The Advanced Guide to Link Building

Written by Neil Patel & Brian Dean

The Advanced Guide to Link Building Download PDF

Turning Images Into Links

Guest posting. Article directories. Press releases. What do they all have in common? They all use on words to land you links. But focusing on text-based link building can make you miss out one of the most powerful link building strategies on the planet: image link building. From infographics to icons, this chapter will teach you how to turn quality images into powerful backlinks.

Infographic Marketing

Infographics are a link builder's Trojan horse. Armed with a quality infographic, authority sites that would usually ignore you embrace you with open arms. Small businesses consistently use infographic marketing to get links from authority powerhouses like NYTimes.com and Business Insider. Although paying a pro designer works best, I'm going to show you a free tool that you can you to create viral-worthy infographics with ease.

  1. Find What's Out There

    The worst thing you can do is cover a topic that's already done to death. And while almost every conceivable subject has been turned into an infographic, that doesn't mean that there aren't new angles out there waiting for you.

    First, do a few Google searches to find industry-related infographics.

    • "keyword" + "infographic"
    • keyword infographics
    • best keyword infographics (good for finding large lists of infographics)

    Now skim through Google web and image results:

    Even if you're in a somewhat obscure niche, there are probably dozens of infographics out there about your topic. Don't be discouraged: we'll come up with something fresh later.

    • Visual.ly

      Visual.ly is the web's #1 directory for infographics. And it's a great place to get a feel for the current infographic landscape.

      Just head over to http://visual.ly/. Enter your keyword in the the top toolbar.

      Skim through the results to see what angles have been covered well (or haven't).

    • Pinterest

      Pinterest is a gold mine for infographic ideas.

      Just head over to Pinterest and enter the same search strings you used in Google:

      And look at the results.

  2. Finding a Hot Topic

    You know what's out there. Now it's time to get an idea of what works for your niche.

    Go back to http://visual.ly/ and do a search for your keyword.

    Then sort choose "Organize by Liked."

    Or organized by "Viewed."

    This will filter out the duds and give you an idea of what types of infographics tend to become popular.

    You can also see what tends to work especially well in your industry. Instead of searching, scroll down and click "More Topics."

    And find the topic that fits best. In our car insurance example you'd want to choose "Business" or "Transportation."

    And sort by likes or views like you did before.

    • Topsy

      Topsy is an awesome resource to gauge the popularity of infographics. Head over to Topsy and enter "keyword infographic."

      Choose "All Time" from the sidebar.

      Because we're interested in links, choose "links" under the search category.

      By now you should have topic that a) has a history of getting linked to and shared and b) hasn't been done already. Now it's time to find the data you're going to include in the infographic.

    • Google Indexing

      Perhaps the best way to see whether or not an infographic "made it" is to search for the title in Google. This will give you an accurate estimation of how many sites the infographic syndicated to. Grab one of the titles you should in Visual.ly or Topsy and pop it into Google with quotes.

      And check out the number of pages in the results.

      Yowza! That's a lot of results. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

  3. Getting Your Data Together

    Most people collect information from random places, like news sites and University .pdf reports. While those are awesome places to find reliable information, it's the wrong approach for infographics. Why? Because your ultimate goal is to get your infographic on as many niche-relevant sites as you can. And unless your infographic is jaw-droppingly amazing, it's not likely to get posted on Harvard.edu. However, it can easily end up on authority sites in your industry. That is, if you flatter them by citing them as a reference.

    First, take note of the movers and shakers in your industry. Pay particular attention to sites that conduct and publish industry research. As the best links you can get are for sites ranking in the top 10 for your target keywords, start with those:

    For example, let's say we wanted to create an infographic about ways to lower your monthly premiums. First, we'd go to each of the top-10 site's blogs.

    And search for any money saving tips that they've published.

    Here's one:

    Copy that URL and keep it in a spreadsheet with your other sources:

    Continue this process until you have enough information to put together an infographic with at least 25 data points. You'll include these authority sites as references at the end of your infographic.

