three simple methods to create hyperlinks with pictures

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when it comes to link building, a picture can literally be worth a thousand links.

Take this simple comic from xkcd for example:

According to Ahrefs' Site Explorer, it contains links from over 7,000 referring domains:

2 links for password strength

While this out-of-control level of success may be difficult to replicate, there are simple ways we can all create links using images. Today's guide covers three of the most effective tactics.

But first, let's cover a few basics.

Why do images attract links?

Images can be embedded. And when people embed them in their content, they usually link back to the source.

For example, here's the password strength comic embedded in a post on

3 wired comic

Below the image, the author credits the creator with a link to the image source.

What types of images attract links?

Getting links from images is a strategic process. You can't just snap a picture of your cat and expect the links to flood. You need images that people actually want to embed.

Here are some common types of images that tend to attract links:


People love infographics for all kinds of reasons. This probably explains why building infographic links has been a thing for more than a decade. And while they're a little less popular than they used to be, largely because people went overboard with them a few years ago, interesting and well-designed ones can still attract a lot of backlinks.

Check out this one from Wine Folly:

4 Weinfolly Infographic

According to Ahrefs' Site Explorer, it contains links from 153 unique websites (referring domains).

5 Winefolloy links


Take a look at this graphic:

6 selected snippets queries

According to Google, it was featured on 150 pages.

7 Image Search

This is probably one of the reasons why the post it came from is our most linked post:

8 bbl ahrefs


No, this photo of your lunch on Instagram is not going to be the savior you are looking for. But when you take pictures of things people are looking for, they can attract links like crazy.

For example, with more than 100 nature images from Unsplash, this bank has 349 referring domains:

9 Remove links


Check out this map:

Map with 10 country names

The page it's on has backlinks from 278 referring domains, including BBC, Lonely Planet, Vice, Gizmodo and more.

11 credit card comparison links

Product photos

When you take photos of popular products for your ecommerce store, you can bet that people will use them without permission.

For example, FireBox took their own product photos for a beer brewing set that they sell:

12 Firebox product picture

They're not the only website selling this product, however, and others seem to have used their photos without permission:

13 Product picture no assignment

3 ways to create links with images

Let's get to the core and start building some links.

  1. Request links from improper write-ups
  2. Request links from unauthorized use
  3. Use the TRUST formula

1. Request links from improper write-ups

If you've already created some of the image types above, you may already have embedded them.

For example, here is an embedding of our keyword length distribution image on another website:

14 Embed Keyword Distribution

If you look below the picture, you have given us a link. However, this link points to the actual image file itself and not the post it came from. This is not ideal as image links are a dead end for PageRank and are unlikely to help our page rank in Google.

To find and claim the correct mapping for these type of image links:

a) Find incorrect attributions

Paste your website into Ahrefs' Site Explorer and go to Backlinks Report, then look for .png or .jpg in the backlink URLs:

Screenshot 2020 09 14 at 7:19 p.m.

Next, filter the report to show only "dofollow" links from unique domains.

15 image links 2 "srcset =" 1600w, - content / uploads / 2020/10/15-image-links-2-680x274.png 680w, 768x310 .png 768w, 1536w "data-size =" (maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

You can see that for the Ahrefs blog, 497 websites link directly to image files.

Now it's just a matter of going through the report and writing down all the links we want to claim in a table.

16 image links for reclaiming "srcset =" 1600w, blog / wp-content / uploads / 2020/10/16-image-links-to-reclaim-680x148.png 680w, - links-to-reclaim-768x167.png 768w, 1536w "data sizes =" ( maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

Just check the page source code before contacting as there is always a chance they will link to the actual page the image is from. In this case you do not want to contact us.

b) Access and request proper mapping

Find the email address of someone associated with each website and send a quick email requesting a link change, as follows:

Hey john

I just saw that you included one of our graphics in your post on (topic).

Is there any way that instead of the image file itself, you could create a link to the post it is from?


It's that simple. The hardest part is finding the right contact information. However, this video can speed it up:

c) Automate everything

If you are successful with this technique, it makes sense to stay current on future inappropriate write-ups as well.

