February 22, 2016
Ann Smarty seems to be one of the first SEOs out there to coin the term “reverse image search.” It’s not something many businesses were familiar with (ours included), but once you learn how reverse search works and why it matters it’s hard to believe it wasn’t a prominent strategy all along. In short, the strategy allows you to “track all instances of an image across the web,” which is not only great for marketers but also for readers looking to learn more. Consider how it works below.
For most businesses reverse image search will most likely be done on Google (although there are other tools out there, which we’ll get to in the next section). When you go to Google, simply search by image instead of text. You can do this by clicking “Images” in the right hand corner of your Google page, which will then change the search bar to search only for images. You can see a screenshot below of how it works:
You can then start typing in a search query to get pulled to a page of Google image results, or you can click a small camera that will pop up on the search bar and actually upload your own image, as shown below:
If you’re looking at an image in your browser, for example an image you used in a blog post you published and are viewing, you can also right click and select “Search Google For This Image,” as shown in the screenshot below:
Regardless of how you search for your image, you will have the same results—a results page full of images where that image is shown on the web. This not only includes where the image is found online, but also the size as well as images that are similar.
So of course understanding how it works doesn’t mean much if you don’t know why it matters, but there are actually several different ways that this can be beneficial for your business if you know what to look for and what to analyze as you search. Consider the top there ways you can use this strategy as a marketer below:
This is probably the number one way that marketers are using this trick. If you’re ever concerned that someone is stealing your images, or worse stealing your content, you can check to see where else your original images are appearing online. This is often easier and quicker to accomplish than searching for duplicate content.
Smarty adds that aside from just seeing if people are stealing your images, it’s also a good way to make sure that you are not duplicating images without even realizing it. If someone sends you an article to publish on your blog, always use reverse image search to see if they duplicated that image from somewhere else. If they did, dig deeper to make sure that the content isn’t also duplicated.
On the flip side of the last point, this is also a great way to find the original source of an image if you hope to use it in one of your articles. All too often another website will get a link back in a company’s article (for example your article) because the author (you) assumed the image belonged to that company (which it did not). Unfortunately, it’s not usually an accident that a website steals an image from another website and then claims it as their own in order to “earn” natural links. If this happens, it means that you would be giving an undeserving link to the wrong business.
As the author of your company’s post, it’s your job to give credit where credit is due. Find the original source of that image and make sure you link back to that source and not the source that stole it. If you really want to go above and beyond, you can even tip off the original image owner of what you’ve found, which brings us to our next point.
On that note, this is also a great way to see who is linking to your images and potentially not giving you credit. It will help you discover articles (side note: this research option is another great benefit of reverse image search) where your image or screenshots are used. Simply click on the article to see if there is any link back to your original post with that image, and if not then reach out and ask for credit.
This is a great option when it comes to infographics as well because you generally want people to re-post; however it’s tough to know if you’re ever really getting the backlinks that you deserve.
Reverse image search is likely not a strategy you will make a part of your everyday routine, but it’s an excellent trick to keep in your back pocket whenever you think someone may be sending you a stolen image or if you have an infographic you think should be getting more traction. It’s easy and quick to use, so next time you’re reading one of your articles do a quick search to see if you’re missing any well-deserved backlinks.
In addition to Google, you can also use other tools to come up with some of these same results and conclusions, which you can learn more about from Ann Smarty here.
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