feeds with a pale blue background and a “promoted” tag.
Alternatively, you can shell out for a display ad, which is a form of banner ad.
This is an expensive option, however, as Reddit banner ads have very high visibility. They tend to start at around $30k, so this is not one of the cheaper link building tools out there.
Another significant advantage of using photos as a link building tactic is that they may take many, many different forms.
Images that can readily draw links or function as link bait include locations, people, infographics, webcomics, and charts and graphs. Any piece of information meant to draw links to your website is considered link bait.
Popular charts, graphs, infographics, and other instructive pieces of material are frequently found on several websites, all with links back to the original source.
These form the majority of image-based links. If they are not image links, they are frequently accompanied by attribution in the form of a text link.
In any case, the image has given your site credibility by bringing links back to your site.
Link bait is simple to generate and may provide significant rewards both instantly and over time.
From news websites to content curators like Buzzfeed, some of the most popular websites in the world employ intriguing and instructive pieces of information culled from throughout the web.
If your image becomes popular on social networks, high-value links are likely to follow.
Be Your Own Curator
Rather than waiting for a large curator to scoop up your original images, you can act as a creator in your own right.
If you have fantastic pictures or know where to acquire captivating images in your industry niche, you can collect them all and publish them in a single blog post.
If you integrate photographs from other sources (curating them), it will be simpler to distribute the material since you will have a reason to contact the original source of the image.
By informing them that you have used their image(s) in your blog post, you are encouraging them to share your material on various social networks, which may lead to increased visibility and linkability for your post in turn.
Reciprocity like this is a great way to generate links.
Use Guest Blogging As an Opportunity
Including unique images, like screenshots, in guest articles is a significant plus for blogs where you will be submitting a guest-written post.
Instead of putting your photographs as an attachment when sending out guest articles, why not submit the full text in HTML format, with links to your images already embedded?
This ensures that you get all of the backlinks you can, boosting the value of the post to your site at the same time as providing the blog with an attractive, visually engaging page to draw in readers.
This allows you to create image-based connections to your site, which is also an excellent method for broadening the link types in your profile.
To improve the visibility of your photographs in Google’s image search, use descriptive metadata and other image attributions such as description and image filename.
All types of links to your website provide value, and image linking is a great way to ensure organic backlinks without having to worry about anchor text or poorly written artificial backlink posts.
People simply like images and like to share them, and if those images contain links back to your site, then that means your links are getting shared around the net at a spectacular pace.
This can spread much faster than text posts and often requires less manual upkeep to ensure that the links remain relevant and functional.
You can’t just post a bunch of bad photoshops and call it a day, though. You need to do your keyword research and optimize your images properly, just like you would with a text post.
Image link building is a fully functional SEO tool in your toolbox, not a quick and easy patch you can slap over your site and forget about.
Take it seriously, put the work in, and create attractive, effective images that people want to use and want to share, and that work will more than pay for itself over time as those images continue to propagate across the internet for years to come.
Scott Calland is a highly regarded content specialist with an English Degree. He has a passion for creating compelling content as a UK journalist that engages, informs, and entertains readers. With over 10 years of experience in creating news publications as a reporter, Scott has developed a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of how to craft content that resonates with audiences. Working closely with data analysts Scott’s research on topics is unrivalled for latest news updates.
Scott is also an investor in Searcharoo.