To do this, set up a new backlink alert in Ahrefs Alerts and use the following settings:

Domain or Url::
Mode: prefix
Result: New backlinks

17 Backlinks warning "srcset =" 1190w, / uploads / 2020/10/17-backlinks-alert-680x407.png 680w, 768w "data - sizes = "(maximum width: 1190px) 100vw, 1190px

Note that this will only work if your site is running on WordPress. If you use another one CMSyou need to find out where your images are uploaded and then use them for that Url. Or if you use one CDNyou need to monitor this domain.

Now, assuming everything is set up correctly, you will receive email notifications when someone links directly to an image on your website.

18 backlinks e-mail "srcset =" 1600w, content / uploads / 2020/10/18-backlinks-email-680x414.png 680w, 768w, https: // 1536w "data-size =" (maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

You can then browse the links and email them if you want to claim any.

2. Request links from unauthorized use

Most of the people who use your pictures will post you a link, but not everyone.

For example, here's a picture of us on someone else's page, but according to the source code, there is no link to us at all:

19 Use unauthorized images "srcset =" 1600w, wp -content / uploads / 2020/10/19-unauthorized-image-use-504x425.jpg 504w, - 768x648.jpg 768w, 1536w "data-size =" (maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

To find and claim links when used unauthorized:

a) Find images that have been used without permission

The easiest way to do this is to do a google reverse image search. Just upload your picture or paste it in the box Urland Google will throw back pages that use the image.

19 Search for reversed images "srcset =" 1600w, wp -content / uploads / 2020/10/19-reverse-image-search-680x421.jpg 680w, - 768x476.jpg 768w, 1536w "data-size =" (maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

All you need to do then is go through the results to make sure that:

  • Your picture is actually on the page
  • They don't credit you a link
  • You want a link from this website

If all of the above apply, write down the page in a table.

b) Access and request mapping

Find the right email address and reach us with a simple email like:

Hey john

I just saw that you included one of our graphics in your post on (topic).

Is there some way to add a link to the source?


c) Automate the detection of the use of unauthorized images

Using Google to find inverted images is completely free. However, it is time consuming when you have to review a lot of pictures. Also, you'll need to repeat the process every few months if you want to keep an eye on the use of unauthorized images.

The solution to this problem is to use a paid tool like Image Raider.

For a monthly fee, this tool monitors the web for embeds of up to 10,000 images. Just log in, make a list and add the images you want to monitor.

20 image raider "srcset =" 1564w, Uploads / 2020/10/20-image-raider-621x425.png 621w, 768w, https: // 1536w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 1564px) 100vw, 1564px

You can easily add Image Raider to any image on your website in seconds. Just crawl your site with Ahrefs' Site Audit and go to pictures Report, click crawled images, export image resources and paste the list of image urls into Image Raider:

Screenshot 2020 09:15 at 12:04 p.m.Add 20 images image raider "srcset =" 1600w, blog / wp-content / uploads / 2020/10/20-add-images-image-raider-680x359.jpg 680w, -images-image-raider-768x405.jpg 768w, 1536w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

While this may seem like a good idea at first, it is unlikely that you will want to monitor all of these images. It's probably a better idea to browse your favorite pages and copy the URLs of the images you want to monitor into Image Raider:

Screenshot 2020 09:15 at 12:09 p.m.

In both cases, Image Raider monitors the autopilot for new occurrences of your images. All you need to do is log in once a month and view new "violations". You can do this by filtering the report by "Result Found Date".

21 Image Raider results "srcset =" 1600w, wp -content / uploads / 2020/10/21-image-raider-results-645x425.png 645w, - 768x506.png 768w, 1536w "data-size =" (maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

Just know that what Image Raider calls violations may not be actual violations. This is because the tool doesn't check that the pages are pointing to you. The solution to this problem is to export the URL list from Image Raider and do a custom search in Screaming Frog to look for links on the pages.

To go to Configuration> Custom> Find, select the "Does not contain" option and insert this regular expression:

) * bhrefs * = s * ”((^”) * (^ ”) *)

Note that you need to replace with your website.

