How To Trick Bloggers Into Linking To You

How do you get someone to link to you AND apologize for not doing it sooner?

I have some thoughts on that…

The Background

A while back I published a post on Blog World about building a community of fanatics. I used Harley Davidson as a model community, and the post featured a photo of a bike rally.

I sourced the image by searching Google Images, found one with some bikers in it, and used it.

Turns out, the person who took the photo happened upon it and said something. Here’s the exchange.

So far, this is a pretty normal exchange, assuming Bruce (the person who took the photo) did in fact take the photo.

I have no reason to doubt that Bruce did in fact snap the picture I used for the post. And since we’re talking so much about it, here’s the picture in question.

photo credit

Here’s the Idea

Since it’s pretty much impossible to verify and prove who took what picture. And since Google certainly doesn’t make any bones about using pictures without accreditation, you could trick people into linking to you AND get them to apologize for not doing it sooner.

It would look something like this:

  1. Find a blog related to your topic
  2. Make sure the image they used in a blog post is ambiguous in origin
  3. Use the same image in your post that’s similar in subject
  4. Contact the blogger and tell them you are the rightful author of the image
  5. Wait for the blogger to do the right thing (link back to you)
  6. Repeat over and over again
  7. Enjoy your new found high ranking in search results

What Kinda Hat You’re Wearing?

This is totally black hat. But would it work?

This is fairly labor intensive, but it could result in some really high quality, relevant linkbacks.

I would never do this of course, because I’m a nice boy. But it will make me check twice if someone contacts me asking me to link to their image because they’re the “rightful owner”.

Of course, this drudges up issues of “copyright”, and IP, and god knows what else.

It’s a complex issue, and I guarantee whichever side you take, I can come up with a totally valid yet opposing argument.

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi :-)

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  • Isaac

    Google does say in images search results that “Images may be subject to copyright.”
    and you can always ask the site onwer you took the picture from if it’s one he/she took. next time you can find someone who’s not that kind and you’ll be sued, wouldn’t recommend doing so…

  • http://twitter.com/pnventerprises pnventerprises

    Clearly we all want links to our websites and bligs, but this is definitely a blackhat approach that I don’t think should be used. There’s potential for legal problems. Better way to get links is to have great content that is useful to others in your target market. Just sayin’.

  • StartYourNovel

    Yeah, I don’t know, Dino. Very black hat indeed. #4… No, I’m usually behind you on everything, but not this. As a photographer, your suggestion makes me seriously uncomfortable.

    • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

      hey JB :-)

      I wouldnt do this in a million years. But it could be done to us. I figured little exposure might act as a good disinfectant :-)

  • http://twitter.com/LoveStats Annie Pettit

    how about just stick to images where you know there are no copyright issues. google gives you that option, wordpress does too, and morguefile is always a good place to go. No need to use trickery.

    • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

      Hi Annie,

      I’m a blogger. I do my stuff on the open. The post is meant to make other bloggers aware of such trickery.

  • http://just-ask-kim.com/ Kimberly Castleberry

    Dino, in that screenshot above, is that seriously your reply? Admitting that you openly help yourself to others property which you know is likely protected. You really should be a step above that man. Pretty disappointing. Of course there is the black hat case you mention – and kudos to you for calling attention to those who are abusing that… but it doesn’t make your own choice to not credit creators or use known fair-to-use images any better if that dialog is actually from your own reply.
    Kim

  • http://triberr.com Dino Dogan

    Hi Kim,

    I’d love to credit the rightful author, but how do I know who really took the picture?

    Of course, there are repositories where the image has the proper author and what not, but we’re all busy. We cant expect an average person to spent time researching the proper attribution. Google certainly doesnt.

  • http://selfishmom.com/ Amy

    I think you’re ignoring a bigger point. Using a picture that you don’t have permission to use is just not OK. Not even a little bit.

    • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

      I agree with you, Amy.

      Google is doing it however. And black hat SEOs could use the process above against us to exploit the exact sentiment you expressed.

      • http://selfishmom.com/ Amy

        I don’t care about the black hat part. People are always going to do shitty things behind the scenes to get ahead. But I want to be clear: You’re very openly stating that since google is linking to the images in a search, it’s perfectly OK for you post them in a post, without asking permission, without giving credit, without doing anything unless someone happens to call you on it?

        • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn Nicander Mohr

          I agree, Amy. This is not okay, Google is using the images as a search engine, not for content.

          Using someone’s photo without their permission isn’t okay. Claiming ownership over something that isn’t yours isn’t okay. Getting backlinks dishonestly isn’t okay.

          I’m glad you wouldn’t do this, Dino. Reputation is hard earned and easily lost.

          • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

            Hi Carolyn,

            You know I love you right? And you know you and I see eye to eye on most things, right? Here’s the hammer then :-)

            Google IS using images as content. The search results ARE google’s content. Not only that but google has monetized YOUR content by serving ads next to those search results.

            Thats how I see that :-)

          • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn Nicander Mohr

            Love you too, Dino. Good point about Google. But a search engine couldn’t function if it had to get permission to display images.

            Maybe someday we can chat about this over a beer. Interesting issue!

          • U. Slacker

            Every website owner has the ability to block search engines from using their images. And it isn’t the search engines we have to worry about (as a search for images will bring traffic to your site as it is intended to do) it is the search engine users like you that think it is ok to grab any image they want on the web (via a search or otherwise) to use on their website or blog. That sir is what’s SO WRONG about this whole thing. Trying to blame Google is like trying to blame the scanner for the folks that steal images out of books! If it is published to the web it is copyrighted material. PERIOD.

          • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

            Most people in most situations will take the default option. So most sites are not blocking google.

            One of the greatest tricks google ever pulled is to convince people to think it’s ok to “index” the images. For that I admire google.

            And it’s funny you brought up scanning. Isn’t that exactly what google did to start their book project? He asked facetiously knowing full well they did :-)

            Also, you’re missing the point, dude. I’m a blogger. This was a cautionary tale written as an instructional manual…only because that gets more attention.

            Furthermore, copyright is a device invented by publishing systems to protect itself, NOT the author.

            It seams we disagree on few fundamental philosophical points and thats fine. I thank you for sharing your opinions, my friend :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/SeeleyJamesAuth Seeley James

    Wow. Interesting set of ethics you have. If you don’t know who it belongs to, stealing is OK? Does that work for stealing cars as well? How about homes? As long as I don’t bother to find out who owns your home, is it OK for me to move in?

    • http://twitter.com/dinodogan Dino Dogan

      dude…way to miss the point.