what sort of images should I release?

Image Link Building – What Sort of Images Should I Release?

Yes, I’m waffling about image link building again. But I got an email yesterday from someone asking me how I decide what albums to produce. In other words, what should the pictures you release actually be of?

This stuff matters. After all, if nobody is looking for a picture of 2mm thick aluminium wiring, it doesn’t matter how many photos you have. They’ll hardly be used and therefore you’ll have little benefit in terms of inbound attribution link acquisition.

So, I answered the question by explaining how I decide what the photos should be of. I am sure other people will have other methods of doing this.

1. What Context do you Want Your Attribution in?

You have a degree of control over this by carefully deciding what you release images of. If you’re happy to have attribution links and people using your images in content that’s nothing to do with your website’s topic, then go for your life. You have free reign 🙂 Generally, though (certainly for clients or commercial sites) I like to try and influence the context in which I might end up gaining these attributions by carefully considering the sort of photos to release. So, with the Tecmark photos we release, most are of Manchester. This is because one context in which we want to be attributed is when people talk about Manchester (our main office being there). People are hardly likely to use a photo of Manchester when they’re talking about Barbados, are they? So by releasing photos of Manchester, we can be confident that the context of the content around our attribution is likely to relate in some way to Manchester.

2. Google Trends Based Research

While the Keyword Planner doesn’t allow you to segment search volume by search type (image, web etc), Google Trends does.

google trends images

When you filter by images only and scroll down, you get a ton of related queries:

google trends related queries


That can give you some inspiration for other queries as well and you can repeat your Trends search with similar queries.

The output of this, for me, is usually a list of ideas of things/places it’s worth having photos of. I then move on and find out whether people are actually looking for photos of these things.

3. Keyword Planner

Google’s Keyword Planner, as mentioned, doesn’t let you filter searches just to Google Images. However, you can append “photos” or “images,” (or even “Flickr”) to the end of your search query to see whether people are querying Google specifically for photos of what you are planning to release.

This is not ideal. I’m sure that the majority of image queries don’t involve any reference of the words above and instead are just users typing what they want then switching to images. But Google is mean. 😉

google keyword planner manchester images

You’ll also be given some related queries that might be useful. Emphasis on “might,” because sometimes they’re really not!

4. Youtube Keyword Tool

Granted, video is by no means the same as image. But if people are looking for visual content on Youtube, you can probably use this information to some degree to inform the relevance of images in that area. So I like to sanity check any albums I am planning to prepare by looking at the Youtube Keyword Tool to determine whether volume for video content exists.

You’ll also get more related keyword ideas from here too:

youtube keyword tool

4. Flickr Stats

If you have one of the old Flickr pro accounts, you’ll get statistics about searches on Flickr itself driving traffic to your photos on a daily basis:

flickr search stats

This can help you to make informed decisions about areas where it’s worth adding more photos (so you can ultimately dominate such searches with your own material).

Relevance over volume

I mentioned at the outset that context is the starting point for determining what sort of photos to create. For non commercial sites, I’m pretty lax when it comes to relevance. Anything goes! But for clients, I try and tie everything in with something of relevance to a client. For travel clients or local clients, that’s nice and easy. For finance clients, we do things like create stock photos related to money and so on and then just cross reference our ideas against some of the tools above.

But failing any tool from Google that lets you assess image volume only (and failing search data being released from Flickr) there’s no 100% accurate way of determining how many people are looking for photos of various things. So lead with context, experiment and keep adding new photos as you learn.