• Backlinks For Photographers

    SEO For Photographers 101

    Tunic Labs SEO For Photographers 101

What Are Backlinks?

Backlinks by definition are just incoming links. So when another website makes a hyperlink to your website, they’re creating a backlink for you. The best backlinks are the ones that come from large and/or popular websites that also fit your niche. A relevant link from say another photographer or other local business will usually trump a link from something unrelated like a casino or plumber. The opposite holds true also, when you create a link on your website to someone else, you’re giving them a backlink.

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks are one of the largest contributors to your search rankings. Google treats it as a top-5 when it comes to it’s ranking factors. Gaining backlinks is easily one of the best ways you can increase your search ranking in the long-term. The more backlinks you have, preferably higher quality ones, the better chance you have at moving up the Google search results.

Over time and just creating great content will surely get you some free (and unexpected) backlinks over time but don’t count on these to get you to the top of the rankings. You’ll need to build them. This process is known as link-building. Makes sense, right? The easiest way to build your link profile is to network, build relationships, build connections, and then you build those backlinks.

How many backlinks are good?

I wish I could say “build six backlinks and you’re #1″ but it really doesn’t work that way. The amount is dependent on many things. This includes how competitive your market is, how well your website is doing in other areas, and well, probably a hundred other factors. The best practice is to build as many high-quality, non-spammy backlinks as you can. Quality is the key word here. I would absolutely rather have one solid backlink from Reddit, CNN, or any large website as opposed to 20 backlinks from low-quality and low-traffic local websites. Quality is always better than quantity.

Keep in mind, aiming too high is a fools errand. You’re probably not going to score that CNN link easily. There’s nothing wrong with starting with smaller websites and building up. All I’m saying is that when you have the choice, go for quality.

How do I know if a backlink is high quality?

As I wrote above, not all backlinks are created equal. There’s many factors that makes one good or or bad. Some may have zero effect, and some may even have a negative effect on your website. Here’s a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting good quality backlinks from good quality websites.

Is the website trustworthy?
Search engines gives a lot more weight on a trusted and popular website like CNN, The Huffington Post, or Wikipedia. Of course these websites are a bit more difficult to get featured on, it’s a great link that’ll probably give you an almost immediate jump in the rankings just due to it’s huge impact on the internet.

Is the website relevant to my own?
Google is trying to send the right traffic to the right websites. So a photographer sending traffic to another photographer is basically telling Google yeah, this website is legit. So get websites that are relevant to your own website. That doesn’t neccessarily mean you should bug every photographer you know for a link. Instead, find businesses that are relevant or like-minded to your customer demographic. Where else is your customers shopping? Maybe a local trendy cupcake shop? Maybe a neat new thrift store that sells interesting clothing? If you’re an infant photographer, maybe your local children’s boutique? Just keep in mind it makes more sense to catch a link from something related to your business than something random like a plumber or Fortnite fan site.

Does the website have strong Page Authority, Domain Authority, or PageRank?
All of these things are basically the same. It’s a number that Google uses to factor into your website rank to list you. The number increases the better you do with your SEO. It’ll climb (or drop) over time. As long as you continue working (and play by the rules), it should never drop. All websites start at zero. It’s literally a race to the top. There is no way to cheat this. The key to going up is to just keep blogging, optimizing, and building backlinks. There’s plenty of ways to check this number but our favorite is Moz’s Open Site Explorer, and it’s free.

Tunic Labs Page Rank Moz Site Explorer VibrantLens

Page Rank
VibrantLens

Tunic Labs Page Rank Moz Site Explorer CNN

Page Rank
CNN.com

So, let’s look at an example comparison. Which website would you rather have a backlink from?

If you can’t answer for sure, that’s ok because two points from my above advice directly conflict with each other.

  1. VibrantLens is more relevant to your own website as a photographer but has low Domain Authority.
  2. CNN has an extremely high Domain Authority but isn’t really relevant to you at all.

So, who wins? Me? I’ll take that link from CNN all day long. Yes, relevance is important but not as important as getting a freaking backlink from a website with a 95 Domain Authority website. CNN will also bring you a truckload of visitors assuming they’re linking to you for a good reason.

How do I know how many backlinks I have?

I used Open Site Explorer above because it’s the quickest way to check things and as a big bonus, it’s absolutely free (up to 10 site searches per week). If you want to go even deeper you can try paid services like Ahrefs and SEMRush.

Tunic Labs Page Rank Moz Site Explorer Kathy Rogers Photography

As you can see from the above screenshot, this website has a pretty good outlook considering it’s a local photographer. You (most likely) will never reach the levels of CNN and other huge websites just because the nature of your business. You’re a local photographer, there’s no way you’re going to reach those levels. What you should focus on is your competitors. If you’re beating them on Domain Authority and backlinks, you’re most likely beating them in keyword rankings.

Did you see that hint I dropped in that last paragraph? Yep! Don’t just look up your own website, look up your competitors. You can learn what they’re doing right… and wrong and use that data to conquer them.

How to utilize your favorite fans to build your backlink profile.

What is an influencer? No, it’s not just some big-assed Kardashian on social media. I mean, if you do know one of them, utilize the hell out of that person but most of us don’t have that luxery. Let’s think smaller. Anyone who constantly sings your praises and suggests you is one of your influencers. Maybe they don’t have the reach of a celebrity but even if they reach a few hundred people per scream, it adds up.

How do you utilize your biggest fans? Easy.

  • Feature them on your website. This is something we do all the time. It really is a win for everyone. You get a real live person screaming your praises, they get recognition for being awesome, and you get all the traffic and love they bring.
  • Offer them free (or heavily discounted) product and/or services in return for an honest review on it. While I don’t personally work for free (just due to the nature of my business), I can tell you that a customer screaming your praises will lead to more business than your own ads will ever bring.
  • When you create new content, simply ask them to share it with their friends and family. Got a new blog post, use your network of influencers to spread the word. How does this help you create backlinks? Easy. All those social media links help and Google will see the traffic increase to those pages and give you a rank jump accordingly.

Some random tips, tricks, and warnings about Backlinks.

  • Backlinks will not get you a shred of business if your own website sucks. Sure, you’ll get more traffic but if your viewers don’t like what they see, they won’t spend the money to buy whatever you’re selling.
  • Getting backlinks on your most popular pages and posts will be the most beneficial. I’d rather have a backlink point to my homepage as opposed to some random photo session I blogged about 3 years ago.
  • Don’t over-do it. Getting a few hundred backlinks per week will throw up an insane amount of red flags with the Google bots.
  • Don’t buy backlinks. Any service that promises you backlinks for no-work and a payment will lead to minimal gains and more likely, big penalties. Or worse, it’s rare, but you may even catch a forever-ban from Google. They really hate it when you try to manipulate your search rankings so yeah, don’t do that.
  • Always ask your vendors, partners, local businesses, and maybe even customers for a link to your website from there’s. It’s mutually beneficial to both of you. If they don’t understand, just send them to this page.
  • Always always always link (and notify) any vendors that you mention in your blog or pages. Why? Chances are they’ll either share and/or link to you in return. Everyone loves seeing their name/product on other websites. It’s basically peer validation for them!
  • Do not use any type of automated plugins or apps to get free backlinks. For the same reason you don’t buy them, you’re not getting quality.
  • As with all business interactions, don’t just beg, but provide value. Which sounds better? “I’d love to offer your readers a 20% off coupon to my upcoming kitten boudoir workshop!” orSo hey, can you link to my website because it would totally help me make more money and help my SEO!” Yeah. provide value.