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Viral Bait: Infographics
By: Marion Guthrie
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Infographics are everywhere. You find them on blogs, websites, press releases, social networks, even the weather report. These colorfully illustrated charts break down data into simple pictures and turn complex information into easy-to-understand symbols. By making the difficult digestible (and sometimes fun), infographics catch the attention of your audience. Just as importantly, Google loves them and will reward their delivery with top search rankings.
 
Their story starts in late February 2011, when Google made a strategic change to their search algorithm in an attempt to stop the use of content farms from manipulating search results. The purpose of the algorithm, called Panda, was to ensure better rankings for high-quality websites that delivered original content, like in-depth research and data reporting. From this evolved the need for websites to improve content in order to deliver higher search rankings and the infographic was born. 
 
Adding to the infographic’s growing popularity, the following year, in April 2012, Google’s Penguin algorithm was released. Penguin decreases the rankings of websites that buy links from link farms or directories, offer irrelevant content, or worst, employ black-hat SEO (deceptive SEO techniques like using hidden text). 
 
How your website ranks in Google search results has a big impact on your bottom line. Smart marketers want their sites to perform well with the current Panda and Penguin search algorithms. How? Well, the saying “content is king” has never been truer. Google’s Panda algorithm must "believe" that you are adding valuable content to the web for your site to rank well. So you need to focus on creating good, unique content that viewers will want to share. One way is by using infographics. 
 
Also something like 65% of us are visual learners and this visual attribute is the reason for their inherent viral potential. Even better than a picture, when you add an infographic to your content, especially one that contains interesting data or challenges your audience’s world view, it makes your topic more relevant and engaging, increasing the chance that your reader will share that graphic across the web.
 
Here are some examples from Creative Blog with a list of 60 Brilliant Infographics. Another fun example from Visual.ly provides you with a free tool on their website that takes your Twitter profile and turns it into an infographic in 30 seconds. Give it a try at http://visual.ly/twitter.  
 
If you design and use an infographic, remember that its viral capacity may remove it from your website. This means that you’ll lose your branding. So expect that to happen and be prepared. Like a dog without a collar, you don’t want your infographic to get lost on the Internet with no one knowing it belongs to you. 
 
Are there any infographics that you've seen recently that caught your eye? Share your thoughts in the comments. Here’s one that inspired this post. It’s from NowSourcing on The State of Infographics.


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About the Author
A marketing strategist, Marion Guthrie grows businesses by developing solutions for consumer engagement. Her mantra is, "Your customers are the best marketing department you can have."
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