Infographics and SEO
(author: Frank Loopmans, 2014)
Good Infographics: still stand the test of time
Bad Infographics: Not Welcome Any Longer
Infographics: conveying a data or fact laden narrative using static visual cues. These cues are often but not limited to: graphics, charts, bar lines, diagrams, illustrations, timelines, comic-like figures and even display banners can be an infographic etc. They are great for communicating ‘facts in a nutshell’ that otherwise would take up 15 minutes of reading.
When infographics became the ‘hot thing’ in the digital landscape soon quality was traded in for quantity. Everyone was creating infographics, including a lot of ‘would-be designers’ who did not have the faintest understanding of design and thought of it as a viable strategy to generate traffic. First of all, it is not a strategy but a tactic, a tool to use. Secondly, it is a craft. Just like marketing managers went to university to learn about business, so did graphic designers (or visual communicators as they are named today) to learn about colour, tone, contours or typography. Content farms mushroomed and were churning them out ignorant of real and crucial information like goals and objectives. TIP: quality infographics can create loyal communities.
Who are you designing for and what is its purpose? Who is the target audience? What is your company culture? The effectiveness of infographics in digital marketing demands that these important questions are answered as they ultimately decide your infographic design and message. Would you create a cartoon-like infographic for financial institutions? Would you provide a hip audience with dull looking pie charts? Casting a wide net and hoping to catch a shoal of customers is plain bad tactics. Content and visuals should relate to the brand, foster its equity and add value. Infographics are brilliant widgets of info to have in the digital toolbox. When executed to the highest standard they lend themselves to be marketed with success especially if one knows how to play the social media tools.
Conception, planning and research are still founding blocks of every successful project.
A couple of years ago digital marketers started to question infographics’ usability to reach set targets. The main reason put forth boiled down to the fact that they were not adequate to increase quality link building. Others maintained just the opposite. The truth? Well, for starters, search engines cannot read ‘infographics’ because they are basically a JPEG and every information written on them cannot be indexed as they form part of the graphic. Secondly, poor quality backlinks hampered ranking especially since Hummingbird chirped about it from every tree around. Some even maintain that today SEO punishes sites with infographics.
Matt Cutts affirmed that good infographics with relevant content and accurate facts still rank positively as long as its aim is not fishing for links.
Even though webgraphics (sort of interactive infographics) are a new modus operandi of presenting facts, I would not go as far as Rishon Roberts who argues favourably to thread that way. ‘Her’ webgraphics are clever authoring tricks still laden with text.
No, then I think that video or motion infographics are something else altogether. But, to create those effectively and then present them efficiently requires an energetic team and money. In essence these little films, packed with graphics and data, are creative visuals that hammer the message home. And isn’t that what it is all about? Selling your brand, making the people want to consume your product. Coca Cola did a great one even though it is aimed at business leaders and the media. That’s why it is quite long, but if you dissect the video then one cannot but be ‘enlightened’ by the crucial information Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice-President, Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company disperses for free. It is all about content marketing nowadays. Telling stories, creating compelling narratives, entertaining visuals, facts. These constituents are the makeup of a good infographic. Widgets of information, that in the very near future, will be increasingly told through short snappy videos and motion infographics.
Good and Bad Infographics Examples
Good example of a bad infographic can be seen in its compressed format below.
Good video infographic made by Coca Cola for its Liquid Content campaign.
EOY produced an infographic that is factual and concise. The essence of its message is instantaneously grasped. However, scrolling down to take in all the information is frowned upon. Carve it up or be more creative in designing the visual.
Tips on Infographics: Key Points To Take Home
- Provide facts that are true
- Make your infographic stand out, design well, use experts
- Scrolling down infographics are a NO NO
- Use little ‘chunks’ and post frequently (social media, multi-channel marketing)
- Forget about creating links. If this is your purpose than you’re using the wrong tactic
- If using legends ensure they correspond to all factual data. Too many omit explaining certain data (what are the numbers in grey conveying? Ie. Dublin 122, Cork 23?)
Do you think that visual info will boom? Any suggestions or comments are welcomed.
 For lots of infographics and talk about it check out the two links below. See how some are packed with text and miss its punch while others are badly designed. Short, relevant to the brand or topic, factual and engaging makes for good ones. Park, L., (2011) ‘ Infographics: The Good, The Bad, and The Fluffy’. Available at: http://scattergather.razorfish.com/1013/2011/09/14/infographics-the-good-the-bad-and-the-fluffy/ [Accessed 20 March 2014]. Available at: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/39758409180406090/
(Cutts, M., (2012) ‘Google’s Matt Cutts Talks Infographics, Differentiation & More SEO Topics.’ Available at:http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2190942/Googles-Matt-Cutts-Talks-Infographics-Differentiation-More-SEO-Topics [Accessed 5 february 2014].
 Briggs, J., (2013) ‘Minimize The Impact of Infographic Devaluation.’ Available at: http://justinbriggs.org/minimize-the-impact-of-infographic-devaluation [Accessed 5 Febraury 2014].
 Roberts, R., (20130 ‘Infographics Are Dead: Why Your Content Team Should Stop Producing Them’. Available at: http://spinnakr.com/blog/ideas/2013/10/infographics-are-dea-why-your-content-team-should-stop-producing-them/ [Accessed 5 february 2014].
 Clifford, C., (2014) ‘Women Dominate Every Social Media Network – Except One (Infographic)’. Available at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/dbimages/article/1393972619-women-dominate-every-social-media-network-except-one-infographic.jpg [Accessed 5 February 2014].
 Available at: http://www.eoy.co.za/posts/the-state-of-entrepreneurship-in-south-africa-654/eoy-infographic/ [Accessed 10 February 2014].