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Link building is one of the toughest SEO disciplines going. Anyone who tells you otherwise either isn’t hands-on when it comes to the actual process or is using outdated methods and link building tools that are likely to be of little or no value.
If you keep up with SEO developments, "new" link-building methods often appear. But once you dig in to these new methods, it’s common to find that:
And that’s true of link building with images. The general concepts are not new and they won’t work for everyone. Building links with images can be very rewarding and, done correctly, can help to build long-term relationships and offer real value to others.
Image link building has a higher barrier to entry than some other link-building methods and that could be one of the reasons it is less widely used. These days, with intuitive online visual editors such as Visme, even the most graphically challenged individual can create stunning visuals that are valuable assets.
If you’re not sure where to start, then we have some great ideas to get you started:
People who produce online content are usually extremely busy. Sometimes they're so busy that they don’t update their websites logo for many years or don’t have time to add graphics to their blog posts. As someone who works as a digital marketer, I’m guilty of this. When I’m getting ready to publish an article, creating custom images for it is often a step too far. If someone came along and offered me a few images (that I liked the look of) in exchange for the credit, I would bite their hand off.
You will want to build a bit of a relationship before offering to create an image for someone's website. It might seem a bit patronizing, but once you’ve got a bit of rapport, then it’s a much easier ask.
One of the easiest ways to pull this link-building maneuver off is to approach your prospect just after they've published a new blog post. See if you have an image that would work well in their post or if you can create one that would add value to their message.
You can easily search for recently published blog posts in your space using a tool like Respona and reach out to the authors via email in a matter of minutes.
For example, if they state some figures demonstrating year-over-year change, would it be possible to create an appealing graph that helps the reader to understand the message behind the numbers? If so, it would likely add value to their article.
If you spend time building a relationship, it’s highly likely that your graph will be extremely well received and credited with a link.
Part of any good blog strategy is to make articles visually appealing, and breaking blocks of text up with images is one way to do this. In reality, most people don’t have time to create custom graphics for every article they write, but you should at least make sure you are doing it for your big cornerstone content pieces.
You’ll also want to make it clear that you welcome others to use your images. This can be as simple as saying so underneath the images. You can use a plugin to make sharing your images easy but my primary recommendation would be to watermark your images, in as stylish a way as possible. Here’s a great example by CoSchedule:
Anyone who uses your neat, little graphic is likely to link to you (like we just did) and if they don’t, that’s fine. We'll discuss how to re-capture these unlinked mentions later on.
If you don’t have any interesting data in your own articles, then a good way to still add some graphics is to use other people's data and create a graphic based on that. The added bonus of this technique is that the source of the data would also likely be interested in using the graphic and crediting you for it.
This one is so simple that I'm amazed more people aren’t doing it.
It’s similar-ish to the old link-building technique of expert roundups, except you would be using pre-existing information to save time. You can actually do many variations of this technique so consider how you can best use it but below is one idea.
Let’s say something big is happening in your industry this coming year. What are industry leaders saying about it?
For example, there's GDPR, a new European data legislation that will affect how websites store users’ data. It’s a big concern for many online marketers and e-commerce websites, but what are industry leaders saying?
Simply create a visually appealing quote-style image and add your own curation of opinions below the image so that your post has enough content for google to find it, and work out what your page is about.
Do this well and you’ll have a set of timely, industry relevant interesting images that can be used time and time again.
Quotes are just one example but others include:
If you manage to create a set of images that resonate within your industry, you should consider updating them annually to reflect any new data.
It's also worth considering if they are a suitable asset for your next pro-active link-building campaign.
Guestographics have already been covered in some detail on this blog and many others, so I won’t go over it too much. It's an exceptional link-building technique that can be applied to most industries or websites.
In summary, the process of guestographics involves:
What makes this particular method so powerful is that you are not only offering a new and unique graphic for free, but you are also making someone's job easier by writing the content to accompany it.
The beauty of providing the introduction is that you can make sure you add a link back to yourself as credit. As you’ve gone to so much hard work and effort, you’ll find that nearly every website you work with will leave this link intact.
This isn’t exactly a standard link-building technique, but it can work very well and provide ongoing links with little effort.
It’s likely that you and your colleagues will attend industry events throughout the year, events that are written about online. When these events are covered on various sites, images will always be needed to accompany purely textual information.
Creating a mini-culture in your organization of taking photographs at these events and posting them up on your blog is a great way to offer value to your industry while getting you some links along the way.
When you’re posting images on your blog, make sure to clearly state the event and year so that your images can be easily found. You’ll also want to make it clear that you own the copyright to the images but that with attribution (in the form of a link), you are happy to let others use the images.
Note: If you are taking photos of particular things, buildings or people, you might not own the copyright, so check that you do before publishing them.
Depending on your exact industry, you should also experiment with sharing your images on other platforms. For example, if you’re in the travel industry, sharing your images on flickr might help the right audience discover your images. Make sure to include instructions on how to credit usage in your description.
A bonus tactic that you’ll want to use regularly if you decide to jump in to link building with images is to perform reverse image searches. People will use your images without attribution, so rather than getting annoyed, you should consider this an opportunity to link build.
If you only have a handful of images to check up on, Google images works fine. Simply drop a copy of your image onto the search page and Google will flag any site where it’s been used. Checking once a month will suffice in taking care of these.
If you have hundreds of images, then you might want to investigate a more automated option to check up on your image usage. A service such as TinEye might help with this.
As you can see from the above tactics, link building with images can be extremely flexible and should always be tailored to your specific need and industry. One of the best things about the above methods are that they offer value to your industry. You aren’t simply asking for a link without giving anything back. This not only improves your chance of getting a link, but improves your reputation within your industry.
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