Discover more from 🏆 SEO Examples
The Unsplash tactic: How a solo marketer used stock photos to build links at scale
Building high-quality links is one of the toughest SEO challenges we face today.
Reaching out and writing guest articles can be really time-consuming. Acquiring backlinks manually, one by one, can cost you countless hours.
However, organic link building is not much easier. To attract links from relevant sources, you need to have something novel, newsworthy, and original.
The stock photo backlink tactic
Luckily, I came across the following method on marketingexamples.com that provides an alternative route around building links:
The subject of this mini case is Tower Paddle Boards - you guessed it, a manufacturer of paddle boards.
After a photoshoot, Max, who was in charge of marketing, uploaded some of the images to Unsplash, a platform that helps people find free-to-use stock photos.
Months later, the images have millions of views and thousands of downloads!
This may sound great. but how does this help with building links?
Let me explain:
Max realized that if people were downloading the images, they might also be using them on their websites.
To track down all the sites featuring Tower Paddle Board photos, he used reverse image search tools like the one from Google.
Find backlink targets through reverse image search
The photo below alone has 1,437,642 views and 6,655 downloads!
And it was used on countless websites.
Now, Unsplash images are free to use, and there’s no obligation to link.
However, if you dare to reach out and ask, most people are happy to help.
So, Max sent an email to each website, asking for a photo credit AND a link back to their website, towerpaddleboards.com.
Results: Doubling the amount of referring domains
When first deploying this tactic, he “only” received four links.
Over time, the number of referring domains has constantly grown.
Of course, not all of the growth can be attributed to this one tactic, but it certainly made a difference.
How can you use this tactic yourself?
We thought about how we could utilize this technique at Digital Leverage.
Now, we are an SEO-focused content marketing agency, not a paddleboard company.
So it wasn't clear to me how to proceed since we don't have any physical products to showcase.
However, when I searched for “SEO” on Unsplash, it quickly became obvious!
Currently, there are a lot of very generic, old-school stock photo-like images that show up.
It’s just waiting to be disrupted.
And people seem to be searching for it because the following simple picture was viewed 8 million times and downloaded 131 thousand times!
Our take: We could show SEO consultants in their natural environment, working on tech audits, content initiatives, and information architectures among other things.
And just maybe, other companies that write about SEO will link to us in the future - especially after we’ve sent them a friendly email.
Thanks for reading SEO Examples! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.