How to Build Links with Images


The following is part of a series of posts on image optimization. In this post we’re going to be talking about using image optimization as a link building technique.

We’re going to approach this issue backwards, but hopefully you’ll understand why when I’m done. Let’s assume that you have your own pictures and have put some best practices for image optimization in place and your images are ranking. However, instead of single pages of content, let’s say you have a gallery of your top 50 images each with their own page and the individual pages rank. Let’s say the entire purpose of this endeavor was to give away large size or high resolution pictures to anyone who wanted them in exchange for a link. You could make them use a contact form; however, I’d suggest making it self service, with a link to the file and the linking code right on the page and with some “keep it simple stupid” instructions. Will everyone do it? No. However, by making it easy, you created a low maintenance link building technique (see How I Manage WordPress Websites).

Now that I’ve hopefully proven the value of “why,” let’s get into the how. The obvious solution is to hire a professional photographer; however, I can tell you that dealing with professional photographers is a complete PIA. They are usually crazy expensive, especially if you want the copyright to the pictures. Seriously, if you want a good laugh, pick up the phone and try to negotiate a deal like that with a professional photographer.

What I’m going to suggest is finding a local pro-amateur photographer who will do it for a far lower price. The results won’t be as good, but they will be usable and a lot more affordable. Now that professional grade DSLR cameras are finding their way into consumer’s hands, it’s very likely you may know someone who can fit the bill. If you have some skill, you can often do this yourself. However, be forewarned that the higher quality your pictures, the more successful you will be at using them to build links. So it’s a trade-off between cost and link building.

As I mentioned in my stock photography post, another option is finding someone on a classified service like Craigslist. While you can save a lot in price going this route, be aware of the trade off in quality and link building potential. Sometimes quality does really matter.

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Look for cost effective ways to build a library of photos you can exchange for links.
  • Balance higher quality, highly desirable images with greater link building potential over low cost images.
  • Create single pages targeted specifically for image optimization.
  • Try to make the operation as self service as possible, with links to files and suggested linking code.
  • Update and add new images every year or as needed.

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