Infographics are amazing!
Besides being one of the best ways to explain a complicated topic with ease, they make information come alive.
people following directions with text and illustrations do 323 percent better than people following directions without illustrations.
Maybe that’s why “infographics are ‘liked’ and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content.”
And the concept of relaying information through visuals is nothing new.
If you think about it, cave paintings and hieroglyphics dating back to 30,000 BC accomplished the same thing.
They were far less sophisticated but demonstrate just how hard-wired we are when it comes to visual information.
So it’s easy to see why infographics have become so ingrained in content marketing.
Unbounce even went so far as to say “infographics are the most powerful tool in your content marketing arsenal.”
And like with any piece of content you create, you’ll want it to be SEO friendly.
But here’s the thing.
Doing SEO for an infographic demands a slightly different approach than the one you would use for a conventional blog post.
In this post, I explain the most vital components of infographic SEO to ensure yours gets proper visibility in the SERPs.
The biggest hurdle
Let me start by saying infographics are technically just images.
They are typically saved in image formats such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, etc.
Of course, they’re much more robust and contain far more information than a regular image, but that’s how Google views them.
This is important to know because Google can’t “read” images like it can text-based content such as a blog post.
Fortunately, there are several other elements that you can optimize.
Start with keyword research
You won’t be able to take advantage of keywords in the actual body of an infographic, but there are a few areas where you can insert keywords.
That’s why you’ll still want to do some keyword research to identify a primary keyword phrase as well as a couple of secondary phrases to target.
Let’s say I was planning on creating an infographic about productivity hacks.
A quick search on the Google Keyword Planner shows me that “productivity hacks” is low competition, which is good.
The only issue is that it’s a short-tail keyword with only two words.
But I could still probably make it work, especially if I added “infographic” to the end of “productivity hacks.”
In terms of secondary keywords, there are a few possibilities.
The bottom line here is to perform keyword research like you would for any other type of content.
The only difference is how you go about inserting those keywords.
Selecting the right file name is vital.
This is one of the main factors that Google will analyze to determine what your infographic content is about.
You need to get it right.
I shouldn’t even have to say this, but you’ll obviously want to stay away from anything generic like Image001.png.
This tells Google absolutely nothing and is going to be a strike against your infographic SEO.
A better choice would be something like productivity-hacks-infographic.png.
It’s short and sweet and lets Google know exactly what your content is about.
Just make sure you’re not doing any keyword stuffing, using the same phrase multiple times or anything else that’s spammy.
But you already know that.
Equally important is your alt text.
This is the text alternative of an image that lets someone know what an image contains in the event that it doesn’t load properly.
Screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out this text and thus make your image accessible.
More importantly, this gives you another opportunity to explain to Google what’s in your infographic.
Just follow best practices for your alt text and describe as succinctly as possible what your infographic is about.
In this case, I might want to use “Infographic explaining 15 productivity hacks.”
Your URL is important for obvious reasons.
As I mentioned in a post from NeilPatel.com that referenced Google’s top 200 ranking factors from Backlinko, when it comes to the significance of URLs, here is what we know:
- URL length is listed as #46
- URL path is listed as #47
- Keyword in the URL is #51
- URL string is #52
I’m not going to cover the nuts and bolts of URL optimization here.
You can find that in the post I just mentioned.
But I will tell you that you want to aim for a short URL that contains three to five words and a max of 60 characters.
This advice comes directly from an interview with Matt Cutts, so you know it’s gold.
When it comes to keywords, be sure to include one or two of them in your URL.
Research from John Lincoln and Brian Dean found that this is the sweet spot and considered as part of URL keyword best practices (at least for the time being).
Although you can’t capitalize on the H1 tags (or H2s, H3s, etc.) in the body of your infographic, you can still place one above your infographic so Google can “read” it.
Here’s an example:
See how the same keyword phrase that’s in the actual infographic is used as an H1 tag at the top?
This is a simple yet effective way to give your infographic a bit more SEO juice.
While H1s may not be as big of a ranking factor today as they were a few years ago, they certainly don’t hurt.
