They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is especially true when it comes to infographics. By designing attractive, informative and thoughtfully-composed infographics and sharing them on your website or blog, you can significantly boost user engagement and conversion.
What goes into creating an infographic, and what are the best ways to optimise it for search?
What is an Infographic?
Simply put, an infographic is a visual representation of information, or in other words, a graphic (image) that provides the viewer with information. An infographic might take the form of a chart or graph, or something more creative like an abstract illustration.
The purpose of an infographic is to present information in a way that’s very quick and easy to understand. They can be used to communicate a complex topic or process in a simpler way, or to share in-depth statistics in a way that viewers can easily interpret and retain.
Did You Know? 90% of the information your brain processes every day comes from visual stimuli. 65% of people are “visual learners”, which means they retain visual information more effectively than other types of data.
The Popularity of Infographics
These statistics speak volumes about the way online users respond to visual content infographics, as opposed to plain text.
- Infographics can help to increase web traffic by up to 12%.
- The production of infographics online increases by 1% daily.
- More than 87% of Internet users are more likely to read text on an infographic than on a plain web page.
- Eye-tracking studies have shown that users pay closer attention to information-rich images, and spend more time looking at these images than reading other text on the same page.
- 30% of marketers use infographics (and other original graphics) more than any other type of visual content (such as video, animation etc).
- Likes and shares for infographics on social media platforms are 3 times higher than those for other any other type of content.
The tremendous popularity of infographics, as we can see in these stats, clearly demonstrates the power of visual communication.
As a business owner, how can you use infographics to the best of your advantage, in a way that adds value for visitors to your site or blog? Simply looking cool isn’t enough – there is a lot of planning and careful thought that goes into good infographics design.
Types of Infographics
Different types of graphics can be used to convey different types of information. Depending on what type of data you want to share with your readers, you need to choose the type of infographic carefully to make sure it’s best suited for the job.
There are a few common infographic formats you’ll be likely to see online today:
Statistical: A data-focused infographics, good for visualising data from multiple sources, such as survey results.
Informational: A hugely popular infographic format, typically divided into several sections, each with a descriptive heading and brief description. Ideal for giving an overview of a larger topic, or communicating a specialised concept in a simple way.
Timeline: A visualisation of chronological events. Good for explaining the history of a company or product, or providing an overview of important events and dates. The information typically flows from left to right, or top to bottom.
Process: A visual step-by-step explanation of how a process works, helping to simplify each part of the process. The information typically flows from left to right, or top to bottom, and may include numbering.
Flowchart: Guides the reader through a set of various choices that lead to specialised answers or conclusions.
Map: A map chart that visualises geographic information, like location-based or demographic data from different cities or countries.
Comparison: A good way to compare two different sets of data or concepts, and highlight similarities and differences. Often divided horizontally or vertically.
Hierarchy: A way of organising information in a visually hierarchical way, i.e, from most to least or best to worst.
List: A collection of resources or tips, presented in a straightforward way that is more visually engaging than a plain text list.
Did You Know? Job-seekers in creative fields have started using “infographic resumés” – a creative visual representation of their qualifications to catch the eye of potential employers.
What Makes Good Infographic Design?
Because infographic design is a creative process, it might be easy to assume that “anything goes”. This isn’t true however; there are some critical key guidelines and best practices every designer must follow, to ensure that an infographic captures the users’ attention and communicates the message effectively.
Simpler is better: Don’t make an infographic overly complex. This will make the image harder to interpret, and overload the reader with information rather than clarifying the information for them.
Know your audience: When designing an infographic, it’s important to have a clear target audience in mind – just like when you’re writing a blog post or any other piece of onsite content. Figure out what your audience needs (the “problem”), and provide them with visual information that meets their needs (the “solution”).
Research: A good infographic relies on just a few key points of data to get its message across. This means every fact or stat you include must be up to date and taken from a reputable source. Look at market studies and industry surveys conducted by trusted sites. Once you have decided on the most relevant and interesting data points to use, you can start thinking about how to present them visually.
Actionable and shareable content: It’s important to create an infographic that readers will want to share. Use compelling statistics that will back up your claims and surprise the users, or help them to see the topic from a different angle.
User-friendly format: Make sure your infographic is easy to view. The images often start out very large and then get resized for the web, which can cost you quality and readability. Make sure that the smallest font size on your infographic is clearly readable across multiple platforms. Give users a “click to enlarge” option so they can view the original larger size if needed.
