Are you ready to build quality backlinks using images?
If you want more organic traffic and improved rankings, here’s what you should know:
Good links will boost your rankings and drive qualified organic visitors to your website, while bad links will get you penalized.
This in-depth article will help you stay off Google’s penalty radar, as you quietly grow your customer base and revenue.
As an online marketer, you’re used to building links with articles and blog posts.
But how many times have you tried to do the same with images? More often than not, you tend to ignore them.
Yes, written content plays a key role in link building, but you need to know that the competition is getting fiercer in this respect, too.
In my personal experience, building links with images is a lot easier these days, because bloggers and webmasters have become stricter when they see a link to a web page within text content.
Links are still the lifeblood of organic search rankings. Often, useful websites fail because users can’t find them in search results. How sad.
And there’s a correlation between links and rankings. According to Moz, 99.2% of all top 50 results had at least one external link pointing to the website.
The natural way to push your content pages to Google’s first page is to get trusted and relevant links to them. You’ll learn how to do just that using images.
A recent statistic shows that the domain authority and strength of external links are important factors of the search ranking algorithm.
If you’re still struggling to gain backlinks with your written content, I want to show you how to build links that will improve your search rankings using images.
We’ll be covering six effective ways. Let’s dive in:
1. Create a Useful Image Resource
Not all images are created equal.
The easiest way to start getting links to your important pages is to create a valuable image resource that people (e.g., bloggers, writers, social influencers) can use for their work.
Will people share and link to your image resource page?
Absolutely. Especially if your images are truly useful.
Recent data from Pew Research found that 48% of all Internet users have re-posted or shared a photo or video that they found online.
Need more evidence?
When Neil Patel started releasing helpful image resources (47 altogether), in the form of infographics on the KISSmetrics blog, he generated 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks in one year.
It’s no secret that content with images gets more social shares and likes. In fact, if you include useful images in your long-form content, the number of comments and inbound links will likely increase as well.
Why do people love images so much? Well, it’s human nature. A study by WebDam found that the human brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text.
As a content marketer, one of the important things that I do during topic research is to find complementary images that I can use in my article.
I link to infographics, data, statistics, illustrations, charts, icons, and other forms of visuals from credible sources – because of the value they provide.
Imagine how many quality links your content pages will earn if you spend the time to create these informative images. That’s exactly what Google wants.
It could be as simple as conducting an experiment and documenting your findings visually.
Yes, you can create vector graphics, icons, quotes, and more.
Having created your images, allow people to use them freely on their websites, but tell them to link to the source. In other words, you need to be listed as a source if they use your images.
You’ll get a lot of people linking back to your image resource.
As an example, Michael Hyatt, The New York Times Bestselling Author of The Platform, has a collection of inspirational quotes images. He allows bloggers, website owners, authors, SEOs, and the like to use them – but with attribution (a backlink).
So how do you create image resources that people can link to willingly?
Here are four simple steps:
i). First Step: Decide – This is where you choose what type of images to create. Are you going to create memes, quotes, infographics, icons, etc.? You can get ideas from Freepik.com.
Quick tip: Make sure that your image idea is evergreen and relatable. For example, if you create an infographic on the topic “start a WordPress Blog,” do you think that people will link to it six months from today?
You bet. Why? Because the idea is evergreen and relatable.
ii). Second Step: Design Your Image – You can’t build links using images if you don’t have any. After deciding on the type of image resource, it’s time to design it. If you’re not a graphic designer, you can hire a professional. But it’ll cost you money.
You could easily find professional graphic designers from Dribbble and UpWork.
Better yet, challenge yourself and use a Do-It-Yourself software, such as Canva. Canva is ideal if you don’t have basic image design skills – although you should have an idea of what you want.
When you sign up, choose one of the designs (e.g., Poster, Blog graphic), and begin:
iii). Third Step: Publish Your Image – How you publish your image will determine whether or not people will like and use it for their work.
But don’t leave the image in a vacuum. In other words, don’t just publish the image to a blank page and call it quits. Why? Because it will not signal value at all, no matter how valuable you perceive it to be.
The best approach is to publish your image with text content above the fold, or within your text content. To give you a clear picture, below, I linked to Moz’s new data on RankBrain – because of the content on that page. The image isn’t the only determining factor.
With actionable content on the same page, people will link to the web page address, not only because of the image but the content also. In turn, Google will reward you.
More importantly, you don’t want a thin content issue with your page. Any page that has only an image might be deemed thin.
You could describe the image in 200 – 500 words. You can take a clue from Neil Patel. He increases the perceived value of his graphics with written content. Take a quick look:
iv). Fourth Step: Promote the Image – Yes, you need to market your image resource. Don’t wait for people to discover you on their own. In fact, your promotion will cause people to find your website and link to it eventually.
When you contribute to other websites, use your images to support your points. This works well if the image represents data or insights in a nice chart or visual graphic.
2. Make Your Images Shareable
Images. Social media.
Both are like two Siamese Twins that can never be separated. It’s no doubt that images fare well in social media sites. However, these have to be self-explanatory images.
For one, tweets with images received 89% more favorites and 18% more clicks than those without.
