Infographics – They’re still what they used to be and more

Posted by on 17th, Aug, 2012

There’s always lots of talk about whether or not infographics pack the same SEO punch as they did a few years ago. To answer the critics quickly and definitively, I’m going to put my neck on the line and say that they are just as powerful as before; I’d say they’re even more powerful these days because of the advances in online tools and technologies.

Allow me to clarify.

Firstly, and most importantly, people like their time; we all like to know that whatever time we do spend has been spent wisely. None of us want to spend an hour reading through a monster blog post in order to find some information that in actual fact, has no guarantee of even being there. This would be time wasting; and none of us are happy when we waste time.

So wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to transform a hugely boring blog post into a digestible piece of content that’s user-friendly and offers the same amount of information in a much quicker and visually appealing way?

There is; using infographics.

Planning and preparing an infographic

The first stage of any infographic plan is to have a solid strategy. Don’t just create one because everyone else is doing it. You need to have a solid plan in place to give it every possibility of reaching the audience you’re aiming it at. Here is a clever infographic by Samantha Murphy on the Mashable blog; the infographic explains how to build an infographic! Clever? Indeed.

Treat your infographic strategy the same as you would with any other form of marketing. Weigh up the pros and cons. Find out who you want to reach out to. Do some research to find out the type of market that are most likely to be interested in the content. Research what content your own target market are interested in and do all this before you begin to build your infographic.

Let your target market determine what content your infographic shows rather than just doing an infographic for the sake of it and then hoping that your target market sees it.

Do some keyword research using Google suggest or Google Adwords and check the difficulty of these phrases using SEOmoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool to find relevant search queries with low difficulty that pull lots of search and use these as the central focus of your infographic activity.

Now you have a list of potential phrases pulling relevant and regular searches that should be able to realistically achieve ranking positions. Once you have this sorted, you need to do some research to find out statistics that will form the bulk of your infographic data.

Research up-to-date data

The best, and easiest, way to research infographic data is to use statistics that have already been collected. This will save you resources and bags of time. Rather than stealing the stats and claiming them as your own however, it’s common practice (and humane) to reference the source of the data.

You’ll find that upon request, the majority of the original creators of reports will be delighted that you have offered to turn their over-worded, unsightly blog post into a digestible and user-friendly infographic. The outcome is that they’ll get referenced as the source of the data and you’ll get hundreds of links. It’s a no-brainer. And by doing your research beforehand as mentioned earlier, this mass of links should be relevant links that add real value to your link profile.

Use Topsy to dig deeper than this and find the people who commented and Tweeted or Open Site Explorer to see who linked to the original post. If they spent the time to read and comment on the lengthy original post then they’ll (more than likely) jump at the chance to share the new visually appealing version you create.

Use “inurl:.gov” or “inurl:.edu” search queries to find governmental and educational websites that regularly commission expensive surveys and reports. These reports are sat there full of facts and stats just waiting for someone to turn them into an infographic. Be that person; do it yourself!

Search for the keyword you researched and use the inurl: search query. So something like this would be perfect if you wanted to create an infographic about tourism in the UK for instance:

Use blog posts for infographic data and infographic data for blog posts

A good way to multiply the amount of content you create would be to use your blog content to create infographics and use your infographics to create blog content. This means that you can essentially re-use your original content and send it out in a different format. People who prefer to read blog posts can read the blog post and the people who prefer to look at an infographic will read the infographic. Your content is multiplied and your blog sections remain active while your link profiles gain links via the infographics.

Obviously there are duplication issues with online content so you wouldn’t copy the same wordage you used in the infographic otherwise this would be penalised. Use the data and approach the content from a different angle. Add new insights to the piece as you pad it out into word format rather than imagery.

Here is a quick diagram to show what I mean:

As you can see in the image, one small infographic could be broken down and re-purposed to create one medium-length blog post. A medium-length infographic could be broken down and repurposed to create two medium length blog posts and a long(ish) infographic could be re-purposed to create three blog posts.

The same can be said about blog content: If you write a statistical blog post, turn it into an infographic as well and share it. These are all great ways to build lots of content and links.

If you’re using other people’s infographic data to create a blog post, a counter argument or an agreeing point with new insights is usually the best way to approach it; you can approach the same people who originally shared and commented on the infographic. The hard work has been done: the audience is already there.

Marketing the infographic

Neil Patel wrote a great post offering techniques to make your infographic go viral. He mentioned some great points and I feel it accompanies James Agate’s guest post on the iAcquire blog perfectly.

These posts are excellent and offer so much value to your linkbait campaigns thus the bulk of infographic marketing and outreach has been mentioned in these. But what none of them mention however are a couple of little techniques that can avoid you from making costly mistakes.

Tricks of the trade

If you don’t have the time or resources in-house to design your infographic, then it is advised to outsource the work. If you outsource the work, you need to ensure that the work is unique and worth the money that you’re paying before you sign off the design phase.

Using Google’s Visually Similar Image Search you can quickly see if your new, ‘unique’ design is actually a spin-off of someone else’s hard work. It allows you to see if the company you’re paying to create a unique piece are charging for uniqueness but only actually delivering a copy.

It’s quick and simple to do: Just right click the infographic, copy the image URL, click the ‘‘ image on Google images and paste in the image URL. Google will find all the visually similar infographics and show them in a list:

It takes literally about one minute to check and could save you expensive design costs. Do this before you sign off the design and pay for it.

This is a quick way to spare the embarrassment of having a copied infographic out there that receives negative press. What’s more are the added benefits this can have to your link building.

We all know that the reason we create infographics is to gain exposure and acquire links. Using the visually similar image search AFTER your infographic has been published can also increase the number of links you receive from it.

Before you get to all the similar designs, Google will show all the sites with exactly the same design first; more accurately the exact infographic; even more accurately, YOUR infographic.

This is a great way to find the websites that have simply copied and pasted your infographic and used it on their website without embedding the code. Us digital marketers know that if the code is embedded, we get our link. If it’s copied and pasted, we don’t. Often the people who copy and paste the infographic do it without realising and a quick (polite) email highlighting the matter usually results in an apology on their behalf and the infographic being embedded within their site rather than copied and pasted.

This is link-building from the people you know already like the infographic. Deciding not to gain a link from these type of people at the expense of a small email would be ludicrous, especially when you know that they value the content enough to have already shared it with their audience once before. Get them to embed the piece and get the link!

We’ve even seen strong industry relationships forged from this polite interaction, so make sure upon publishing your infographic that you get the links you deserve.

Conclusion

So, from here you should know the benefits of infographics as a commodity for SEO, you should know how to research the topic, what target market you’re aiming the infographic at and where they congregate. You should know why infographics are worth the time spent to produce and how to market them effectively.

You now also have a few inside tips which should help you draw the most value from your infographic and avoid you being accused of plagiarism.

Let me know if this post helped you with your infographic activity. New techniques are always welcome as after all, some things work better for other people…

I’d love to hear your views.

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Adam Veitch

Posted By Adam Veitch

Adam is our Project Manager - responsible for day-to-day client communication and seamless project delivery. Follow him on Twitter @adamveitch_tone or on Google+ Adam Veitch