Did You Know? With the rise of mobile search, “mini infographics” are gaining popularity. These mobile-friendly images are easily embeddable and portable, and ideal for users browsing on their mobile phones and tablets.
Let your graphics speak for you: One of the main mantras of infographic design is “show, don’t tell”. Limit the copy you use, and stick to simple graphics and numbers for the most part.
Visual flow: The information must flow in a way that guides the user clearly through the content. Most typically, infographic information will flow from the top down, or from left to right. Different sections should be visually separated, but the overall infographic should have a cohesive flow.
Remember your copy: Infographics are image-heavy, and as we’ve said, copy should be kept to a minimum. However, the copy you do include is just as important as the visual elements. Keep it clear and compelling, and of course, make sure there are no spelling mistakes, grammar issues or typos.
Choose your fonts wisely: Typography is a big part of strong visual design. Present your copy using fonts that are clear and easy to read. Avoid decorative, script-style fonts, as these will lose readability, especially when it comes to smaller copy.
Size limit: There is some debate around the ideal size for an infographic, but the general consensus is that if an image is too big, it will sacrifice user engagement. Online marketer Zac Johnson suggests no more than 600 pixels wide or 1,800 pixels long, while Neil Patel recommends a limit of 8,000 pixels long.
Colour palette: Use colours that reflect and complement your brand’s corporate identity. Incorporate your business’ logo and contact details as well.
Did You Know? According to research by Xerox, the use of colour increases readers’ attention spans and recall by 82%, and increases comprehension by as much as 73%.
Sources: Always credit your sources, whether you list the relevant URLs at the bottom of your infographic image, or link to them in the on-page content. Using someone else’s research without crediting them is bad form. Citing your sources improves your own credibility, and also opens up opportunities for link-building with these reputable sites.
Optimising an Infographic for Search
How do you make sure your infographic will not only appeal to users, but also rank well with search engines?
Keywords: Just as you would do with written content, you need to choose a relevant keyword for your infographic content. This should be a phrase your target audience is searching for; something that has decent search volumes but is not too competitive to rank for.
Of course, a search engine isn’t going to “read” an image file the same way it would read plain text on a web page.
Let’s say you’ve created an infographic covering a list of the top 10 biggest trends in visual design this year, and your keyword is “visual design trends”. To optimise your infographic correctly, you need to add your chosen keyword to the following elements on your page:
- Page URL: Create a relatively short URL with 3 to 5 words, no more than 60 characters. For example: 10-visual-design-trends-infographic/
- Headline: The headline should be compelling and encourage the user to read more, while clearly describing the content they’ll be reading. Ideally, the headline should be 60 to 100 characters. For example: Infographic: Feast Your Eyes on 10 Visual Design Trends for 2019
- Meta description: This content should ideally be 135 to 160 characters long, including the keyword close to the beginning. It should accurately describe the topic covered in the infographic, and include a call to action. For example: These 10 visual design trends are taking the creative world by storm! Check out our infographic to see what’s driving design in 2019 and beyond.
- H1 heading: Include one optimised H1 tag above your infographic, so Google can “read” it. For example: Visual Design Trends Infographic: 10 Trends to Watch
- Image filename: The name of your image file is one of the main things search engines will analyse to tell them what your infographic is all about. Don’t name your files something generic; make sure it is descriptive and includes your keyword. For example: 10-visual-design-trends-infographic.jpg
- Image alt text: The alt (alternative) text of your image lets search engines (and users) know what is included in the image, in cases where it’s too slow to load or not displaying properly. Make sure your alt text is concise and descriptive, with your keyword included. For example: Infographic on 10 Visual Design Trends
Once you’ve taken care of keyword optimisation, there are a few other important factors to consider:
Word count: Don’t simply upload your infographic image onto a blank page. Search engines will also consider other page features, such as page length. Include well-written, optimised copy in your post as well – aim for around 1,000 words.
Page speed: This is an important concern when it comes to large image files. Make sure your page is loading quickly, or visitors are more likely to bounce off before reading your content, and Google will be less likely to suggest it in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Social sharing: Make sure all your social sharing buttons are in working order, and place them in a clearly visible position close to the visual content.
Call to action: Include a CTA that encourages users to take action after reading, such as subscribing to your blog, visiting a site page to find out more about the topic, or downloading and sharing the infographic.
Visual content is a crucial part of any successful online presence, and a good infographic is a long-lasting, highly shareable piece of content that will improve your visibility and help you earn more qualified backlinks. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these award-winning infographics, which cover everything from design and politics to pop culture.