How to get free backlinks when people copy your images

This is a little strategy I have been using lately, and it works quite well. In fact, it is probably one of the fastest ways to build high authority free backlinks I have seen yet to date. And I am talking about when people copy your images.

As you know on this blog almost 95% of the images, including the featured image you see above, are created by me. This means I don’t want people using them, as I have put a lot of work into creating them. Check out this trick I use below to get a backlink whenever someone copies one of my images.

How to get free backlinks for your images

Nobody likes a copycat. But in fact most of the time when someone copies your images it is most likely because they are lazy, or didn’t actually know they shouldn’t do it. When I used to work for an SEO agency, I have seen entire websites copied word for word, and after emailing the owner they were totally surprised and thought it was fine. Mind-boggling yes, but be polite and don’t assume they are stealing. They might not know any better.

With that being said, there are also many people who do know they are copying and are just too lazy to give proper attribution.

How to find people copying your images

There are a couple of different ways to find people copying your images.

1. Buzzsumo and Ahrefs

I use tools like Buzzsumo and Ahrefs constantly for backlink building.

ahrefs buzzsumo
Ahrefs and Buzzsumo

I have a list of searches I perform on a regular basis, and even saved within the tools for notifications. Whenever anyone on the internet posts something in my niche or topic, I want to see it as it could be a potential backlink outreach. The funny thing is, I see a lot of copycats this way too. I have seen people copy my entire blog posts, or someone just copies and uses my featured image. This is how I find people copying my images probably 85% of the time, just in my weekly routine.

2. TinEye

If you don’t have access to those tools above you can use a free tool like TinEye. Simply upload an image or input the image URL, and it will scan its database of over 14.6 billion images. They even have a Chrome extension in which you can simply right-click on an image and scan at any time. The free version allows you to check up to 50 searches per day, and 150 per week. That should be plenty.

tineye find images

Here is an example from the featured image used on my Cache Enabler post on this site. I ran it through the TinEye tool, and you can see it found the same image being used on my personal, site, which it is. It has the page link so you can click directly to the page/post that is using your image.

copied image
TinEye match

What to do

OK, so now that you have found someone copying your images, what should you do next? This is what I do. I figure, yes I put a lot of time into the image, but maybe instead I should ask for a backlink in return. Here is the email template I used just earlier today.

Email template

Hey Anonymous,

I work for _ and I noticed you used one of my images in your article here: [link to their post]

You can see that I am the owner of the image here: [link to your original post]

I am ok if you use my image if you give me a link back. Please add link to [term/phrase] in your article to  [link on your site].

99% of the time there should be a good [term/phrase] in their article or anchor text in which would make a useful backlink. Because if they are using your image most likely the article is the exact same topic/niche your post was to begin with.

Response from owner

And this was the response I got from the owner of the site.

Hi Brian,

I had the link added to the post, however I am always concerned to see an author has used an image seemingly without permission or without attribution.

Let me know if the link is approval to leave the image in the post.



As you can see the owner of the site had guest bloggers/writers and didn’t even know about it. He was very polite and happy to comply. He added a backlink for me within an hour of me emailing him.

My response

And here was my response.

Thank you Anonymous for your fast response.

Yes, it is completely fine now. I appreciate you adding the link. I spend a lot of time creating those images and so it is only fair if I get something in return.

I will help share the article :)

Have a great rest of the week.


I like to keep things casual and polite throughout the process.

All in all, I spent about 10 minutes and got a dofollow backlink with Domain Authority of 42!

This technique works probably 95% of the time, which is a higher conversion rate than any other backlink outreach you could possibly do. Funny how if you catch a website owner in the wrong, they are very quick to correct their mistake.

So the next time you find your image floating around the web, instead of simply asking for removal, take advantage of it and go for the free backlinks. It’s an easy win! And maybe your website or blog isn’t at that point yet where people are copying you. Just bookmark this post because it is bound to happen to you eventually, I promise.

If the owner of a website isn’t cooperative, that is the time you might have to file a DMCA complaint to get them to take the content down. Hosting providers take DMCA requests very seriously.

And don’t forget about SEO image optimization on your posts. According to Raven Tools, 78% of SEO issues are related to images. Time and time again I see website owners not properly optimizing their images, and it is very frustrating as it is probably one of the easiest ways to see quick gains. The image file name, alt tags, image load time, etc. should all be taken into consideration.

Was this post helpful? If so I would love to hear your thoughts below.

author bio
Brian Jackson

I craft actionable content and develop performance-driven WordPress plugins. Connect on X, subscribe to my newsletter (once a month), or buy me coffee.

12 thoughts on “How to get free backlinks when people copy your images”

    • Thanks Nathan! I have been demanding people remove copied images for years, missed out on so many backlinks :) This strategy has been working really good for me lately.

  1. Useful in some niches I’m sure, but in affiliates the person is likely a direct competitor and is fully aware that they stole the image, lazy and will just delete an approach for a link, so what do you do in that situation?

  2. Hi Brian,
    Wonderful post on how to find do-follow backlinks. Can you please tell me is there any tool to find dofollow backlinks sites in google SERPS and what should be an ideal strategy to build dofollow backlinks in present scenario.

    • In my opinion, Ahrefs is the best tool on the market if you are trying to analyze dofollow backlink profiles. Buzzsumo can also be very useful in finding popular content which can also directly relate to backlinks if you reach out to the authors of those posts.

  3. Amazing!

    That’s a cool little trick to earn some good backlinks. I guess it will work best with infographics as many bloggers like to post infographics on their blog and sometimes they may fail to link.

    Thanks for sharing Brian.


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