There's a general bias that artists only care about their craft and not much else.
And so there isn't much advice out there for them when it comes to link building.
Sure, there's information about how to get niche backlinks—for plenty of other, non-artistic niches, at least.
But for photographers and photo artists looking to promote their websites with super-relevant photography backlinks, it's tough to find strategies that work.
I should know:
While not a photographer, I am a cartoonist in addition to being a writer, so I've had my fair share of the struggle.
This short guide is here to help you promote your website (and craft) with six simple link building strategies that have proven successful for many other photographers and business owners just like you.
Keep reading to learn how to get valuable photography backlinks that'll drive new clients and fans to your website—without taking time away from your craft!
How to Discover Your Existing Backlinks
Before we dive into the strategies (you've got six of those to put in your marketing box!), you'll first need to know how to find out what backlinks you may already have and how to track the ones you're about to start building.
The best tool for the job is SEOptimer, which automates the entire process for you.
Once you've added your website (domain or subdomain) to SEOptimer, it's time to discover all your existing backlinks in a nice, ordered list, chock-full of helpful data.
As you can see, there's a ton of useful information here.
By default, all backlinks are ordered by date of discovery. For each backlink, SEOptimer shows you:
- The linking page and its title
- The anchor text used to link back to your website
- Its status (followed/nofollow)
- Domain Strength and Page Strength
Handy, right? Now you'll always know who's linking to you and how, and whether those links are good ones worth having.
Okay, so now that you're armed with SEOptimer, let's jump into the strategies you need to know to earn those photography backlinks!
6 Strategies to Get Photography Backlinks
1. Guest Post on Photography Blogs
Ever wanted to share your knowledge of photography with other professionals and hobbyists? Maybe you know some particular tricks of the trade that could benefit other creatives?
The good news is that you can share this knowledge—with an audience much larger than just your own, and you'll get credited with a backlink!
Jimmy Chan, wedding photographer at Pixelicious, uses guest posting to get his best photography backlinks.
He advises to:
- Target one authoritative domain at a time. That means quality over quantity—quality of the domain (where you want your guest post published) and of their existing content. "Instead of casting a wide net, such as sending out the same pitch to countless publications," Jimmy says, "target one authoritative domain at a time."
- SEO the content you do for others. The content you write for other blogs and websites should perfectly match the type of content they publish, and it should be well-optimized for search engines. Jimmy has relied on this strategy to acquire some of his strongest backlinks (DA 80+).
One example that Jimmy shared with me is for the search terms wedding posing and wedding posing guide.
Running a search in Google, his guest post for popular photography news site PetaPixel ranks on Page 1 and draws a lot of traffic for both PetaPixel and Jimmy's website (through referral traffic).
Jimmy's guest post is all about wedding photography (his niche), and he got a nice followed backlink from PetaPixel for his efforts!
Your Action Plan
- Run a Google search for photography guest posts or photography "write for us" and note down all the interesting websites that you'd love to write a guest post for. (Might as well start with PetaPixel, right? And Digital Photography School is another great option.)
2. Give Photos Away for Free
If there's something every web user loves, it's free stuff!
Letting people share and use your photos for free is an easy and effective way to earn backlinks. All you have to do is find any uncredited photos and shoot an email to the webmasters asking that they link back to your website as a sign of appreciation for the image.
This practice is called link reclamation.
Daniel Gillaspia, CEO of UponArriving, has a passion for photography and uses this strategy to get lots of backlinks for his photos.
First, he uploads his photos to Flickr and allows usage via Creative Commons. Then, by using his name as a search term or conducting a reverse image search, he looks for websites that used his photos without linking to him.
"Once I locate a website using my photo, I then send out an email asking them nicely to link to my website. Most websites are pretty understanding and will happily link to my website.
I think a backlink is more than a fair trade considering how hard I worked for some of those photos and that I'm allowing them to use them for free."
Kevin Wenning, owner of Intentionally Lost, is another photographer who uses this method successfully.
"I share my photos for free. Gasp!
But every few weeks I get an @mention in an Instagram post or an email from someone who used my photo. Then, I just politely ask if they can include a link back to my site.