HubSpot also found that Facebook photos generate more traction (104% comments and 53% likes) than the average post.
Think you know what makes people share images? It’s all about having the right image, right?
Despite what you may think you know about image sharing, when you’re looking to build quality links using images, you also need to understand the emotions that spur viral marketing.
Because there’s too much noise already. According to comScore, 5.3 trillion display ads are shown online each year, 144,000 hours of YouTube videos uploaded daily, and billions of images shared on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram every day. A common image will not cut it.
The truth is, from the get-go you need to create images that people will be willing to share. They have to appeal to them emotionally.
So when creating images that people will share, bear in mind that they don’t have to use it on their blogs or publications. Rather, you want people to share it on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and several other platforms.
But first, you need to publish the image on your website or blog, and because it’s worth sharing, you’ll drive a lot of traffic to your web pages. But there’s more…
As people share it via social media, you’ll end up generating several links to your web pages. These links may not go directly to the image resource – but any of your important pages will do.
So which emotions will nudge people to share your images?
Here’s an excerpt from a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review:
“As Thales Texeira noted, it is important to create maximal emotional excitement quickly. Hit them hard and fast with strong emotions, but remember to keep the branding to a minimum. Heavy use of branding can cause many viewers to disregard the content as spammy or salesy, resulting in loss of interest, abandonment, or even backlash.”
Specifically, you need to create images that drive emotions of surprise and anticipation segments of Plutchik’s wheel:
Let’s briefly look at them:
i). Curiosity: How many times have you shared an image, video, or piece of information, because you want to know what your friends, family members, or other people think?
I do that all the time. Remember that when people are curious, they tend to share. So if your image triggers curiosity, people will likely share it.
ii). Amazement: Create images that dazzle people. Let people exclaim: “How on earth did you put this together?” If you make them think, they’ll share.
iii). Interest: To an extent, relevancy drives interest. For example, as a blogger, I’m interested in organic traffic and building an audience. When I see an image that reflects my interest, I’ll likely share it.
Come on, how many images have I shared and linked to from within this article already? Over 10. Why?
Because I’m interested in the topics around the images.
Get to know your audience and want they want. Then create a relevant and irresistible image. Chances are, they’ll share it.
3. Use Guest Blogging to Reference Your On-Site Images
As a marketer, it’s natural to think that your image and content deserve to be shared. But you don’t have to remain there.
Blogging can be both fun and rewarding if you know what you’re doing. Don’t forget that companies that blog get 97% more inbound links.
Sure, the right timing also affects the number of shares and links that your images generate. To this end, you don’t have control over social sharing.
But if you want to get ahead quickly via image link building, improve and sustain your organic search rankings, you need control. So what’s the best solution?
Start guest blogging.
This is just a fancy way of telling you to write useful content for relevant and authority blogs in your market – and link back to your image resource page. Simple.
Although you can easily get branded links within your author bio, you need to do much more than that if you want your link profile to be trusted.
A great way to get a branded link back to your web page is to reference your image within the main body of your guest post.
As much as possible, try and include your image above the fold – and naturally link back to the exact page on your website where the image lives. Here’s a typical example:
Yes, you can get a lot of backlinks if you get serious about guest blogging. But it goes beyond that.
GrooveHQ, a Help Desk solutions company reached more than 1 million people by guest blogging.
In addition to picking up good quality backlinks, Silvio Porcellana, founder of Mobi.is.it, used guest blogging to boost his search traffic by 20%.
When guest blogging, you have to be confident. The human brain is hardwired to get you results if you dare to take action.
“It can be difficult to distinguish real confidence from confidence that comes from just standing up straight…” – Richard Petty told Fast Company last year.
When you pitch guest topics, you’ll get rejected by fellow bloggers. In fact, your best guest article may not perform well. You may get no-follow links, which can put you off-grid. But don’t give up.
If you have the opportunity to contribute articles to mainstream websites (e.g., Inc, Forbes, Entrepreneur), then grab it with both arms.
Though the links may not be 100% relevant to your web page, since these websites handle a lot of topics, Google still rewards links from trusted sites.
But again, start guest blogging from where you are. There are active blogs in your niche that need quality articles on a regular basis. And if your article is good, it can be published within seven days. It could even happen in 48 hours, too.
Don’t sound promotional within the article. Focus on delivering value and naturally link to your image resource. Ideally, you need to introduce the image before linking to it.
Better yet, if you’re writing a case study, you can capture a screenshot from Google Analytics to show traffic growth, or using any tool that you’re writing about, then link back to the specific case study page (mentioning that readers can access the full case study on that page).
4. Post Relevant Images on Third-Party Websites
All of the strategies that we’ve covered so far are effective, but you can get even better results if you post the same images that live on your website on Pinterest, Flickr, and other similar image websites.
If you’ve been writing blog posts for at least six months, then I can boldly tell you that Google has indexed a lot of your post images. You can use reverse image search to find them.
All you have to do is go to Google Image Search and enter site:yourwebsite.com as your search string. For this example, we’ll be using dodocase.com.
Next, you’ll see all of the website’s indexed images.
