One of the top factors driving most content sharing on social media is great imagery. It’s because it’s funny, inspiring, stunning, amazing or just resonates with them in some way. When it comes to content marketing this seems to be untapped territory at least in the content marketing strategies niche.
We all know how unbelievably viral memes are, so much so that it’s being considered a cultural segment and let’s not forget that the viral success of someecards.com was one to be rivaled just a few years back.
The Importance of Social Signals As A Ranking Factor:
iPullRank’s Michael King has been on a nationwide technical SEO tour for most of 2016 and in doing all of that talking and researching and talking some more he came up with some great data to support his arguments about the importance of technical SEO that is truly amazing.
My agency is taking a step away from technical SEO for the year ahead and focusing more on bigger, broader more direct customer driving digital marketing services. I was fortunate enough to meet Michael King at the 2015 Internet Summit and watched his talk on the technical SEO revolution in Raleigh this year at #iSumm2016.
The most influential take away for me from “The Technical SEO Renaissance” had nothing to do with technical SEO at all and really is only a tiny blip in the grand scheme of that magnanimous write-up.
Michael King found a direct correlation between the number of Facebook shares and Googlebot Visits that blew me away. His data shows almost 10x more crawl frequency for content frequently shared on social media than content with frequent backlink growth.
—To me, this is totally crazy and flipped my SEO brain completely upside down.
I always knew that social shares we’re a ranking signal but I brushed it off as a minuscule ranking factor when in fact it could be an enormous ranking factor after all.
So I wanted err needed to look at the numbers…
In The SERP
And in ahrefs
It doesn’t matter how you slice it Neil has ~12x more social shares and far fewer links and guess what, he’s number one!
—I’ll bet that you will pay much more attention to social sharing signals now, won’t you?
I’m not saying dump your link building strategies, in my mind backlinks are still the top ranking factor, however, if you’re so close you can taste it, double down on social media marketing tactics and drive as many shares as possible.
A good practice going forward into this sharing is ranking era, is to write with link building in mind and aggressively market with max share-ability in mind.
So how can stunning visuals put you over the top? Literally…
Finding the perfect visuals
Google Image Search…
Finding stunning visuals for your content with Google Image Search might seem crazy but it works just make sure you contact the photo’s owner for usage rights/permission or use Google’s awesome image search tools to restrict your results to “labeled for reuse” as shown in the example here.
Free Image Sites:
My two favorite sites to pull great visuals from are pixabay.com and freepik.com both have quirks about photo credits but they really are free. Both sites also are wrapped up tight in ads for paid stock photo sites and related content. Neither site has extraordinarily large banks of images but there’s enough to find something great to fit your content!
Typically has more results than freepik and less “stock” looking images. I’m under the assumption that they are pulling their images from some form of a relationship with Shutterstock.
Typically has fewer results for photos but much more in the way of graphics and illustrations, compared to Pixabay. Switch on the vectors filter and search for “SEO” you’ll see what I mean. You’ll also see that some of the big time bloggers on content marketing use that exact query on pixabay for their image resources.
Stock Photo Sites:
The top 2 stock photo sites for any kind of marketing are ShutterStock and iStockPhoto, in that order. There’s one really big thing you need to take note of if you’re going to use either one of these…
Both leverage user submission for content and there are a handful of really big producers using both sites to sell their content, having said that there are a few photography styles that could make your photo choice easily recognizable as stock. Take a look at the screenshot for freepik above, dead center is the perfect example of that style, regardless of the image’s content.
There is a commonality about the properties of that type of photo that screams I’m from iStock! The composition, the subject’s distance from the camera, the color quality, the room lighting, etc. browse iStockPhoto for about 3 minutes and you’ll see what I mean.
ShutterStock Pulls in over 1 million images per day so there’s no shortage of fresh options. While browsing their catalog you will see droves of images you recognize from print & TV ads and digital marketing. ShutterStock could be considered the industry standard in digital marketing stock photography in that respect.
On the basic package stock images cost around $15 each the more you buy the cheaper it get’s by ~10 – 20%, once you get into heavy use you’ll upgrade to the pro plan where 750 images will cost you $250/month or get 20% off and pay $2,400/year, roughly $.027 per image. If you need more than just the standard license for online video, film, TV ads or large commercial print runs > 50,000 you’ll have to contact ShutterStock about enterprise pricing.
