Let’s get one thing straight from the very beginning. If you care about your site SEO, you should care about backlinks. Now, let’s debunk this mystical word that every SEO article and checklist talks about.
What are Backlinks?
A backlink is a link pointing from one website to another. Backlinks are also known as “incoming links” or “inbound links”. You can get backlinks from other websites, mentioning your work, articles, guides, etc.
Similarly, every time you mention and add a hyperlink for a vendor, a venue or a second photographer’s site in your articles, you are creating backlinks for them. Makes sense?
Why are Backlinks Important?
Backlinks have a significant impact on your search engine rankings. Since Google algorithms use them to rank websites, they are still effective and can be used to improve your organic search ranking. The more high quality websites which are relevant for your industry are pointing at your site, the better chances you have of moving up Google’s ranking ladder.
Of course, with time you acquire many backlinks naturally. But if you’re like us and prefer to get things done fast – start networking, building connections and backlinks.
How Many Backlinks are good?
It’s not a numbers competition. Quality always beats quantity. Better have 1 trusted website referring to you, than 10 spammy ones. As these could harm your site, even lead Google to penalizing you. So aim for those that are pertinent to your business and photography services, and those that have high domain authority. Even sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, whilst they may not be directly related to the photography industry, they offer good domain authority. Popular wedding and photography blogs within your industry can also help you get more relevant and quality traffic to your site.
How to Determine if a Backlink is of High Quality
As mentioned, not all backlinks will have a big, positive effect on your site. Some may have zero or negative impact. This is why it’s important to know how to differentiate them. Here are a few criteria to take into consideration when estimating a backlink’s quality:
Trustworthiness – Google puts a lot more weight on trusted, popular websites such as BBC, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Wikipedia, etc. While getting a backlink from this type of sites is difficult, it will add great value to your ranking and traffic data.
Overall, there is no universal formula for domain trust calculation. It’s determined using multiple criteria like: domain age, quality of incoming links, quality of content and many more.
Relevance – if Flothemes is referred by a hosting provider, or a photographer who just launched their new website – that will have a lot more weight, rather than an ice cream company backlinking to Flothemes.
Traffic vs Crickets – if a backlink is not fulfilling its original purpose of sending traffic your way – why on earth would you need it?
Page Authority, Domain Authority or PageRank – this is an algorithm used by Google to rank your website on the search engine result pages. You can easily check any website to determine how valuable your backlink will be. Note, all sites start with zero, so take into consideration multiple indicators. Moz offers a great and useful tool to analyze sites, called Open Site Explorer.
Other backlinks correlation – interestingly enough, if your site is mentioned on a page with other backlinks to known, high quality websites – it adds up some bonus points to your site. This happens because the search engines “think” that your site should be valued at the same level.
How to Check How Many Backlinks Your Site Has
As mentioned above, the Open Site Explorer by Moz is a great tool to do a backlink analysis for your site or your competitors’ sites for free. If you’re more serious about this, you can also try out some paid tools, such as Ahrefs.
Tips & Tricks on Building Backlinks for Photographers
- It all starts with the quality of your own product or content. Create content that people will want to share and link to. Otherwise, get your wallet out as many brands and blogs offer this type of collaboration for a price
- Try to get backlinks to various pages on your site, not just your Homepage, but also Galleries, Blog Articles, etc. Your Homepage already has more hits than any other page.
- We don’t advise using automated plugins or tools for backlink creation.
- Also, don’t go crazy and build 100 links per week. Google will most likely label that as unnatural/unusual activity and penalize you. Recovering from such penalties takes from 3 months to a year or more.
- Never underestimate the power and growing importance of social media channels. The shares you get on Facebook, Twitter add great value to your backlink strategy. Don’t forget about relevant Facebook groups.
- When approaching people and companies for backlinks, keep in mind that you’ll need to offer them/their readers some kind of benefit/value along with your link – an exclusive offer or discount. And of course, “I’d love to offer this exclusive deal to your readers” always sounds better than “Can you link me in this article, it would help my SEO”. The approach counts.
- Try to get backlinks on pages with high traffic, otherwise it may get lost in the wide world web.
Using Influencers for Backlink Building
Ideally, you know who are your top influencers. It can be clients that you’ve worked with who keep raving about your product/service/content and have a significant following. Or, it can be influencers from your industry, whom you will need to approach and probably pay or offer some freebies.
There are a few alternatives to consider:
1. Create a great piece of content, ask them to share it, with linkage to your site.
2. Feature them on your site (interview, survey, photo shoot, testimonial, etc) and have them share it with links to your site.
3. Offer them a free product and ask them to write a review about it. Obviously it has to be somebody who already likes and wants your product.
Where to Get Backlinks for Photographers
Building backlinks to your photography site is not an easy task. However, there are some strategies you can use to generate valuable backlinks. Here are some ideas for you:
- Get listed in photographer directories – some examples of reputable websites are: weddingwire, theknot, junebugweddings, etc.
- Get listed in local directories – first get a Google My Business account and create your GMB listing. Then, go for local directories like Yelp, Bing Places, Hotfrog, etc.
- Ask your customers (the happy ones) to do a blog or social media post featuring your work and their experience with your brand, and have them link back to your site.
- Write guest posts – turn your knowledge and experience into interesting stories or useful guides. Search in Google for sites accepting guest posts. Get in touch with photography related sites and offer your unique content.
- Submit photos to local magazines/news sites – lots of local websites require relevant photos or stories to cover news, talk about recent events or write about wedding events, venues, etc.
- Appear as a guest on a podcast – share your story via a photography podcast. There are lots of photography and creative business related podcasts out there, for example FloInsider.
- Appear as a guest on a Youtube channel – quite similar to the above, except that you can join a fellow photographer or cool creative in a Youtube video or live session.
- Create an in-depth guide or resource – website owners are more likely to link to high quality and in depth guides or articles. It can be a list of tools you use, list of gear you use, some photography tips & tricks, etc.
- Check competitors’ backlinks – research and see who links to your competitors, try to connect to the relevant ones and ask them if they can mention your website too. Make sure to craft an engaging email and explain the value and benefits of sharing your article/page. Use tools like Open Site Explorer.
- Turn mentions into links – search on Google for your brand name and check for websites mentioning your web pages, but not linking to them. Get in touch with the site owners and ask them to hyperlink those mentions.
- Use reverse image search – similarly to the point above, search for your pictures in Google image search and see who lists them on their site but doesn’t include a link back. Ask them to add a link.
- Ask your partners to link back – always link back to vendors and brands you’ve worked with (makeup artists, florists, event planners, venues, etc.) and ask them to link back to you. These will count as quality backlinks as you work in the same industry and target the same clientele.
- Participate in photography contests – that might be a great opportunity to be mentioned as a participant and even win a cool prize.
These 13 ideas will help you get started with your link building strategy. Keep in mind that this is a long term investment which will pay off in the long run. If you have questions join the SEO for Photographers Facebook group for more tutorials, wisdom and help with your SEO and site performance.