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Violating Copyright to Build Links with Pinterest - Northside SEO

6/12/13 UPDATE: This post is now out of date and Pinterest no longer handles embed codes as described below in the article.
I hate to do this, but within the first 10 posts on my new site I’m already writing about Pinterest. Sigh.

I know the whole Pinterest copyright situation is murky, but this link building idea is simply too obvious not to discuss. Pinterest added the ability to embed images from Pinterest onto other websites.

How to Embed Pinterest Images

  1. Find the image you want on Pinterest.
  2. Click it and click on the embed code on the right side.

Source: Uploaded by user via Sam on Pinterest









Viola! I just borrowed your image without asking. I didn’t ask the image owner or the pinner. Pinterest told me it was all good. Why else would they provide an embed code if I wasn’t supposed to embed this image? In this case, I borrowed an image that someone Pinned from Google. Check out the links under the pic, attribution is already messed up.

It gets worse though. Now watch what happens when I Pin this blog post. View my pin here. I simply use the embed code from my new pin and the attribution for this memetastic Spongebob image below now points directly at this post on Northside SEO.


This simple process sets the stage for building some serious links.

How to Build Links Using Pinterest Embed Codes

  1. Find a good blog post or article with no image in it.
  2. Find a good image on Pinterest for that topic.
  3. Embed that image on your blog.
  4. Pin your blog post.
  5. Copy embed code from your new pin.
  6. Contact website owner from Step 1 and offer them your image via Pinterest embed code with a followed link back to your site.
You’re gonna have a really good chance at getting the link. You already know the image is cute, fluffy, funny or whatever else makes a picture Pinworthy. Most bloggers who publish posts without images will be thrilled at the quality of the image and the ease of adding it to their post.


No Fair! That’s My Content!

If you’re a website owner, you may wonder how you can prevent this from happening to you. Clearly, you don’t want people to steal your images and get credit or links from your content.

Pinterest Gives You Two Options For Your Images

  1. Allow your content to be used and abused around the web.
  2. Be anti-social and add their No Pin code snippet to your site (and miss out on traffic and links).


Video sites like YouTube have taught website owners and bloggers that it’s OK to embed content on their site. When presented with an embed code (video, picture, infographic) the natural assumption is that it is fair game for use on your site. The big difference here is, Pinterest is creating the embed codes for content shared on their website by users. Videos and Infographics are uploaded to the web by the actual content producers, and they’ve decide that they are OK with the sharing of their content across the web. To prevent Pinterest sharing your images, you have to opt-out with the code snippet above.

Take a look. People are embedding these Pinterest images all over the place. I’d guess 99% of these people are not checking to see if the image they embed is credited to the original source. They are just finding an image they like and clicking the simple ’embed’ option that Pinterest gives them. Does this make it OK? Probably not. Does this make it unlikely anyone will come after you for copyright violation? Depends on whose image you jacked.

Update: Pinterest released a blog post yesterday stating they are working towards improving attribution. However, nothing has been fixed and the scenario above still works, even with images posted from Flickr.


tl;dr: Embed awesome Pinterest image on your site. Pin your webpage with that image. Contact websites and offer them use of your image for their site via new Pinterest embed code with source link now pointing to your site.


Disclaimer: I have never used this link building technique and I do not recommend using this technique. It could very well get you into trouble with copyright laws. I am not comfortable putting myself at legal risk. Personally, I think most of the blame should fall on Pinterest for even allowing this to happen.


What do you think? Too risky? Not risky at all, this is Genius! White hat, black hat or gray hat (There are no Hats!)? Does it qualify as an alternative or evil way to build links?

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8 Responses to Violating Copyright to Build Links with Pinterest

  1. Ben says:

    I think this is a very serious topic and I’m glad you brought it up. I agree the impetus is clearly on pinterest to figure it all out and square it up with copywrite laws. I’d be interest to hear someone with legal expertise weigh in with their opinion. As one who is not too tech savvy and relies on iStock imagery, I love this new option Pinterest has provided via the embed function. However, I am worried, and have already run into one person who contacted me asking me to take down their image that I pinned and then embedded. From a marketing aspect, you want your content to be found. The problem is the second-level and beyond pinning. When you repin, then embed and post, now you’re getting the attribution. If Pinterest could find a way to maintain that first-level source attribution, problem solved and nobody should cry foul and the free publicity they’re getting from repinned embeds.

  2. Sean says:

    You’re a good egg Anthony :)

  3. Nick LeRoy says:

    This is a smart technique and one that i’m sure will eventually be squashed. It could definitely be used in the short term and work very well im sure.

  4. Jag Firerwalker says:

    Very nice article and I have to say that was actually even more interesting till very recently when their links were do followed. Not saying I have made use of it, but interesting non the less. What I wonder now is if their are going to introduce something like a rel=author tag that will automatically be assigned to the first person who pins it. Understandably, after using something similar to Google alternative image search.

  5. Andy says:

    Now this is the sort of information usually hidden by a long promotional page and an eBook for $29.95 (special offer today only) đŸ˜‰

  6. […] bad: Pinterest members began copying and uploading our photos en masse, so that we were competing with ourselves for image traffic, and third-party websites began using pinned images to make money. Hubpages, where I've had the […]

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