A full breakdown of the ShutterStock pricing options can be found at photo buyer guide.
Getty images invented the stock marketing resource industry for news and media and goes way back, possibly all the way back. Getty started iStock to feed user-generated stock to the internet marketing industry, back then the web was starving for great photography.
iStock uses a point system for pricing, you buy credit packs and depending on the size/license you need you can get photos from $1.40 each. There’s a subscription option and the highest option on the lowest package will get your cost per image down to $0.19 if you pay annually.
If you’re really shopping for a stock photo provider and can’t decide photo buyer guide has all the information you’ll ever need when choosing the right stock photo solution for you or your agencies needs.
You probably started out by writing your content first and now you’re looking ways to make it stand out, right? Consider trying this:
A 5 step approach to writing more visually stunning content:
- Complete your content outline first
- Choose Visually Stunning photos and graphics for each heading in your outline
- Start filling in your content around the photos for each subtopic in the outline
- Make sure you reference the images you used to tie your reader back into the image and give each graphic purpose.
- Leverage icons and illustrations, screenshots and data visuals to further break up your content and make it more fun and easier to read.
You should care as much about how your content looks when you share it as you care about how it looks on your own website.
Getting the content out there and making sure it looks as visually stunning as possible no matter where it’s posted should be paramount to your content marketing strategy as it will truly maximize social share’s, click through and furthermore the likelihood of getting picked up by other writers and snagging a bunch of links.
Having said all that, the most successful blogs leverage at a bare minimum ALL of the following visual content marketing strategies:
All of the biggest, baddest blogs have a must click now, trigger finger tickling, “ooh I should probably just share it first, cause I know it’s gonna rock my socks, and my friends are gonna love it!”, featured image.
To get this to work right everywhere on Drupal sites you’ll need to have a featured image field on your article content type and properly configured meta tags, meta tags Twitter and meta tags Open Graph modules to get it right.
How to enable featured images on Drupal and configure the meta tags module to use them for Twitter, Facebook, and Google:
- Add a Featured Image field to your article content type
- Go to: Structure > Content Types > Article > Manage Fields
- Add a new image field named: Featured Image
- Download, upload and install the meta tags module
- Enable sub modules Twitter and Open Graph, disregard everything else
- Go to the meta tags configuration page
- Disable all of the contexts except for global and node
- Override/edit global and fill out as many fields as you possibly can
- Override/edit node and fill out as many more fields as you possibly can
- Find the image field under the Twitter, Facebook and advanced
- Place in the token(s) for your featured image field: [node:field_featured_image]
For WordPress the featured image field is in place out of the box but to get it to work as expected everywhere you’ll need to add the Yoast SEO plugin and COMPLETELY configure every option of every page of the Yoast SEO plugin’s settings form.
Closely examining the top blogs, I’ve noticed that the most successful content’s featured images share the following attributes:
- ~8:5 aspect ratio
- ~62% value proposition/cta coverage area
- ~38% photo subject coverage area
- For photos, dramatic depth of field effects, lower than usual saturation and contrast ratio effects.
For illustrations, colorful flat ui or material design aspects.
- Ample negative space and usually an object leading off the right side of the image but facing into the content area.
The best infographics on the most successful blogs by the top writers have, ready to share quickly, infographics associated with every article they publish. Some of these top blogs are actually infographics themselves. All of these awesome infographics have common attributes that visitors expect to see when they’ve stumbled across them:
- A 1:4 aspect ratio
- Clear and concise 8:5 aspect ratio sections with headings and data broken up with graphics and/or visualizations
- Actual data
- A widely ranged color scheme
- A hodge podge of mixed, usually retro fonts
- Extremely simple yet visually relatable icons
- Stupid proof share and embed functionality
Infographics can be shared on a wide range of social media platforms, most importantly:
- Pinterest —dofollow links for Pinterest business accounts
- Visual.ly —nofollow
- Visualize.us —dofollow with custom anchor text
- Facebook —nofollow links in the status update, description and comments
- Twitter —nofollow ofcourse but as above carries social signals with link
- Google+ —dofollow in comments on m.google.com…
I have proof cause no one ever believes me:
—Totally ignore how terribly spammy that anchor text appears to be.