And they can be especially helpful for infographics where you have a limited amount of text to work with.
Ah, the good ol’ meta description.
Here are a few best practices to adhere to when creating one for your infographic.
- It should be between 135 and 160 characters in length.
- It should include your keyword phrase (once).
- It should accurately describe the content within your infographic.
- It should have a CTA at the end to encourage search engine users to click on your content.
Getting it just right should make your infographic go further with Google and help you rake in more organic traffic.
For more on creating a killer meta description, I recommend reading this post from Yoast.
I really like hacks, shortcuts, loopholes, etc.
Call them what you will, little tricks like these are what help you gain the edge on the competition.
And there’s one specific hack I would like to point out in regards to infographic SEO.
It’s simple. Add some supporting text at the beginning.
Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about:
Notice that it’s nothing fancy.
It’s just a few paragraphs that expound upon the infographic and offer a quick preview of what it’s about.
This is helpful for two reasons.
First, it provides a brief description for human visitors, which should hopefully pique their interest and make them want to check out the infographic.
Second (and more importantly), it supplies Google with additional text to crawl and decipher meaning from.
This helps your infographic get found and increases the likelihood that it’s indexed under the right keywords.
So it’s a win-win situation.
There’s no reason to go overboard and write 1,000 words of supporting text, but 100 words or so can be a great help.
An added plus is that you can throw in a couple of internal links to relevant pages on your website.
Don’t force it, but try to work in some internal links as well.
Back in 2010, Google announced that page speed was a ranking factor.
Content that loads quickly will get preference.
Not only that, a faster load time tends to translate into a lower bounce rate, more time spent on your site and so on.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you should be conscious of how long it takes your infographic to load.
Keep in mind that infographics are fairly bulky images, so this can definitely be a concern.
Generally speaking, PNGs, GIFs, JPEGs, BMPs and TIFFs load the fastest, so keep this in mind when choosing a file format.
You can also test the loading speed of your infographic with this free tool.
Just type in the URL.
Then click “Analyze.”
Google will analyze it and grade it.
If there are any issues, Google will provide you with specific advice for speeding it up.
Doing SEO for an infographic isn’t dramatically different from doing SEO for any other type of content.
It incorporates many of the same techniques and strategies.
The main thing you have to work around is the fact that an infographic is an image and therefore Google can’t “read” it like it can regular text-based content.
Fortunately, there are several ways to get around this and ensure your infographic is perfectly optimized for search engines as well as humans.
By covering all the bases, you’ll position it to climb the rankings and achieve maximum visibility in the SERPs.
Do you have any other recommendations for doing SEO for an infographic?
If you use the Google app on your mobile device, you may already be aware of Google’s recent addition of a newsfeed, a Facebook-y, portal-like feature that allows would-be searchers to skip the search completely and dive right into new content relevant to their interests (based on their past searches as well as topics they opt into, plus Google’s now ever-present machine learning algos).
If you’re Mark Irvine, this feature makes you very nervous:
Well, prepare to get even nervouser. Google just announced that “the feed” will soon extend beyond the mobile app to appear on Google’s homepage across devices.
Outside of sounding like a low-budget horror flick, and G apparently thinking its user base is comprised solely of Brooklynite neckbeards (“Whether you’re a pet-loving, Nietzsche-reading, sports fanatic; a hip-hop head and burgeoning brewmaster; or anything in between, your feed should fit your fancy”), the feed appears to be a perfectly practical application for app users who don’t want to bounce between search and social for news updates.
But wait, there’s more!
Per the BBC, Google plans to implement the feed on Google.com as well; the media outlet also claims that “the focus of the service [is] to make Google more useful and drive users to its other services,” but there are no (public) plans for monetization. Yet.
What is The Feed?
Simply put, the feed is Google’s answer to Facebook’s News Feed and Twitter’s, well, Twitter-ness.
A reality: Search is all about intent. This positions Google as the apex ad platform, a place where advertisers can reach prospects at any point during the sales cycle based on the words typed (or spoken) by those prospects. The ROI is awesome because you're only bidding on terms that show intent relevant to your wares.
