Unsplash Growth Hack: Image Backlink Building in 4 Simple Steps
Seriously, it’s just that easy. Well, not easy per se, but you will need some luck on your side and have a knack for taking quality photos. I’m no photographer myself but I have an eye for what people look for in a good stock photo so this Unsplash growth hack worked out great for me. Unlike my other growth hacks that involve using Instagram bots or reverse engineering content distribution algorithms, this Unsplash growth hack is super simple.
How to Use Unsplash for Image Backlink Building
If you’re the type of person that likes to skip all the bullshit and get the tl;dr version of things, here’s how you can build backlinks by uploading photos to Unsplash or any other website that offers free stock photos:
- Upload photos to Unsplash.
- Wait. Wait for a long time for those photos to get lots of views.
- Do a Google Reverse Image Search for your photos.
- Email everyone that used your photos asking for backlinks.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way so that everyone’s clear on the process that’s so simple that your entry level intern could understand, let’s get to the meat of the operation.
You need some fucking good photos.
I really mean it. Your photos need to be so fucking good that people are going to use them on their websites. Many, many photographers use Unsplash as a way to get clout or validate themselves as artists, so your photos need to stand out. I’m no photographer, so I can’t really give you advice on how to take good photos honestly. In fact, if you’re a photographer that’s written blogs or guides on how to become a better photographer, can you drop a comment with a link for me? Would love to improve my s̶e̶l̶f̶i̶e̶s̶ photos for clients and blogs!
Luckily for me, I’m living in Thailand so my mundane and mediocre shots of temples get me enough views for this growth hack to work consistently. Just the fact that I’m in a foreign land with things that Unsplash’s typical viewer in Western countries doesn’t get to see in person means I get consistent views. WHEW LADS
Your Unsplash uploads need to be photos you don’t care about.
People from all around the flat earth are going to be using your photos since they’re up for grabs for anyone to use. For anything. Make sure these aren’t your best photos or ones you necessarily care about taking credit for because the vast majority of the time, no one will credit you for them. I didn’t even give credit to the photographers I featured in this blog? Why? Because I don’t have to. If they read this, I’ll gladly do it. No problem.
Unsplash has a little pop-up after you download a photo that encourages users to credit photographers but how many are actually going to? Barely anyone, that’s how many. And when I say barely anyone, I really mean it. No one gives a shit. That’s why they’re on Unsplash in the first place. These are free stock photos where you don’t need to credit the author. That’s the whole point of the platform.
Unsplash SEO 101: Not Necessary but it Helps
Unsplash started out as a humble project, an email list that would send out free stock photos in packs every so often. Since then, it’s evolved into a fucking beast that every blog under the sun uses when they don’t have OC to work with.
The way Unsplash has worked in the past as a platform is that every photo is manually reviewed and then thrown into one of a handful of statuses: Unevaluated, Approved, Searchable and Promoted. You can read more about it on their Medium blog about Contributing to Unsplash but basically all you need to know is that they’re slowly shifting gears towards making everything searchable. That means image SEO on Unsplash will become more of a thing than it already is.
Right now, if you image is set to Searchable after being reviewed, there’s a couple things you can do to make it seen by more people:
- Add hashtags.
- Write a keyword-heavy title.
- Write a “Story”, which is basically just a caption or description.
- Add a location (Name, City, Country).
That’s it. Personally, I only give a shit about Unsplash SEO on my images that are either on the verge of getting a good amount of views and optimizing the photos that are already getting lots of views. Unsplash SEO in its current state is messy and I haven’t found consistent methods, so I’ll save that for another day.