Are Infographics Really That Great of a Content Type for Link Bait?

Are Infographics Really That Great of a Content Type for Link Bait?

That was quick, wasn’t it?

Okay, that’s just me attempting a joke. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and discuss this a bit more in-depth.

Infographic link bait have been around for a good couple of years. First, they were just a novelty – something you looked at thinking, “oh, nice!” and then going about your day normally.

But with time, webmasters, bloggers, and most importantly, marketers have realized that infographics are quite exceptional at earning traffic, social shares, links, and extra brand exposure overall.

For instance, as Neil Patel once shared:

Within the two-year period, from 2010 to 2012, 47 infographics generated 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains. […] That means, on average, each infographic generated 53,459 visitors and 875 backlinks from 79 unique domains.

Unfortunately, those results weren’t permanent and started declining for Neil somewhere around 2012:

The newer infographics, on average, drove 21,582 visitors and 371 backlinks from 34 unique domains.

That’s a drop of more than 50% in both areas (visitors and backlinks).

This might convince you that the days of infographics are coming to an end and that you should probably invest your content creation budget elsewhere.

But this is perhaps a false image.

For instance, when doing research for this post, I wanted to get some real-world insights from people who actually have experience publishing infographics and who have invested their own money in the process.

Here’s what Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch had to say when asked the following:

Are you getting more backlinks when publishing infographics or when publishing standard posts?

We’ve seen 5 to 10 times more backlinks (and embeds) with infographics than with regular posts. When it comes to getting backlinks, regular posts don’t even compare.

The important part here: “regular posts don’t even compare.”

(One of Ruben’s infographics as an example: How to Land More Clients With Persuasive Fees.)

Here’s an answer to the same question by Visakan Veerasamy ofReferralCandy:

Yup, this is the case about 9 out of 10 times! Our standard posts do benefit us substantially too, but there’s something special about infographics. People seem to enjoy reproducing them on their own blogs, sharing them on social media, and so on.

I’ve also done some quick research of my own to find out how Neil Patel’s current infographics perform in terms of links.

I’ve decided to use his site as a case study here for a couple of reasons:

  1. he publishes infographics every Friday;
  2. he has good traffic, which makes the data sample bigger and more likely to provide significant insights.

I went to the Site Explorer here at Ahrefs and had a look at Neil’s three most recent infographics.

Here’s what I found…

neil1

neil2

neil3

(these charts represent the number of links that a given infographic attracted starting from April 22nd)

I also checked the regular blog posts on Neil’s site and they seem to attract from 10 to 90 links.

So in Neil’s case, infographics don’t bring a bigger volume, but they deliver a more consistent number of links, roughly around 70-80 per post.

Still not bad if you ask me.

Why infographics work

What’s great about the sole idea of infographics is that they are made to be shared and embedded on other sites, whereas standard blog posts or articles are not.

In fact, republishing text content is kind of frowned upon, and if you’re looking to land guest contributions, most sites won’t allow you to post anything that’s been published elsewhere.

But with infographics, the same sites will welcome you with open hands if what you’re offering is of high enough quality, even if it’s been published on 10+ other sites already.

This innate nature of infographics is possibly one of the main factors why webmasters are willing to share them that much. After all, almost every infographic comes with a ready-made embed code, while none of the standard blog posts or articles do.

embed-infographics

Moreover, Google is a bit to blame here as well. While they do penalize webmasters for publishing duplicate text content, they are quite silent about publishing duplicate infographic content. And the practice of embedding is basically just that.

The pros of publishing infographics

It still seems that the biggest advantage of infographic link bait is that it gives youa better chance of making an impact in your niche than text content would.

Even though infographic inflation is on the rise these days, the truly great creations are still few and far between, so if you can build something exceptional, it is likely to pay off in terms of traffic and links.

In general, due to the market becoming more infographic-friendly, you get multiple possibilities to reach out to websites and directly ask them to feature your work. There are simply more places to turn to.

Furthermore, infographics are still one of the best content types for non-writers. As Neil Patel says:

Infographics still produce good traffic – unless you are an exceptionally good writer, chances are you are going to generate more traffic from infographics than you will from your blog posts.

The downsides

There are just two downsides, but quite significant ones:

  1. The aforementioned infographic inflation – the more infographics there are, the less value a single infographic has;
  2. The cost – they are much more expensive than a regular article.

The experts chip in here as well:

In your case, are infographics more costly (in terms of time or money) to build than standard posts? And if so, is the investment worth it?

They’re definitely more expensive than regular posts because it requires a lot more research and you have to pay for a good designer. There’s also the effort of promoting them and asking others to promote. That said, we’ve quickly made back the money we’ve spent, so I’d still recommend trying them out.

– Ruben Gamez

The answer to this is less straightforward than you might like. To oversimply – in a sense they cost more, but they’re totally worth it.

Here’s the complexity: We have in-house designers on our team who contribute to content. To me, this feels cheaper (for the outcome you get) than hiring and working with freelance designers over and over again.

[…]

I’d say the investment is definitely worth it, once you have a sense of what you’re trying to do. Even if it costs more, quality content can dramatically outperform mediocre content (which nobody cares about at all – nobody shares it, nobody links to it).

– Visakan Veerasamy

It turns out that the investment is just something you have to be willing to make if you want to see any results.

In the sea of great-looking infographics, you can’t hope for nothing but mediocre results if your creation is only so-so. This means trouble if your budget isn’t wide enough.

Thinking outside the box

If you’re still wondering if infographics are something for you, consider the following short case study shared with us by Adam Connell of BloggingWizard:

“Initially I contacted 40+ experts from the social media/blogging/marketing space asking them a single question.

The answers were published in this post: http://www.bloggingwizard.com/stand-out-online/

The post received: links from 20+ referring domains, around 5,000 visitors and 2000+ social shares.

I spoke to Niall Devitt from TweakYourBiz.com about the idea of repurposing this into and infographic. 24Slides.com were kind enough to collaborate with us on the infographic so this didn’t cost us anything.

I then spent around 3 hours preparing the content to be included, giving feedback to the 24Slides team and writing some additional content to go with the infographic.

We then published it here:http://tweakyourbiz.com/marketing/2014/10/01/grow-online-presence-advice-43-experts-infographic/

The repurposed version received over 22,000+ visitors and earned 2,000+ social shares. Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to support this with much outreach but the repurposed version did get a few additional links. Would have received more with additional outreach, but still for the extra time we invested – the results were very impressive.”

As it turns out, there are no rules regarding how an infographic should be created and where it should be published first.

Instead of going for a from-scratch approach, Adam repurposed an existing article and then didn’t even publish it on his site. He made it available on a community site where he was able to reach new readers and get them interested in his brand.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, even despite the fact that infographics have been around in the mainstream for a couple of years and that the market is quite saturated with all sorts of works, they still manage to attract more links on average than standard text-based posts and articles.

When asked if they’re planning to continue publishing infographics in the future, Ruben Gamez and Visakan Veerasamy both confirmed that it’s indeed on their agendas and that it’ll stay there until the pool of results dries out:

We’ve experimented with a few other things (like slideshare), but I do think we’ll continue publishing infographics from time to time, until we see that they’re not working for us.

– Ruben Gamez

Definitely! I think we’ve gotten better at it with practice. The more we do it, the more effective and efficient we get, so the better the ROI gets.

– Visakan Veerasamy

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