  4. A Winning Design

    If you're serious about your infographic, you definitely want to hire a professional graphic designer to make it for you. There are literally hundreds of infographics published every single day. And a killer design can help make yours stand out. However, if you're on a tight budget there's a free tool that can help you get the job done: infogr.am.

    First, head over to: http://infogr.am/. Sign up for a free account.

    Click on "New Infographic".

    Choose a template that's going to work best with your infographic's topic. The standard one tends to work well. Click "Use It."

    Fill in the basics, like your title and subtitle.

    To add data, click on the "Add a Chart" button.

    Choose your chart style:

    And click "Add to Chart."

    To enter your data, double click the chart. Then enter the data in the field.

    Rinse and repeat until you're done. When you're ready to show your work to the world, hit the "Publish" button.

    And confirm.

    Copy and paste the embed code onto your own site.

    If you're using Wordpress be sure to paste the text after hitting the "Text" tab:

    Once copied, delete the infogr.am link at the bottom (after all, you made it!).

    Now it's time to get your promotion on.

  5. Get Your Embed Code

    A functional embed code increases the number of backlinks that you get from your infographic marketing campaign. Every time someone pastes your embed code onto their site, it will display your infographic and link back to your site. I actually posted the steps on how to do this in in the Advanced Guide to SEO: http://www.quicksprout.com/the-advanced-guide-to-seo-chapter-8/ (search for "Adding Easy to Copy and Paste Embed Code").

    All you need to do is copy the following code into your WordPress editor underneath your infographic (make sure to click the "text" tab).

    <textarea rows="5" cols="70" onClick=select() >
    	<a href="(URL Of The Image File">
    		<img alt="" src="URL Of The Image File" />
    	</a>
    	<a href="(Destination URL #1">Anchor Text #1</a> by 
    	<a href="(Destination URL#2">Anchor Text #2</a>
    </textarea>

    This embed code makes your infographic easy to share, and allows you to choose the linking page and anchor text that people use when sharing your work.

  6. Get The Word Out

    • Submit to Infographic Directories

      Once your infographic is posted onto your site, it's time to start marketing it. One of the best ways to get some traction to your infographic is to submit it to free infographic directories. Webmasters looking to add infographics to their site directories tend to use these directories. The submission process is fairly straightforward.

      Let's use OnlyInfographic.com (PR3) as an example.

      First, find the "Submit" button (usually at the top toolbar).

      Enter your information in the fields.

      To get the biggest SEO boost from each infographic directory link, write a unique 150-300 word description for each submission (this also increases the odds that your infographic gets accepted by the directory). A unique description makes the search engine thinks that every place your infographic appears is unique content.

      And paste your embed code.

      Rinse and repeat. Here are a few more free infographic directories that hook you up with followed links:

    • Reddit

      Reddit is a top 100 Alexa ranked site that most internet marketers ignore. However, Reddit is a fantastic place to get more eyeballs onto your infographic -- meaning more potential shares and links.

      First, head over to Reddit and make a free account.

      When you're ready to submit, click on the "Submit a New Link" button:

      And fill in the details. Try to come up with a unique title that will attract attention of this crowded community.

      Reddit has hundreds of "subreddits," which are tightly-focused categories. To get the most exposure for your infographic, it's important to choose the right subreddit. If you have an infographic in a popular, fun niche (like video games, marketing, smart phones etc.) it's best to submit the infographic to that topic’s subreddit. However, if you're submitting a niche in a somewhat dull niche (like insurance or pest control), you should submit it to the infographic subreddit.

Image Directories

Infographics aren't the only way to get high-quality followed links using images. Image directories are gold mines of authoritative backlinks. And unlike image sharing sites like Pinterest and Flikr, these sites allow followed links.

Whether we're going to use icons, clip art or vectors, the basic process is the same.

  1. Get a Hot Topic

    To prevent spam submissions, nearly all image directories carefully screen submissions. And some are very picky about what they accept. Fortunately, you can get just about anything accepted if you submit images that their users are on the hunt for. For example, let's say that you wanted to submit a set of icons to http://www.iconspedia.com/ (PR5).

    First, head over to the site and click on "Top Downloaded Icon Packs".