When it comes to news, though, people prefer a little bit of serendipity. Google doesn’t really do serendipity. Sorry, didn’t do.
Per Google, the feed’s goal is to make it “easier than ever to discover, explore and stay connected to what matters to you—even when you don’t have a query in mind.” How does it accomplish this? The cards in your feed are “not only based on your interactions with Google, but also factors in what’s trending in your area and around the world. The more you use Google, the better your feed will be.”
Incentivized activity? Limitless utility? Tell me that isn’t the foundation for a new revenue stream and I’ll never believe another word you say.
Before I get to the speculation about how the feed-as-ad-platform might exist, some credit where credit is due.
The Feed: The First Step Towards A Balanced Media Diet
Unlike Twitter (where I get most of my news), the feed can grow and evolve without exacerbating the curated media echo chambers in which the majority of us reside.
Again, here’s Google: “To provide information from diverse perspectives, news stories may have multiple viewpoints from a variety of sources, as well as other related information and articles. And when available, you’ll be able to fact check and see other relevant information to help get a more holistic understanding about the topics in your feed.”
The ability to synthesize informed thought based on multiple sources, how novel!
In all seriousness, this is really cool. Comparably interesting, at least from an SEM perspective, is the fact that the topics in a user’s feed link to a SERP (you know, one with ads).
And now, some advertiser-focused speculation…
How Will Google Monetize The Feed
Note: that wasn’t a question.
Without a stated path towards monetizing the feed, a lukewarm take might be something like…
“The ‘follow’ button will be used to create audiences for advertisers to use on existing channels”
“Turning to Google for news, sports, culture, etc. instead of Facebook/Twitter will incite more searches (from links and due to an influx in overall use), which in turn means more opportunity for Google to sell text ads on the SERP.”
Google didn’t monopolize search by glossing over valuable opportunities in the name of altruism (“helping people find information!”) , and that’s exactly what the feed is: a valuable opportunity for Google to monetize native ads and audience-targeting.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always yearned for a side of “you’ll never believe what these 9 child stars look like today” on my SERP.
The feed seems like the perfect place for Google to test native ads in a very big way. The tiny white and green “Ad” tag appended to text ads makes it clear(ish) to searchers that the results atop their SERP were paid for; how will Google go about distinguishing between curated news, opinions, and an “article” about buying a new pair of shoes written and paid for by BIG SHOE?
I’m all for a new approach to news (we need it), but the potential for it to become bogged down with clickbait feels very real.
As I mentioned earlier, search is fantastic because intent is clear; audience-based targeting (the likes of which you use on Facebook) represents a different kind of value.
While audiences on the Display Network are relatively robust, they don’t hold a candle to the audiences available on Facebook (or even LinkedIn).
But imagine if Google had information on exactly what you like, how long you’ve been into it, and how your preferences shift over time; that’d be pretty damn valuable to advertisers, don’t you think?
Whether these potential audiences would be used to target users via Search and Display or with (speculative) native ads is anyone’s guess; that being said, it seems completely logical to assume Google would implement a means of testing pure, audience-based targeting—a keyword-free model of targeting outside of the third-party dependent Display Network—in a way that doesn’t disrupt their existing ecosystem (and by “ecosystem,” I mean “substantial revenue stream”).
There’ll be some gorgeous irony in the use of Dr Seuss’s “there is no one alive who is you-er than you” quote if your you gets lumped in with a bunch of similar you’s, shaken up, packaged, and sold as a top-of-funnel targeting method to enterprising individuals.
Do people really want a new home page that’s not social media based?
Google has attempted to chase the Facebook experience before. It didn’t go well.
It’s also a bit presumptuous of the Search juggernaut to assume that people want a new home page that doesn’t simultaneously inform them of foreign affairs, the Sox, and what their pal ordered at Taco Bell.
While the feed could very well be the future of digital news consumption, a source for content that exists outside of users’ pre-existing points of view, I’m infinitely more interested in how Google lets us use it to grow our brands and push existing prospects down the funnel with yet another touchpoint. We'll keep an eye on it, and let you know how things develop!
About the Author
Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. If you know what's good for you, you'll follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.