A Picture is Worth a Thousand Links

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Links Featured Image

Infographics might be a relatively recent trend in the world of online content – you can thank the visual nature of social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest for that – but they have actually been around for hundreds of years. Only these days, beyond just being a clever way to present interesting facts and explore complex concepts, infographics play a valuable role in driving traffic to your website, getting more links and boosting your SEO performance.

In case you’ve been hiding out in a cabin in the woods for the last two years and haven’t caught up with the infographic trend, in the simplest terms, an infographic is a visual explanation of a topic or concept. An infographic covering food trends in different cities, for example, might use a map of the U.S. as a backdrop, with photos of each type of food superimposed over the state where it’s most popular. Often infographics are used to simplify complex topics, or to present a large amount of statistical data in an easily digestible format.

A well-designed infographic will attract links from other websites. Because search engines use “link popularity” as one of the factors in evaluating and ranking websites for search results, the more links you have — and the better the quality of those links — the better your search result rankings. Therefore, great infographics should be part of your link-building and SEO strategies.

What Makes an Infographic Effective?

Before you start throwing together infographics in hopes of attracting links, it’s important to understand what goes into making a great infographic. For that, we’ll dissect an infographic that works and how it can serve as a model for how you approach the creation of your own graphics.

USAID InfographicThe graphic on the right was created by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The topic itself isn’t all that “sexy” — it deals with how mobile phone technology is reshaping the developing world — but the way the information is presented makes it more compelling. For our purposes, we’re focused on the design and presentation of the graphic, not so much the content.

The USAID infographic meets all of the requirements of a great infographic:

  • It makes a complex topic easy to understand.
  • It presents a LOT of information in an easy-to-digest format.
  • It’s attractive and easy to read.
  • The sources are cited, for easy follow up and more information.

In short, someone without in-depth knowledge of mobile technology in the developing world can read this infographic and gain a wealth of information in just a few minutes. By combining images and text, the designer and author have effectively shown the myriad ways mobile phones are improving people’s lives; the dominant image of a human silhouette in the center of the graphic immediately draws your attention to the surrounding information in a way that simple blocks of text wouldn’t.

In fact, it is the design elements of infographics that make them so appealing to readers. Infographics can take non-sexy topics and jazz them up, making them interesting. Sure, you could write an article or blog post containing the same information, but in today’s information-saturated world, a bite-sized, easy-to-read infographic is going to get a lot more attention.

Now for the Easy Part

Creating great infographics isn’t easy. Anyone who says it is hasn’t made one. Not only do you need a great idea that speaks to your audience, you need to find a way to convert it to a visual format and then work with a professional graphic designer to design an infographic that is attractive and accessible.

If you accomplish all of that, though, the good news is that promoting your infographic and enhancing its link-building potential is a bit easier. Some of the ways you can attract links include:

  • Include an HTML embed code on the same page as the graphic on your site. Other site owners can quickly grab this code (which includes a citation that leads back to your site, of course) and place your graphic on their site. As a bonus, offering great infographics helps build your authority and credibility which, you guessed it, improves your ranking and drives traffic.
  • Make it easy to share. Add social sharing buttons for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.
  • Promote the graphic through your sources. Include it in your email newsletter, post it on your social networks and link to it from the home page of your website. Reach out to bloggers and offer it to them in exchange for a link. If the information is truly groundbreaking, send out a press release or contact media and offer your infographic and some additional insights for any pieces they are working on.
  • Turn it into a video. Don’t overlook the SEO value of YouTube and other video sharing sites. By reformatting the infographic into a storyboard sequence, you can capitalize on the broad reach of those sites.
  • Consider creating additional versions of the graphic in multiple languages, especially if you have an international audience.
  • Don’t ignore keywords. Including certain keywords and search phrases naturally throughout your infographic will drive search traffic – and increase the likelihood of links.

While most people who use your graphic will credit your work, there’s never a guarantee that other site owners will do the right thing. Be sure to include some type of branding or identification within the graphic itself, such as a logo and website URL. This way, even if another owner embeds your graphic without giving you credit, their site visitors will know where it originally came from — and may even seek you out on their own.

Designing effective infographics isn’t always easy and requires a significant investment of time and effort. But from a link-building and SEO perspective, it’s a worthwhile one.

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