Whether you’ve never heard of backlinks before or simply want to improve your current backlink strategy, you’ve come to the right place. This beginner’s backlink guide will help jumpstart your backlink building efforts!
What Are Backlinks for Photographers?
Backlinks are an extremely important part of any SEO strategy. In fact, engineers at Google have said that backlinks are one of the top 3 most important ranking factors! Backlinks are simply a link on another website that points to your domain. Anytime a website is linking to your domain, you have gained a backlink. The same is true when the situation is reversed. Whenever you link to another domain on your own website, you have now created a backlink for that business or individual.
The best backlinks are ones that are relevant and in your niche. The more relevant the backlink is, the greater impact it will have for your domain. For example, the best backlinks for wedding photographers will be found on websites that pertain to wedding planning, venues, DJs, cakes, floral arrangements, gowns, and any wedding related business. Some other common backlinks for wedding photographers include online business directories, chamber of commerces, marketing agencies, and businesses that are not directly related to weddings (e.g. dentists giving a photo credit). These backlinks are still valuable, but may not pass as much topical relevance to your domain.
Want some specific examples? Check out episode 3 of The SEO for Photographers Podcast where Dylan and Corey talk about 30 specific links they built to their photography websites.
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Why Do Photographers Need Backlinks?
Backlinks are a crucial part of your SEO ranking. When Google sees your website’s domain is being mentioned on other relevant websites, it increases their trust in the quality of your content. This, in turn, helps your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and makes your website more visible. The larger number of quality backlinks you have, the better your chances are of moving up the SERPs quickly.
Backlinks will rarely land in your lap, so it is up to you to build a backlink strategy that works for your photography business. You should be creating exceptional quality content that your audience would be happy to share. Just don’t expect them to do it on their own. Don’t be afraid to ask people to share your content, and return the favor when they ask. If your website and everyone in your network improve their backlink strategies, you all move up in the SERPs faster.
How Many Backlinks Do Photographers Need?
There is no specific number of backlinks that will land you on page one of Google. You will find photographers from every niche around the world have different answers to this question. If your local market is highly competitive, you will likely need more than someone who lives in a more rural area with less competition.
Ultimately, you want as many high-quality backlinks as you can achieve. If you have five high-quality backlinks, that may be far better than having 100+ low-quality, low traffic domains linking your domain. Google can (and will) ding your SEO ranking if you only have low-quality backlinks. Always focus on quality over quantity.
Are The Backlinks High-Quality?
It is important that you do not build a large number of low quality or spammy backlinks. Otherwise, your SEO ranking could suffer over time. If you aren’t sure how to identify high-quality backlinks for wedding photographers (or any photography niche for that matter), ask yourself these questions:
- How trusted is this website? If the website isn’t secured by HTTPS, you should steer clear of it whenever possible. Aim for larger, well known domains whenever possible. If you can’t get featured on iconic sites like The Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, focus on reputable sites in your local area. Your chamber of commerce, local news, and business directories can still go a long way.
- How relevant is this website? The more relevant the website, the better your SEO ranking will be over time. If it makes no sense for a domain to link to your website, Google may disregard that link altogether. When Google sees that a link creates a better user experience, they are more likely to pass “juice” to that domain.
- How strong is the Domain Authority for this website? “Domain Authority” is a metric created by Moz to mimic Google’s PageRank algorithm. Domains that have a strong backlink profile will generally have a higher Domain Authority. If you can get a website with a higher Domain Authority than yours to give you a backlink, it will improve your SEO ranking.
- Could a link on this website hurt my reputation? If a website was created specifically to add links (like a private blog network or “PBN”), or if the website may harm visitors (viruses, misleading information, etc), you should stay away at all costs.
If you are just starting your backlink strategy, don’t fret. It is okay to start with websites that are not the highest quality. Everyone starts somewhere. Just make sure you aren’t building or accepting links from websites that are spammy in nature. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: “would a real person visit this website and follow this link to my site?” If the answer is no, the link may not add any value.
Follow vs Nofollow Backlinks
Google uses links within webpages to discover other pages around the internet. This process is called “crawling.” However, it is possible to ask Google and other bots NOT to crawl (or follow) a link on your page.
This type of link is called a nofollow link, and the value of nofollow links is a hot topic among SEOs. Some people will tell you that nofollow links don’t help your ranking whatsoever. Others will say that Google mostly ignores the nofollow link attribute these days.
In 2019 Google made an official statement that says nofollow and other link attributes are “hints“ to help them consider how to use the link. However, they go on to say “We’ll generally treat them as we did with nofollow before and not consider them for ranking purposes.”
Here’s the simple answer: Nofollow links probably don’t pass ranking “juice” in most common situations, but they are a normal part of a healthy backlink profile, and there are secondary benefits that make them worth pursuing. Just make sure your backlink strategy isn’t made up of ONLY nofollow links.
Here’s a great article by Ahrefs if you want to dig more into nofollow links and the implications for SEO.
How To Get Backlinks for Photographers
While many backlink strategies are similar, there are some unique opportunities for photographers. Here are some tips on exactly how to build backlinks specifically for photographers:
- Submit any interesting photo shoots to your local and national news sources. Right now, there are so many interesting opportunities to submit stories about families or couples who are defining a “new normal” in a Covid era. Even if something seems like a normal session to you, try to think about what stories about your clients might be interesting to other people in your area (with their permission, of course).
- Utilize Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to find stories that are relevant to your niche. Sign up for an account and you’ll get notified daily when writers need quotes or photos for an article they are working on.
- Become a guest blogger on high-quality websites in your niche. Make sure the blog idea you have is a complete, cohesive piece you can pitch to the website owner. Many photography industry blogs are happy to post content from photographers.
- Join as a guest on a YouTube channel or podcast. These creators always need content! There are thousands of art, business, and photography related podcasts who would love to find someone to interview.
- Get featured on wedding publications using Two Bright Lights or Matchology. Most of these links will be highly relevant, so don’t just chase the top-tier exclusive blogs. Sometimes you can get 2-3 links from one submission!
- Set up free profiles that allow links to your website. Here are a few to get you started: Behance, Gumroad, Patreon, Instapaper, Product Hunt, Business.com, Awwwards, 500px, and Flickr.
- Use Google’s reverse image search (YouTube Video) to find where your pictures have ended up online. If a high-quality website is using your image and did not backlink your domain, reach out to them and ask them to add your link.
- Similar to tip 7, search for your brand online (YouTube Video) and see where it comes up. If you see it mentioned, but it isn’t linked, reach out to the website and ask for your backlink.
How To Check Backlinks for Photographers
Fortunately, a number of tools exist online to help photographers check their backlinks. Our absolutely favorite tool for doing this is Semrush. Go ahead and check it out for free. Simply type your domain in the bar below and click “Analyze.”
If you find that our favorite tool isn’t yours, that’s perfectly okay. A few other options you have at your disposal include Ahrefs and Moz. Both of these tools offer you the ability to learn more about your website’s backlinks for free. If you want to access even more data, you can sign up for a free trial and get into the nitty gritty details that drive the best backlink strategies for photographers.
Final Thoughts on Backlinks for Photographers
Keep in mind that your SEO strategy is a long-term strategy. This means you should get your backlinks over time. If you get dozens of new backlinks all at once, then don’t receive another backlink for 6 months, this can alert Google something fishy is going on with your domain. Take your time and build high-quality backlinks over a few months.
Now that you have all of the tips and tools you need to build the best backlink strategy for your photography business, go get started! If you still have questions or want to take your SEO strategy to the next level, enroll in our SEO course today!