The Infographic: Pictures Create Links

Well, it's the middle of 2010 -- and for a full-blown, proper SEO campaign we still need to build links. And building links is still about as much fun as playing with Mr Potato Head after you've lost all of the body parts. That said, there a few link-building tactics that can be fun and creative and perfectly legal in the eyes of Google.

I'll save you my rant about how Google created a link economy and then pulled the rug out from under us when we decided to use their currency. Next time you see me at a conference we can have that discussion over a nice Old-Fashioned and pontificate away. Anyhow... moving on to something useful for you today.


I love infographics.  They are fun, informative and create a ton of real organic links to your Web site. For those of you new to this, infographics are graphical representations of some particular data set or idea or concept. The idea is that, generally, the data is either hard to understand on its own or it may just be boring. Add some imagery and description and that data can quickly become fascinating and easy to understand. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:


advertisement -- This is a great graphic displaying how addicted we are to the Internet. -- This is probably the longest infographic out there, at 14,677 pixels tall.

The key to infographics, like any viral media project, is relevance and timeliness for the audience. The Our Amazing Planet example mentioned above is absolutely fascinating for that site's target audience, many of whom probably have blogs and will repost the image as well as sending it to friends. Also, it includes the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to scale (yeah -- the one that exploded) so in light of current events this infographic went super-viral.  The end result was awesome exposure for, as well as a metric ton of new inbound links.

There is one recurring problem with infographics . Let me relay part of a conversation I have with clients when we're talking about link-building.

Me: We should consider an infographic.
Client: What's an infographic?
Me: [explanation here]
Client: Sounds great, but I sell [insert boring product here]
Me: Hmmm. Good point. We need to start thinking deeper, is all.
Client: What do you mean?
Me: What is your target demographic? What do they use your product for? How does that relate to a bigger issue?

I'm sure you spotted the problem. Some products and services that clients sell are terribly boring and unsexy. So how do you get over that hurdle? It involves some extra creativity.  For example, let's say your client sells children's clothing. Not very exciting. Start digging into the company culture. Do they support a child-related charity? There's a great angle that could yield an infographic about the educational levels of children around the globe or just in the U.S. 

Infographics are hot right now, but they've also been around for years. Magazines have been running infographics forever, so I'm not the least bit worried about them becoming a thing of the past anytime soon.  If you're going to try out this link-building technique, I highly recommend working with an outside design agency, and possibly a search agency, to help you flesh out your idea and create your design to have maximum effectiveness.

 Go forth and explain things to me with pretty pictures. It's the only way I'll learn.

3 comments about "The Infographic: Pictures Create Links".
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  1. Clarice Brough from, July 16, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.

    This is great! Very good "food for thought", and very applicable to my particular website,

    Not only your topic, but the example by Our Amazing Planet is directly related to our audience. So... I think I'll blog it! :)

    Todd... you go boy!

  2. Henry Harteveldt from Forrester Research, July 16, 2010 at 8:48 p.m.

    What a terrific column, thank you!

  3. jacquie whitt, July 18, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.

    I don't usually follow through with all these emails, but this one I did. The amazing planet infographic is incredible and I definitely get the point!

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