The Complete Guide to Image Link Building for Higher Rankings

Image link building is a powerful strategy for earning high-quality backlinks to your website. It utilizes visual content like infographics, videos, photos, and others. You can secure links from other authoritative websites and sites by creating and promoting these visual assets. These links can help boost your search engine rankings.

In this guide, we’ll cover how-to guides and everything you need to know to build links using visual content successfully.

What is Image Link Building?

Image link building is a broken link building and learning strategy that utilizes visual assets to secure backlinks. Instead of traditional tactics like guest posts that place text anchor links, image link building incorporates links within:

ways Image Link building incorporates links
Ways Image Link Building Incorporates Links

When other websites host or embed your images on their pages, they provide attribution links back to your site. This results in earned links and referral traffic from authoritative domains.

Image assets like photos, infographics, and videos allow natural linking opportunities that offer benefits beyond standard text links.

Why Image Links are Effective for SEO

There are several vital reasons why image links should be part of your overall link-building strategies. Because of these varied benefits, incorporating visual assets into your link-building process will significantly improve your results.

Natural Form of Linking

Links within image credits feel organic, as citing sources for any assets used is standard practice. Website visitors expect to see attribution.

Images can enhance the visual appeal of a webpage. This makes it easier and more likely for users to engage with the content. When other websites link to your content through images, it is more naturally and visually appealing than text-based links.

People are naturally drawn to visual content. Suppose your website features high-quality and relevant images. In that case, other sites will find them valuable and link to your content organically.

Images Boost Click-Through Rates

When your images appear in search engine results or social media, they can be eye-catching thumbnails. Visual content gives visitors something eye-catching to click on. Users are likelier to click on visually appealing photos, potentially leading to increased click-through rates.

Some search engines may display rich media snippets, including images, in search results. This can make your content stand out and attract more clicks.

You can Include Keywords in ALT Tags

Alt text is typically used to describe the content of an image for users who cannot see it. This is important for accessibility, ensuring that everyone, including those using screen readers, can understand the context of the image.

Alt text is also considered by search engines when indexing content. Including relevant keywords in your alt text can improve the page’s overall SEO. For a deeper dive into optimizing your images for search engines and users alike, check out our complete guide to alt text.

Unique Anchor Text Possibilities

Image links allow for diverse and creative anchor text possibilities. Traditional text links are limited to the words within the anchor text. Image file names present an opportunity for branded anchor text links, like your domain or company name.

On the other hand, images can be accompanied by various descriptive text. This diversity can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of your content by search engines.

Increased Site Referral Traffic

When other websites link to your content through images, users who click on those images will likely be directed to your site. This can increase referral traffic from diverse sources, contributing to a more robust online presence.

Images shared on social media, forums, or other platforms can attract audiences beyond traditional search engine traffic. As people share and engage with your visual content, it can lead to more visitors from various online channels.

Long-Term Benefits of Image Link Building

Image link building isn’t just about immediate gains; it’s a strategic investment in your website’s future SEO success. By creating high-quality, relevant visual content, you’re setting the stage for a hands-off approach that continues to attract backlinks over time. This method leverages the natural tendency of web content creators to seek out and share compelling images, ensuring that your visual assets work for you long after they’re published.

Creating Linkworthy Visual Assets

Your visual assets should give site visitors value, interest, or entertainment. Make sure they are eye-catching and appealing to your target audience. The first step to image link building is creating compelling visual content that sites will want to use and link to. Here are some top types of visuals that tend to attract high-quality links:


Infographics incorporating helpful and valuable stats and data go viral across social media and news sites. Create infographics on topics relevant to your industry or location. Learn more about leveraging this powerful tool in our guide on infographic link building.

Custom Photos

Unique and exclusive photos related to your niche are in demand. Provide pictures that sites won’t find elsewhere for free use.

Interactive Content

Quizzes, calculators, polls, and other interactive visual content often get embedded for links. Consider generating engaging interactive assets.

Animated GIFs

Short, animated gifs can capture attention. Adding motion to standard images makes them more enticing to publishers.


Curated videos and original footage also present opportunities for attribution links. Reach out to sites that embed videos.

The TRUST Formula for Viral Image Content

To maximize the link-building potential of your images, tap into the power of trending topics using the TRUST formula: Trending topic, Research and analysis, Unique takeaway, Simple visual, and Tactical promotion

By aligning your visual content with current interests and providing unique insights, you can create images that capture attention and encourage shares and backlinks. Whether it’s an infographic that sheds new light on a popular subject or a graph illustrating intriguing data, the key is to offer value that resonates with your audience and compels them to link back to your site.

Optimizing Your Images for Link Building

Proper optimization signals to publishers that your assets are share-worthy and link-worthy. Once you’ve created compelling visual content, proper optimization will help maximize link potential.

For those specializing in photography, understanding SEO keywords for photographers can significantly enhance your image’s visibility online.

Descriptive File Names

Use targeted keywords in your image filenames where possible. Choose file names that reflect the image content and include targeted keywords. For example, instead of “IMG_001.jpg,” use “sustainable-living-tips-infographic.jpg.”

Rich ALT Text

Incorporate relevant keywords in your image’s ALT text, providing context to search engines and improving accessibility for users with visual impairments. For example: ALT = “link building strategies and tips

Easy Embedding

Ensure your images allow for simple embedding via code snippets. Many sites want plug-and-play assets.

High-Quality Images

High-resolution images are more likely to be used and linked back to. Invest in professional photography or design to make your images appealing.

Image Sitemaps

Include your images in an XML sitemap to help search engines discover and index them more effectively.