As an Internet marketer, you may not have full copyright on some of the images. Simply choose the ones that you control, especially the informative ones and pin to your Pinterest board.
When pinning your images, add a catchy title, description, and a link to your web page.
Flickr works well with quality photos, especially images from a conference, an event, gardening, a trip, party, etc.
All you need to host your images is a Yahoo! Account, which you can sign-up for free. There are creative commons rules that you can show people who might want to use your images.
More so, you can use reverse image search to find websites, brands, or portals that use your images without linking to you.
This is extremely powerful.
To get started, you should search with your image title, or use a common phrase to define it. As an example, HubSpot creates a lot of charts and images. One popular chart has the title, “companies that blog generate more leads.”
If I’m HubSpot’s brand manager, here’s how I would use reverse image search to find all the web pages that use our image without giving proper credit.
Go to Google Images and search for “companies that blog generate more leads.” Check the results:
I can click on any image, visit the page and see whether or not there’s a link back to HubSpot’s website. Let’s see if we can find a linking opportunity.
Surprisingly, the first web page from brentcarnduff.com used the image but didn’t link back. Now, I can contact the website owner and request for a link – after all, the image belongs to us.
Alternatively, you can use Tineye.com to conduct a reverse image search. Simply identify the page URL where you have your image and paste it into the search box.
Then hit the “enter” button on your keyboard.
Next, Tineye will scrape all the images on that URL for you. Simply click on any of the images to search for it in Google.
Pro Tip: Before you enter an image URL into Tineye, us Google Analytics to find your most popular web pages. If the most popular pages on your website have good imagery, they may have been used without attribution.
After running your reverse image search, you should be able to find linking opportunities – especially from websites that don’t link to you.
5. Start Curating Compelling Images That Encourage Backlinks
Effective content curation is one of the most powerful blogging best practices that delivers dramatic results.
Companies across all industries see the need to curate content on a regular basis. Don’t be left out.
But curating other people’s work isn’t a new trend. It’s become the norm. According to Curata’s Worldwide Annual Report Survey, only 5% of marketers surveyed never share other organization’s content, while nearly one-third share blogs, industry publications, or other resources on a daily basis.
Yes, social media is the single biggest platform for curating posts, videos, podcasts, images, and more. In fact, data from Curata revealed that 76% of marketers share curated content on social media sites.
You’re not left in the dark. You can get quality links naturally if you curate compelling images that people can link to.
By now you’re familiar with reverse image search. Use the technique to find relevant images on a topic. Then collate all of them on the same page.
This was similar to what HelpScout did when they curated 75 Customer Service Facts, Quotes & Statistics. They created some of the data charts themselves but curated the majority of the images.
So how many links does the page have? Well, let’s check it on Majestic.com.
Wow, well over 400 inbound links.
By gathering a collection of useful images, bloggers, website owners, marketers, and the like may want to check out your images and link to it.
6. Analyze Your Competitor’s Image Content
Take it from Jeff Haden, a guy who understands the real meaning of “competitor analysis.”
In his words, “While you don’t need to hire a private detective, you do need to thoroughly assess your competition on a regular basis even if you only plan to run a small business.”
Bringing it home, you need to analyze your competitor’s image content to pinpoint what they’re doing to get links, which you’ve ignored or didn’t even know existed.
For example, if I want to know where Danny Iny, founder of Mirasee.com has received some quality links from, either through guest blogging or via interviews, I’ll can go to Google and use one of many different search operator variations, such as:
- Guest post by +”Danny lny”
- Growth hacker +interview +”Danny Iny”
Let’s try the first query. Here are the organic search results:
Though these search results aren’t particularly geared at image links, this simple analysis provides an opportunity to pitch blog owners, get your content published, and gain backlinks using your images.
Also, you can find your competitor’s images and use reverse image search to find guest post link opportunities.
Let’s consider a few simple steps:
i). First Step: Find a competitor’s guest article using a search operator like, guest post by + blogger’s name.
ii). Second Step: Click some of the search results and find guest posts that include the author’s photo, usually part of their author bio. Then, copy the image URL.
iii). Third Step: Go to Google Image Search and click on the camera icon.
iv). Fourth Step: After clicking on the camera icon, a new window will open. Simply paste the author’s photo link you copied earlier. Then click on the “Search by image” button.
A new window will pop up showing you a list of guest posts that your competitor (in this case, Gregory Ciotti) has published on different websites.
To get links from these websites, first, you need to study their popular posts (and pitch topics that are similar). This will increase your chance of getting a “yes.”
Competitor analysis is essential because it helps you connect with influencers and build strong relationships with them. In turn, this acts as a stepping stone to gaining quality links and more traffic to your website.
Building quality links using images can be highly effective. Keep these six tactics in your link building arsenal:
- Create a useful image resource
- Make your images shareable
- Use guest blogging to reference your on-site images
- Post relevant images on third-party websites
- Start curating compelling images that people link to
- Analyze your competitor’s image content
Also, keep reverse image search on your mind. With it, you can easily find websites who are using your photos without attribution, and reach out to them to ask for a backlink.
What other ways do you get backlinks using images?