From there, go to the "Custom" tab and select the "Does not contain" filter from the drop-down list. This will show all pages with no links to your page.

23 screaming frog "srcset =" 900w, Uploads / 2020/10/23-Screaming-Frog-680x248.png 680w, 768w "data- Sizes = "(max width: 900px) 100vw, 900px

You can then paste these URLs back into Screaming Frog and use the Ahrefs API Connection to get metrics like domain rating, Url Evaluation etc.

22 screaming frog

It is then only a matter of viewing the export and selecting which websites you would like to contact if necessary.

All of this may sound like a lot of work, but once you get into it it should only take you 15 to 20 minutes per month. Even if you only get a link or two, that's not bad.

3. Use the TRUST formula

You can only claim so many backlinks from existing images. After that, you need to create more images to attract backlinks. There are several different ways to do this, but a proven formula is this TRUST Formula.

Here's the process in a nutshell:

  1. TrFinal topic
  2. R.Research and analysis
  3. U.unique (unusual or unexpected) take away
  4. S.implement visually
  5. promotion

David McSweeney here explains exactly how this tactic is carried out and how he has managed to get backlinks from high authority sites like Yahoo Sports and FHM. But now let's go over the basics.

a) Find a trending topic

When journalists and bloggers are already writing about a topic, it is easier to bring them new content on a similar topic.

Google News is one of the best ways to find trending topics. Just search for what your website is all about and see the trending topic results.

24 golf messages "srcset =" 1590w, Uploads / 2020/10/24-golf-news-680x208.png 680w, 768w, https: / / 1536w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 1590px) 100vw, 1590px

In David's case, he found that many websites were writing about Tiger Woods and chose this as his subject.

b) Find interesting data on your topic

Find data, analyze it, and extract unique insights. (Here are some sources to get you started.) In David's case, he used Wikipedia data to find out how much Tiger Woods had made in each state during his career.

25 Research "srcset =" 391w, /10/25-research-285x425.png 285w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 391px) 100vw, 391px

His idea was to create a map with this data.

c) Write the heading

Next, you'll need a simple one- or two-line takeout or headline for your pitch. If you have problems, you can use this format:

We have {X} worked out.
Did you know {Y}?

Here's what David wanted:

We found out how much Tiger Woods made in each one US Status.
Did you know he made money in exactly half of them?

d) Create your picture

You have two main options: create a simple image using a tool like Visme or, or create something custom.

David decided on the second option and found the following:

26 Tiger Woods Map "srcset =" 1000w, -content / uploads / 2020/10/26-tiger-wood-map-425x425.png 425w, 768x768.png 768w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px

Then he launched it on his website with a short report:

27 Tiger Woods Map Feature "srcset =" 726w, blog / wp-content / uploads / 2020/10/27-tiger-wood-map-feature-389x425.png 389w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 726px) 100vw, 726px

e) Promote the piece

The core of this process is email contacting journalists and bloggers who are already talking about your topic. You can find these in Google News or in Ahrefs' Content Explorer.

Find your topic in the Content Explorer, then filter on English pages published in the last seven days.

28 Contents Explorer Tiger Woods "srcset =" 1600w, blog / wp-content / uploads / 2020/10/28-content-explorer-tiger-wood-651x425.png 651w, -explorer-tiger-wood-768x502.png 768w, 1536w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 1600px) 100vw, 1600px

Then it's just a matter of sifting through the results, identifying websites to link from, finding their contact information, and sending a pitch.

Here is the pitch that David sent:

29 outreach email trust "srcset =" 652w, -content / uploads / 2020/10 / 29-outreach-email-trust-483x425.png 483w "data sizes =" (maximum width: 652px) 100vw, 652px

For more information on David's results, see this post and how to create links to cards in this post.

Final thoughts

Images are a powerful way to create links because they can be embedded. Their visual nature also makes it easy to explain complex topics. This is why infographics can work so well.

Remember that as a picture, not everything makes sense. You shouldn't try to force your content into this format just to create links. It will not work. Countless infographics have failed miserably for this very reason.

Any questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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