Visual Appeal

Images should be visually engaging and high resolution. Pay for professional designers if needed.

Keyword Research for Images

By understanding the keywords and phrases your target audience uses to search for visual content, you can optimize your images to rank higher in search results. Incorporate relevant keywords into your image file names, alt text, and surrounding content to enhance their discoverability. 

Tools like Google Trends and can provide insights into the keywords you should target for your images, ensuring they reach the widest possible audience.

Finding Link Placement Opportunities

The best image links come from active and strategic outreach. It would help if you found other prominent websites interested in featuring your visual content. It has to be helpful for them. Here are the top ways to identify promising link placement opportunities:

  • Identify top blogs/sites in your space
  • Use SEO tools to see who ranks for your target keywords. Reach out to those who embed imagery.
  • Look for relevant but broken image links to replace
  • Find 404 image errors on sites through SEMrush and Pitchbox. Offer your images as replacements. 
  • Monitor competitors earning image links
  • Use Ahrefs to see what links competitors are getting with visual content. Reach out to the same publishers.

Find where your audience already frequents online and intersect that with sites that commonly use imagery. Outreach to those sites first.

Strategies for Reclaiming Links from Unauthorized Use and Improper Attributions

Despite the clear benefits of image link building, challenges such as unauthorized use and improper attributions of your images can arise. It’s crucial to monitor the web for instances where your images are used without proper credit. Tools like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and Google’s Reverse Image Search can help you identify these opportunities. 

By regularly conducting reverse image searches, you can identify websites that use your images without proper attribution. This not only protects your intellectual property but also uncovers opportunities to request backlinks from relevant sites, enhancing your site’s authority and SEO.

When you find your images on other sites, reach out with a polite request for proper attribution with a link back to your original content. This not only secures valuable backlinks but also ensures your brand is correctly associated with your visual assets.

  1. Polite Outreach: Contact the website owner or webmaster, kindly requesting that they add a link back to your site as the image source. Provide them with the exact URL where the image can be found on your website to make it easy for them to comply.
  2. Offer Alternatives: If they’re hesitant to link back, suggest other forms of attribution, such as mentioning your brand name or providing a link to a different, relevant page on your site.
  3. Legal Considerations: For persistent unauthorized use, consider sending a formal copyright infringement notice. However, this should be a last resort, as building positive relationships with other webmasters can lead to more organic link-building opportunities.

Outreach Tips for Earning Image Links

Once you identify sites relevant pages that seem like a good fit, structured outreach can help convert them into links:

  • Personalized pitches to site owners/editors
  • Address them by name and publication. Demonstrate familiarity with their content.
  • Highlight the benefits of using your images
  • Explain why your visuals would appeal to their readers and add value.
  • Offer an exclusive or early release
  • Provide time-sensitive content sites can’t get elsewhere.
  • Follow up promptly and politely
  • If there is no response after a week, follow up once more. Respect any declines.

Savvy and professional outreach gives your imagery the best chance of getting featured. Avoid spammy, untargeted pitches.

Measuring Image Link Building Results

Once your visual assets start earning links, be sure to monitor your progress:

  • Track website referrals and Google Image Search rankings
  • Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to monitor clicks. Check image SERP rankings.
  • Monitor rankings for target keywords
  • See if rankings have improved, especially for keywords used in ALT text.
  • Check ALT text anchor links indexing correctly
  • Confirm your anchor text links are passing equity as intended.

Continue creating images of new link-worthy visual content and reach to further build links to more high-quality image links over time.

Image Link Building Tools

Here is just a bit of brief overview of some top tools and successful examples to support your image link-building campaigns:

CanvaDesign tool for creating pro images and graphics
PitchboxFinds broken image links for outreach
BuzzstreamStreamlines email outreach
AhrefsProvides link data on competitors

Case Studies

SiteCampaign OverviewLinks Earned
Digital AgencyPublished local area infographics112
Home services companySent custom photos for embed67
B2B startupCreated interactive calculators39


Incorporating image link building into your website traffic overall SEO strategy can yield significant benefits. High-quality links from reputable publishers are precious. They help boost domain authority, referral traffic, and search engine rankings.

With the right data visualizations, assets, optimization, outreach, and tracking, image link building can take your results to the next level. Use this comprehensive guide to earn powerful image links pointing back to your site.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best image formats for link building?

The best image formats for link building are JPG, PNG, and GIF. JPG is great for photos, and PNGs preserve transparency. GIFs allow animation to capture attention. Avoid using BMP images building links, as they have large file sizes.

How do you create alt text for SEO link building? 

For SEO and link building, the alt text should include your target keyword(s) as anchor text. Keep alt descriptions concise, under 125 characters. But include key phrases, keywords, and enough context.

How do I add links to image names?

To add links to image names and filenames, rename your image files to include anchor text keywords. For example, your image backlinks to-guide.jpg – just be sure to keep filenames under 60 characters.

What sites should I contact for image backlinks?

Good sites to contact for reverse image search backlinks include the following search engines:

  • Industry blogs
  • Niche sites
  • Web 2.0s like Slideshare
  • Local Directories
  • Wikis
  • Forums relevant to your keywords
  • Build a targeted outreach list.

How do I pitch sites to earn image links?

Effective image link pitching must highlight the following:

  • Benefits
  • Offers exclusivity
  • Personalizes the email
  • Follows up politely
  • Shows familiarity with their content needs.
  • It’s important to stay up to date to avoid spammy or overly promotional pitches.

How do I track my image link-building results? 

Use Google Analytics to monitor clicks and traffic from earned image links. Check Google Search Console for indexed links. Use Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz to monitor rankings and link numbers per linked page.

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