How Freddie Chatt Increased Backlinks by Uploading Images to Unsplash


By uploading images to royalty-free sites and reaching out to other pages using them, Freddie Chatt achieved a 30% success rate on backlink requests, which, with other SEO tactics, led to a 4x increase in organic traffic in 6 months.

Here’s exactly how he did it.

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SEO Consultant Freddie Chatt was working on SEO for an ecommerce website. Because the website’s authority was low, one key focus was link building.

The ecommerce site already had great imagery of their products. These included their products being used in lifestyle situations. 

Freddie leveraged these existing images to build backlinks, by:

  1. Uploading the images to Unsplash (free stock photography website).
  2. Uploading the same images to Pixsy (a tool that tracks image usage across the web).
  3. Waiting for an alert when an image has been used.
  4. Reaching out to the website owner, asking for a link to the product webpage.
Example of an image used in an article, with a backlink to the ecommerce site. 

The result: 30% success rate on backlink requests & 4x increase in organic traffic

Freddie and the team uploaded a total of 15 images, starting in January 2023. Within 2 weeks, they sent out their first outreach email, which resulted in a link. 

Since then, they also saw the following results:

  • 60 new image uses per month, on average.
  • 30% success rate on backlink requests (around 20 links per month, on average).
  • 27% increase in Ahref domain authority score (from 22 to 28).
  • 4x increase in monthly organic traffic (from 8,000 to 32,000) in 6 months. Note that other SEO tactics, such as content creation, were also in play during the same time period, which will also impact these figures.

(Corresponding revenue and sales data is not available, due to the ecommerce brand running out of stock in June 2023 following supplier issues.)

Why does it work?

  • Decent stock images are in short supply. So, if you have great shots to share, people will want to use them.
  • If your images are really good, they can even get boosted by Unsplash in emails and featured sections, which dramatically increases downloads and usage.
  • As it is your own image, the small ask to add a link feels authentic, which stands out in a sea of spammy SEO outreach.

How to implement this tactic yourself

  1. Select your images. High-quality lifestyle shots of your product in use in a real-life situation, or in situ within a wider shot are best. If you have good imagery of your services, office, or digital product that meets the same criteria, this can also work.
  2. Upload your images to Unsplash. You can upload a maximum of 10 images per day, so keep coming back to upload more and build a good volume.
  3. Consider additional distribution channels. For example, product-focused and PR-led sites such as pressloft.com or other Unsplash alternatives.
  4. Add tags and detailed descriptions. This will ensure your images appear in relevant search results.
  5. Upload the same images to an image-tracking tool. Freddie used Pixsy, which pings you when your image has been used anywhere on the web. 
  6. Get alerted when someone uses your image.
  7. Reach out asking for a backlink. But note that you give full usage rights away when you upload to Unsplash. This means that anyone can use them, with no obligation to link back to your site.

Meet the specialist behind this tactic

Freddie Chatt is an SEO Consultant for ecommerce brands. He has over a decade of experience both in-house and working with clients, from startups to global brands.

Follow Freddie on LinkedIn or get his newsletter for more ecommerce SEO tips.

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How Freddie Chatt Increased Backlinks by Uploading Images to Unsplash