    And take a look at what gets downloaded most often:

    It looks like icons related to mobile, technology and social media do well on this site. It's probably best to make an icon set based around this as opposed to kitchen appliances.

  2. Design Your Icons

    I highly recommend hiring a designer to make icons for you. In fact, Fiverr.com has a number of top-notch icon designers.

    But if you're on an extremely tight budget, you can use the free online icon maker using Coverticon. This tool allows you to convert an image into icon form. (Just make sure you own the rights of the original image!)

    First, you'll need to upload an image to http://converticon.com/. When you hit the "Get Started" button the site will ask you to choose an image file from your computer.

    By default it searches your PC for .ico files. However, we're simply shrinking images into icons. Choose Image (png, gif, jpeg) from the dropdown menu.

    Choose an icon from your computer.

    Click "Export".

    Choose a size (128x128 is the standard size for vector and icon sets).

    Click "Save as" and save your image.

  3. Prepare to Share

    Once you have your images ready, it's time to upload them to your site. This way you can send the directories a link they can use to easily download the images.

    Put all of the images you're going to use into a folder. Then zip the folder containing the image set.

    Head over to your Wordpress dashboard. Click the "Media" tab on the sidebar.

    Click "Add New."

    Upload the zipped folder to WordPress.

  4. Submission Time

    Let's use http://www.iconfinder.com/ (PR6) as an example of how to submit images to directories.

    Click the "Submit Icons" button.

    Fill in the information it asks (don't forget to include your homepage URL!). Make sure to check that you're the author of the icons.

    Under the "Please Select a License" dropdown menu, choose "Free for Commercial Use (Link to author)."

    Go back to Wordpress and copy the URL of your zipped icon folder.

    Paste it into the field "Link to compressed file with icons."

    It’s a good idea to emphasize that you created the images in the comments field.

    After you hit "Submit" your icons will usually show up within 1-2 weeks.

    Here are some other image directories to submit your images to:

Reverse Image Search

Sometimes other webmasters love an original image — like an infographic or diagram — that you've put on your site. And they sometimes love it so much that they'll feature it on their own site. Alas, some of these webmasters may, ahem, forget to link back to you when posting that image on their site. This is especially common with infographics. One of the easiest link building wins on the planet is to reach out to these site owners and politely ask them for the link you deserve.

  1. Find Your Image’s URL

    First, find the URL of an original image that you've posted on your site. For this example, let's use the QuickSprout infographic: How to Optimize Contact Forms for Conversions (http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/01/31/how-to-optimize-contact-forms-for-conversions/).

    You can do that by right clicking the image (ctr + click on a mac) and choosing "Copy Image Location".

  2. Reverse Image Search

    Then, head over to Google image search: http://images.google.com/imghp?hl=en.

    Click on the little camera button in the search field. This allows you to search with an image.

    Paste the URL you coped earlier into the field and click "Search by Image."

    Google will show you the pages in their index with that same image.

  3. Find Unattributed Links

    Visit each page in the results. Look for any that don't include an attribution link.

    Here's one:

  4. Reach Out

    Finally, get in touch with the site owner and ask for a link. The idea isn't to be threatening, but to thank them for posting your work and reminding them to link back to you.

    Subject: Question about (Their Site Name)

    Hello (Name),

    I was browsing around (Their Site) today and came across the infographic: (Infographic Name).

    You know what's amazing? I actually made that infographic!

    I just wanted to send you a quick message to thank you for sharing it with your followers.

    And if you have a minute, I'd really appreciate if you could link back to the page on my site where I originally posted the infographic.

    I know you're busy, so I'll put the HTML code here. That way, you can easily copy and paste it into Wordpress.

    Infographic courtesy of <a href="http://YourPageURL.com">Your Site's Name</a>

    Thanks!

    (Your Name)

    This friendly approach works. Sure, some people will ignore you. But in my experience, most will hook you up with your link. And considering it only takes a few minutes to send out a dozen emails, reverse image search is one of the best link building ROI strategies out there.

Oh, what a feeling!

You're quickly becoming a link building master. Next up, we're going to cover one of the most powerful link building strategies on the planet. Are you ready for Chapter 10: Advanced Guest Posting? I know I am!