Another day, another infographic – at least that’s how it seems. In the last couple of years, these amazing pieces of content have become power tools for delivering a visual punch. Just consider the following stats from an Unbounce post on why infographics make great marketing tools:
- There’s been an 800% increase in Google searches for infographics between 2010 and 2012.
- 90% of the information coming into the brain is visual, making a visual tool a winner in attracting attention.
- Infographics generally add up to a 12% increase in traffic for those who use them.
All of these add up to compelling reasons infographics are an excellent link building and content marketing tool. Not only are they a great way to tell a story, but they are colorful and deliver a lot of information fast, making them eminently shareable. How can you ride the infographic wave for excellent link-building? Here’s our in-depth guide.
Step 1: The Data
Infographics stand or fall on solid data – check out the best, most shared ones and you will see what I mean. It’s not just a question of creating a couple of cool images. While some people get hung up on the ‘graphic’ part, the ‘info’ part is even more important. Sharon Hurley Hall, writer for Unbounce, points out:
“As a reader, there’s nothing worse than looking at an infographic with a nice collection of facts and figures then scrolling to the bottom and finding out that the data was from 10 years ago. “
Your infographic data needs to be up to date, relevant and useful. Luckily, finding good data isn’t that hard. You can choose from:
- Authority resources in your niche
- Research firms like Pew, Gartner, econsultancy and others who publish studies in a wide range of fields
- Statistics sites from the governmental agencies, global bodies and NGOs
- Other publicly available data.
There’s an excellent list of infographic information resources on DailyTekk – it’s a great starting point for doing your research.
You can also do your own research, but you’ll have to do it right. No-one cares if you asked your neighbors for their opinion on an issue, but if you asked 1,000 people in-depth questions via an online survey, then that’s different. If you want to create your own data, then you’ll need a key topic, to formulate some questions and to formulate a survey, using a tool like SurveyMonkey, Wufoo or Google Forms. If you’re short of time, consider getting a service like TaskBullet to do the research for you.
Step 2: The Graphics
The next step is where you turn all that research into something people want to look at – the ‘graphic’ part of our infographic. Decide on the visuals that will deliver the information. These will usually include:
- Charts and graphs (called data visualization)
- Icons and vector art.
- Clean photos and illustrations
- And occasionally – animations, as in the example below from Jacob O’Neal’s site:
All of these should work together to help highlight the main points of your data. Things you need to think about include:
- Select the first image with care – it’s like a visual headline for your infographic and could be a major factor in whether people look at the whole graphic and whether they share it. No shares equals no links so you have to get it right.
- Make sure the flow of images tells a story. Nicola Byrne of SavvySexySocial suggests storyboarding your infographic, just as filmmakers do with movies and TV shows.
- Keep the design simple but harmonious. This means using different backgrounds to separate different areas of data and using the same format for charts and graphs. And if you put funny facts in circular boxes in one section, don’t change the type of box in another. It may be subtle but readers will notice.
- Think about what colors look good together, using these color palette resources.
- Guide the reader among the different sections using colors, shapes, lines and arrows.
One way to figure out what works design-wise is to seek inspiration from existing infographics. Check out the examples right here on Piktochart Showcase, Visual.ly or search Pinterest for a wealth of examples.
Step 3: The Writing
You have data and you have images, but these don’t tell the full story yet. There may not be a lot of words on an infographic, but every one counts. You need the right words to:
- Create headings and subheadings for infographic sections
- Highlight interesting facts
- Call out and caption data
A good example of words at work is in this social media infographic from Marketing Profs.
As usual, the key piece of writing is the title of your infographic – this is what will make people click. But you have to give the same care for the titles of the different sub-sections and even the captions. If people are interested, they will read everything. As Jayson DeMers says on Search Engine Journal, your guiding principle is “what’s the story I’m really telling here?” For best results, keep it simple, straightforward and concise, drawing out the most interesting points. You’ll know if the writing works if your infographic can still tell a story without the images (it seems strange, but it works).
A Narrative for Your Infographic
There’s more writing to do, too. You need to create a bigger narrative to go with your infographic. This might cover:
- Why you decided to research the topic
- What key data you found
- What your conclusions were
- What the next steps or challenges are
The reason to do this is to give the infographic some context and provide some discussion points for those who share it. For best results, publish this on your blog along with the infographic and include social sharing buttons so people can give the post some social media love. Here’s a humorous one highlighted on the Piktochart blog.
Step 4: Sharing Your Infographic
When you write that post, or even if you just upload the infographic alone, a key point is to include the embed code that makes it easy for people to post the infographic on their own site. This is how you build links back to your original post or your site.
7 Ways to Share Your Infographic
- Submitting your infographic to an infographic directory – Wow Internet lists 43 free ones. You’ll need that embed code and a short description. (Quicksprout recommends 150-300 words).
- Writing an optimized press release with a link back to your infographic blog post. Not only will this get the word out, but it’s good for SEO, building links from PRWeb and others, and anywhere that republishes your release.
- Sharing your infographic via social media, using relevant hashtags to make it easier to find (including #infographic, of course). When sharing, don’t forget Pinterest and Reddit, both of which have huge collections of infographics.
- Offer it for publication to authoritative blogs and sites in your niche (or upload it to a site like MyBlogGuest which has an infographics guest posting section).
- Extract key pieces of data and use them for other posts or social media updates.
- Contact the research sources cited in your infographic and let them know about it – they will probably be glad to share and this will bring you authoritative inbound links.
- Submit it to image directories, suggests Quicksprout, for more link juice.
Step 5: Tracking and Follow-Up
Once you have shared your infographic everywhere, it’s time to check on how successful it has been. Set up tracking for your infographic landing page in your analytics software and keep a check on where your traffic is coming from and who’s referring people to your site.
If you’re not getting the results you expect, then check that it passes the quality test. See how it measures up against Kissmetrics’ list of 19 Warning Signs that your Infographic Stinks.
It’s also worth looking at your backlink data in Google Webmaster Tools to see if there’s any increase in links from authority sites. Monitor the coverage you have got to get ideas for new infographics and then you can start the whole process all over again.
Chris Kilbourn is the CEO and lead growth strategist at TOFU Marketing. In past lives, he was a professional rockstar (seriously), and he built and scaled 3 successful companies from the ground up. You can request a free consultation with him here.