They got a free photo so the answer has always been yes."
Your Action Plan
- Search Google (and Google Images) for your published photos.
- Find uncredited photos and collect the websites in a list.
- Contact the webmasters of each website to request a backlink in return for the photo.
- Bonus: Add your Creative Commons and Public Domain photos to free image sharing sites like Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay. They might only give you a nofollow backlink in the URL field, but the potential traffic and backlink benefits (through link reclamation) outweigh that minor "nuisance!"
3. Get Listed in Photographer Directories and Communities
It's always a good idea to be featured in industry directories, especially when being listed rewards you with a followed backlink and a lot of traffic.
One good example is The Photographer Directory that gives followed backlinks to photographers.
Also, look for local and online communities or associations for photographers in your niche (e.g. wedding photographers) that link back to their members' websites, and become a member yourself.
Another benefit is that these communities often run photography contests and art features where you can showcase your work and make a name for yourself (and often get linked too, whether directly or through your profile page).
Your Action Plan
- Find photography directories, communities and associations that relate to the type of photography you do.
- Sign up or become a member.
- Take advantage of member benefits such as backlinks and visibility opportunities.
4. Appear as a Guest on Photography Podcasts
You'll have heard about podcasts. Maybe you even subscribe to some and listen (or watch, if it's a video podcast) religiously to every episode.
Well, podcasts are also an effective method to obtain relevant photography backlinks. You get featured and the podcaster will introduce you, your photos and your website. And, you're likely to get a backlink from the transcript!
How cool is that?
It's worked for Kevin Wenning, too. He recommends that you apply for photography podcasts wherever possible, because "talking about your passion connects with audiences better than photos or text alone."
Your Action Plan
- Run a Google search for photography podcasts and listen to some that you find most interesting for your particular subniche.
- Make a list of the ones that spark a vibe with you. Find out if they credit guests with a backlink on their website (even a nofollow backlink is valuable if you're looking for traffic and visibility).
- Reach out to the podcaster to inform them of your availability. Only do this once you've listened to at least a few episodes, so you're familiar with what they do and their style when you approach them.
- Bonus: You can also create your own podcast and get it featured on Player FM and iTunes. These sites give you a followed backlink when you add your website URL to the podcast page.
5. Reach Out to Past Clients
Those who haven't linked back, naturally!
Maybe it was that couple who hired you for their wedding, or that mom who celebrated her kid's birthday. The fact is that the photos are online but you haven't been credited properly, or simply without a backlink.
As you did with the link reclamation process in #2, all you have to do is shoot them an email and ask them to include one.
Your Action Plan
- Find your past clients and check their websites and social profiles for photos you took for them that haven't been credited.
- Email them, ask how they're doing and politely let them know that you'd appreciate a backlink for your hard work, so that other people can find you through your work. They'll be happy to oblige!
6. Study the Competition
When you're short on link building ideas, your competitors are always a good place to turn.
Maybe they've found a secret gem for photography backlink opportunities and showcases—but it's not so secret anymore! With SEOptimer, you can retrieve and track your competitors' backlinks to discover all their link sources.
If you haven't already, add your competitors to the tool by going to Backlink Monitoring from the left sidebar and add your competitor's URL. The process is very similar to what you already did to add your own domain for monitoring.
Then, you'll be able to see a full list of your competitors' backlinks.
Here you can see who linked to your competitor, the anchor text they were linked with, the status of the backlink (look for followed backlinks), and all the other backlink metrics you can see in Backlink Research.
Your Action Plan
- Add your competitors' URLs to SEOptimer and start tracking their backlinks.
- Choose their most interesting, valuable (and preferably followed) backlinks, and try to replicate them. Email the linking site's webmaster for opportunities, introduce yourself and your photography, offer to guest post if they have that option. The sky's the limit!
- Rinse and repeat whenever you need inspiration for new backlink ideas.
Photography Backlinks Wrap-up
See? Finding opportunities for photography backlinks isn't too hard, after all!
Now it's your moment to shine.
You'll soon start to get better rankings, more traffic to your site, and more fans and clients that found you easily online!