Will using visual content impair your SEO?

September 16, 2014Uncategorized

Research has shown that using visually led content formats – such as SlideShares, ebooks, infographics and videos – can dramatically increase customer engagement.

In fact, publishers who use infographics, for example, can grow traffic by 12 per cent more than those who don’t, while viewers will spend 100 per cent more time on pages with videos embedded.

The unfortunate disadvantage of creating visually engaging but word-poor content is that there are limited opportunities to fill metadata with searchable terms and, of course, far trickier link-building routes to navigate. So does this mean your content will end up on the wrong side of 1000 in Google’s page indexing? And is what you lose in straightforward SEO equal to what you gain in readership?

This isn’t a new issue

Concerns over visual content formats and their SEO merits is not a new dispute. In a 2012 interview between Eric Enge and Matt Cutts (Google’s Head of Webspam), Matt recognised that Google may at some point remove or discount the value of links generated by infographics.

“[Some infographics] get far off topic, or the fact checking is really poor,” Matt says. “The infographic may be neat, but if the information it’s based on is simply wrong, then it’s misleading people.”

It’s the content’s quality and how the page owners encourage link building to the infographic that concerns Google and can influence your page ranking. So if your infographic and the backlinking are affiliated and reputable, infographics and visual content will not hinder your SEO. In fact, they could even boost it.

The upside: Natural link building

In the debate of content versus SEO, content enthusiasts (King Content included) cite the value of creating content for a purpose that will resonate with the audience – long after they have entered a question into their Google search bar.

Visual content can increase brand awareness, address customer pain points and allow a brand to showcase its expertise on a subject area. You can also easily break down items into infographic snippets, SlideShare frames or video stills, which are far more likely to spread through social sharing and allow you to cast a wider net.

These shared content titbits will naturally drive link building – the very essence of great SEO according to Google’s algorithm. In the SEO world, this is called ‘linkbait’. While the main content is still useful, its short format – often shared with a humorous one-liner – is more likely to be reshared with social networks and can yield authority and increase ranking.

Creating content for content’s sake will always have a negative effect on your campaign, even if it meets traditional SEO criteria. Compelling visual content, and its success on social media, however, can bolster your SEO and overall site ranking even if you can’t laden it with keywords. We think that these chimps from the BBC’s content campaign Do you speak chimp? would agree.