Put that 4 credit hours of intro to computers to good use, knuckle down and make a powerpoint. Embrace it.
SlideShare is probably the most used and least championed or even spoken of web presentation tool that exists, I think the very idea of creating a powerpoint presentation makes people embarrassed or something.
The biggest names in content marketing all use SlideShare for their speaking appearances and they use all of you monkeys that aren’t on that level to drive a crap ton of traffic to those presentations while they’re speaking and quietly win the whole internet with 3 – 5k simultaneous new sessions and 1 – 2 hours for average time on page, for a 10 slide powerpoint presentation.
All of the big marketing, sales and ad agencies pitch the world’s largest clients with PowerPoint presentations everyday and guess who’s winning that game?
The point is make a powerpoint out of your blog posts, regardless of whether or not you’re ever going to present any of those articles.
It’s so easy, just follow this…
Quick guide on turning your blog’s infographics into awesome SlideShare presentations and get lots of traffic:
Hopefully you followed my guide on setting up your infographic for maximum success so this will be super easy.
- Take the photo editor of your choosing and open up your infographic. Have photoshop even better…
- Slice or crop the infographic along the sections
- Save for web or save each cropped section to a folder
- Use a pdf combining tool like acrobat pro or mac’s preview and compile the individual slides into a pdf (bonus content marketing material)
- Sign in to SlideShare and drop the pdf into your SlideShare browser window
- Add all your meta info, your link and your done.
You can use your Facebook page’s photo albums to tell stories rather than merely collect photos from your timeline.
Add each of those slides from your diced-up infographic to a photo album and manually order them so they tell a story about your blog in sequence, You can also mix in the photos and screenshots from within your article to enhance the experience. You can re-market this idea on Pinterest as a board, on Twitter and Instagram by dripping the photos out one at a time in an order that makes sense. Link where you need to link to in the post and you’ll create a higher level of user experience and social engagement across all of your digital marketing platforms!
Tumblr will allow you to create posts from your infographic and in-article photos in the same way, just use the titles that the images related to in your blog and short snippets from the content as the captions and add links to key places within the blog using #anchors. You won’t believe how many dofollow backlinks you’ll get if your images are compelling enough to get re-blogs and the more frequently you drip photos with links onto tumblr the bigger your following will get and your backlink profile could have the potential to blow up, exponentially. Don’t take my word for it look at the numbers from this moz article.
Similar social photo storytelling tactics can be applied to Medium, BuzzFeed, Mashable, Storify, Exposure.co, Vi.sualize.us, Imgur, SVTBLE and if you’re in the market, Houzz and Porch are great places to tell stories with photos. Really anywhere you can think to put a collection of photos with titles, descriptions and links in a coherent way is another medium for generating traffic, building backlinks (dofollow or not) and getting your message out to a broader audience and you know never know where your content might land that finds that one share happy viewer who just helps you blast it out everywhere reaching even more people!
You can also generate backlinks from your photos on these cool photo sharing platforms: pic2fly.com, picstopin.com, visual.ly (nofollow), and scrapbookscrapbook.com. As with all link building strategies the link is useless if the page doesn’t get traffic or isn’t indexed so take care of that when your done posting your awesome photos with links back to blog
Double Your Content Exposure Using Automated Slideshow Generators!
Another great idea is to run the photos through your Google+ page’s slideshow creation app. Bonus post on G+ and you can share it on Facebook as an interactive post. Google’s own Photos app will do this without your consent with any and every somewhat related sequence of photos you take with your Android phone —could be scary You can do the same thing with Facebook’s moments app and Apple’s photos app on your mac or iDevice. If you tinker enough these can be exported to your official Google My Business connected youtube channel as a video but I prefer to use the YouTube creator app for that…
Boost Social Engagements Everywhere Using YouTube Video Creator!
Using the youtube creator app to turn your infographic slices into a fun “Ken Burns” show with quirky music is super fast and easy to do you can get really fun results and blast it out across all of your social platforms to further max out your social engagement channels. If your setup to earn cash from YouTube ads and your video gets a lot of views you might have yourself a pretty sweet supplemental revenue stream.