“MINE!” Claim Your Content for Quality Backlinks

Link Building with Accidental Linkbait

They say “content is king”, and good content creation can be the linkbait you need to get valuable quality backlinks to your website to improve your authority and showings in the search engine results. Sometimes that content is in the form of an image. Sometimes that image is something so modest that you don’t even realize the valuable linkbait in your possession.
Our SEO Linkbuilding Link Bait: A hand drawn crown that says "This is my content" and "Property of DragonSearch", original artwork by Danielle Correia.

In April 2010, DragonSearch’s Director of Mediology, Danielle Correia, wrote a blog article about content creation. She needed an image to go along with it, so since content “rules”, she drew a crown and put the word “content” in it. For demonstrative purposes, I have embellished it with the text in red.

She insists it was not her proudest work of art. However, months later, she saw her image being used on a major online marketing media magazine. To make it worse, the credit and a link was given to someone else for the image! We did a Google image search and were surprised to find page after page of websites that were using Danielle’s crown without any links or credit being given back to DragonSearch or Danielle. After asking a couple of them to give DragonSearch credit for the image, we got very agreeable responses and they linked the image to the DragonSearch blog article where it appeared. Boom! Danielle’s “crappy little drawing” was promoted to genuine successful linkbait.

Do You Know Where Your Content Is?

Your words, your images, your videos – can easily be shared around the internet, be published elsewhere and even credited to someone else. Besides wanting to claim what’s yours, this is a great opportunity to get valuable backlinks to your site. Google image search makes it easy to track down where your images are being used. If you haven’t used it, it’s simple. Do a Google image search, but click on the camera icon in the search box.

The Google Image Search screen with the camera icon circled to show how to search for your linkbait image by URL.

A dialog box will appear where you can enter the URL of where your image is. Or upload your image from your computer.

Screenshot of Google Image Search dialog box - to search by image using a URL.

Google does its magic and finds other images on the internet that look the same. Now you can see who is using your content and turn it into linkbait!

The next part is hit or miss. You need to find out who to contact. Some sites do post email addresses, author bios, or contact forms. However, some do not, some look “sketchy,” and some are in foreign languages. You may have to do some investigative work on the author’s name to find their email address on a Google+ profile, or LinkedIn, or some other site. Locate the contact information and send them a note, but keep some of these tips in mind:

  • Do not place blame.
    Images get shared and used every day, everywhere. It’s often hard to trace ownership, and in almost all cases I’m sure the intent was not malicious or with theft in mind.
  • Be nice!
    Who knows, you might establish a business relationship with this person. Take the time to see where they used your image. Perhaps it’s in a very interesting blog article, worth reading and if you found it informative, pass on the compliments.
  • Ask for a back link.
    Don’t just request credit, request a backlink to the page where the image was published by you. You can tell them it’s OK for them to leave it on their site as long as they give ownership credit.
  • Make it convenient for them.
    Tell them which page or post you found the image on – and provide the URL.
  • It’s about ownership, not enforcement.
    Don’t think of this as purely a link building campaign or as chasing down the bad guys. What the core principle should be is to claim ownership of your content. Getting backlinks is what you’re asking for in return for the usage of your image.
  • Keep track.
    It’s a good idea to keep track of the emails you sent out, especially if you’ve used a contact form. I track the date, the URL where our image showed up, the name and method of contact (email address or contact form), and my message. Then if I don’t hear back from any of them, I can choose to go back and try to find a different means of contact.
  • Translate if necessary.
    If the site is in a different language, then pass it through Google Translate or another tool in case they don’t know your language and send them the message in both your language and theirs.

Our Link Building Results

Results are not guaranteed, but are still worth the effort. For the content crown, I contacted 18 sites. Of these, seven sites linked the image back to our original blog article, one of them gave us credit with a citation link of our URL (non-clickable link), and 1 of them removed the image.

Pie chart showing the linkbuilding results from asking site owners to give us credit for using our image: Of 18 sites contacted response was: 39% 7 backlinks, 5.5% 1 citation, 5.5% 1 removed image, 50% 9 no response.

Average time spent pursuing these links was about 15 minutes each. This included trying to locate a contact or translating the email to another language, keeping records of my activities, checking for results and responding to those who cooperated with thank you notes. There is a bit more to do if we want to try again to reach those who never responded. This ended up being an easy and not too complicated way to claim ownership of our images and won us 7 quality backlinks from the main content of website pages and blog articles. By the way, none of the backlinks were nofollow.

When Content Ownership Matters

In the grand scheme of things, DragonSearch will not go out of business if someone uses the image of our little content crown linkbait. But for some content, the principle of giving ownership credit where credit is due is paramount. Put yourself in the content creator’s shoes. What if you wrote the best blog article you’ve ever written, and someone copied it and passed it off on their blog as their own? Consider a photographer trying to make a living on their craft who finds their images copied off their website and plastered all over sites like Pinterest and Tumblr without giving them any credit or backlinks to their site? It is in everyone’s best interest if we set a good example to make the extra effort to track down the owner of any images we publish, get permission, give credit and/or provide links when we can. It helps to establish relationships with those whose content we share, it helps our business to enhance our site with their image, and it helps their business to be given links and credit for creating that image.

So set a good example. When you pin or repin an image on Pinterest or Tumblr for example, take the time to do the Google image search and see if you can figure out where the image was originally published by the owner. Pin from there so it will link back to the source. Mention the owner/artist/photographer in your description. Now everyone who shares your image will have the appropriate ownership information included with the image. You did your part. You can feel good about helping someone while you enjoyed sharing their image.

Do it For Yourself – Personal and Unintentional Linkbait

Photo of Jannette Pazer rock climbing, the image used on another site and claimed to be of someone else. Overlaid text says "This image is of and belongs to Jannette Pazer. I know it's true. I was there. You weren't".Why stop at images for your business? What if there was a photo of you someplace that someone got a hold of and changed the context into something embarrassing? What if they used your image on a site that you don’t want to be associated with? What if someone took your image and passed it as their own? It could be infuriating or even damaging. There’s an image of me rock climbing that has become my signature photo/avatar for all of my personal internet use. I did a Google image search on it and found it on someone’s blog claiming it to be a photo they took of “Joyce.” That’s not my name, and I have no idea who the blogger was. I emailed them about the photo and they claimed that they were pretty sure they had taken the photo. Now I know that’s my photo, that’s me in the photo, and since it’s my avatar and signature image all over the internet, I wasn’t too happy that someone was passing it off as their own and changing the identity of the climber. No, it won’t destroy my reputation, but what if something like this could cause damage? It’s worth finding where your image content is being used and in what context.

So, do you know where your content is? It’s worth looking for it to

  • claim ownership and get credit for your work
  • use as one of your link building strategies for search engine optimization
  • see what types of content make good link bait
  • have a good reason to reach out to request quality backlinks

Have you found your images being used elsewhere? Have you had any success getting links from images you own? I’d love to hear your stories of your quest to claim your content.

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