A Guide to Using Reverse Image Searches for SEO

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By Boris Dzhingarov

Images are essential for SEO and specifically content marketing. To ensure readability, SEOs use images to break up content and add additional contextual details to their posts and pages. SEOs also use images to help people find their content when they search for a similar image to one they already have. Image-based search engines contribute to a significant portion of online searches and thus cannot be ignored. Understanding all this, have you ever considered using reverse image search to support your SEO efforts? If you have not and do not know how, this article will provide you with everything you need to know about using reverse image searches for SEO.

What is a Reverse Image Search?

Most people are familiar with a Google search or even a Google image search. This is where you use keywords to search for relevant ranked content and images respectively. When you search for a keyword or phrase in a search engine, you will see an images tab that will take you from the usual textual results to image results.

Reverse image searches reverse this process. Instead of using a phrase or keyword to find relevant images, you use an image to search for other images.

Google is surprisingly good at giving you additional information about image results. These include the size of the image, its file type, the page the image is found on, related images, pages that have similar images, similar images, and other sizes of the same image.

Reverse Image Search Use Cases

Before we dive deeper into using reverse image searches for SEO, it is important to consider some cases where it can be beneficial for you.

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One issue Google and other search engines have taken seriously over the past five years or so is duplicate content. Google will penalize content it thinks is copied or stolen from other websites, and that includes images.

You can use reverse image searches to find out if someone else is using your images on their website. If they are, this could be a serious issue for you as search engines might penalize you for duplicate or plagiarized content.

The other use case is during link building. If you find interesting and relevant images, you can use this functionality to find the source. You can then get in touch with the original poster for a backlink if you have content that would go well with the image in mind.

When doing so, check the rest of the content on the page to ensure the backlink is relevant to both of them.

Original Images and Graphics with Data

Creating content that includes a lot of data is quite challenging, especially for people who do not know how to source or analyze this data. Sadly, many of these people take graphics that contain data that fits their narrative and use them on their websites.

Most of these people are not trying to steal your content; they are just using it to make a point. But since you have put in the hard work to make this content, it would be great to get recognized for it. While you can place a link within the body of the graphics, proper attribution and even a link back to your website would be better.

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Website owners who create graphs, charts, and infographics are disproportionately affected by this. They can use reverse image searches to find out where their graphics are being used. They can then ask for credit for their work. Doing so can increase your authority and even earn you a backlink in the process.

Using Reverse Image Search on Search Engines

Now that you know how these types of searches can improve your SEO by helping with link building and authority, how do you go about doing these searches? The two best ways are using the tools provided by search engines and tools provided by third parties.

Google is the biggest search engine, so let’s start there. Their reverse image search tool is straightforward to use. You will need the image or images you want to search for and to visit the Google Image website.

Next, click on the camera icon which will give you an interface for uploading your image. Google does not allow you to search for multiple images at once and will only search for the first image if you select more than one.

Reverse image searches work the same for other search engines like Bing and Yandex, although the wording on both might be different.

This process can yield great results, but the downside is that it will also include your website in the results. This can also result in many duplicate results as you might have an image of different sizes for the thumbnail, featured image, and so on, and all these are considered distinct images.

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Using Reverse Image Search Tools

There are purpose-built reverse image search tools available, many of them aimed at helping you with your link-building efforts. A major advantage tools like Image Prospector have over search engine tools is that they allow you to upload multiple images and search for all of them at the same time.

Also, these tools often have pre-written emails ready for you. These are provided to make it easier for SEOs to get in touch with website owners regarding linking back to your website or for attribution.

When to Use This Strategy and When Not to

At first, it might seem that it would be a good idea to follow every link and website to find out where your images are being used without permission, attribution, and a link to your website or original content. While doing so can help you increase backlinks, think about what you stand to lose.

SEO is about ensuring all your strategies work in harmony and if you focus on one area, others might suffer. Not all websites are worth your time. Some sites have more authority, meaning backlinks from them would be great. Others do not fit these criteria and so there is no need to follow up with them.

Reverse image searches can be great for helping you find out where your content is being used without permission so you can get in touch with the website owner. You might want them to take an image down, or to attribute it properly so you get credit for it. Either outcome is great for your ranking.