There are so many ways to improve SEO, not least of which is link building. But do you feel like the quality of results from your link building strategy has started dwindling?
If your answer is “yes”, you’re not alone. Link building has taken off in the content marketing world, but we’ve exhausted the typical strategies by overusing them.
There is one method to improve SEO and brand awareness that marketers haven’t utilized broadly yet — designing guestographics.
This is a strategy that we at Venngage have been using for years to earn backlinks and improve our SERP. Guestographics aren’t exactly a secret, but since so few content marketers know about them, here are our tips for creating and pitching them.
What is a guestographic?
A guestographic is essentially a guest infographic. We’ve used this term internally for years because it has a very specific purpose.
Guestographics are created in collaboration with other brands. It’s their content with our infographic design. This has become an effective way to improve SEO for both parties.
For example, we partnered with Hubspot to turn their lead generation ideas blog post into the infographic below:
Over the years, we’ve used this strategy to partner with numerous sites. It’s helped our team build connections in the industry, earn us backlinks, and improve our SEO.
Why should you create a guestographic?
Some types of content are easy to build backlinks to. Blog posts, survey results, and interviews often offer unique content that marketers are happy to include in their posts.
But what about pages for which you want unusual or specific anchor text? What about landing pages? How can you improve SEO for those pages through link building? You can spend all your time doing cold outreach and research and still not get the desired results. Offering to design guestographics can cut your work down significantly because you’ll get more positive responses.
For example, we wanted to build links to a page using the anchor text “infographic maker”, but we came up against a brick wall. That phrase is sales-y and sites didn’t want to hyperlink that specific anchor text.
However, when we offered to design an infographic for Mention, they were happy to add our link to our preferred anchor text when they credited our guestographic on their post. Both parties win.
Why does this strategy work? Because everyone loves visuals. They’re easy to skim. Plus, in the content-rich online space, visuals are better at attracting users.
And if you have original research, why not share it as an infographic, like this example, to appeal to a wider audience?
According to these link building statistics, original research and visuals are a killer combo in marketing.
We’ve produced 200 guestographics since we started using this strategy and they’ve generated 200,000 organic sessions per month. We’ve also improved our SEO and rank #1 on our highest converting pages. Here’s how we did it.
How to improve SEO with a guestographic
If you’re still wondering how to improve website SEO using guestographics, here’s the six-step strategy we’ve perfected.
1. Find the right guestographic content
One thing we’ve learned the hard way is that not all posts make for great infographic content. A super-long article with multiple headers and subheadings is going to be impossible to condense into one graphic.
You also don’t want to promise more than one guestographic. Whether you’re relying on a designer, agency, or an infographic solution like Venngage, designing takes time.
What we did find is that simple list articles make for great infographics. Lists are easy to read and follow an established pattern. All they lack is visual appeal, which is where Guestographics come in.
A list infographic template, like the example below, can be easily customized for different list articles.
But how do you find the list posts that will help improve your SEO? You can use a tool like Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs to find relevant content.
Since we’re looking for lists, we would go to the Keyword Overview in Moz and search for “10 tips for”. You can be more specific and search for “10 tips for content marketing”.
The next bit is a bit more manual. Click through to each link and skim through the content. You don’t want to offer a guestographic to a site that already has an infographic for their list.
You also want to look through the lists in detail. As we said, posts that are too complicated are hard to repurpose into an infographic.
On the other hand, if a post is particularly text-heavy but is formatted into a list, that would be the right target for you.
2. Define your audience
Before you pitch your guestographics to a site, take the time to define your target audience. Remember, the point of this exercise is to improve your website SEO. Getting backlinks is great, but if they’re not from your industry or relevant to your brand, the links won’t help your SERP.
Guestographics require some effort to create. You don’t want to hand them out to just anyone. That’s why we define our audience by creating user personas.
For inspiration, here’s an example of a customer persona profile.
How do you decide the ideal users for your brand? Analyze your existing customers. Where is the traffic to your site coming from? Who are the top purchasers?
If you feel like you don’t have enough demographic information, or can’t define user interests, send out a survey or quiz to collect this data. Speak to your users directly for more information.
The overlaps in interests, demographics, pain points, and solutions will help you define two to three ideal personas. These will become your targets when choosing sites to pitch to.
3. Choose keywords to improve website SEO
There are still a few stops on the way to the pitch. You know your ideal persona, but have you found the best keywords that will effectively improve website SEO?
Topic relevance is extremely important. If you’re in the real estate field, backlinks from sites that are printing school books won’t do anything for you.
Even if a keyword is lucrative, if it isn’t in your field, there’s no point targeting it. There won’t be much positive impact on your SEO.
In fact, getting backlinks from anywhere and everywhere could end up hurting your rankings. You don’t want Google to think you aren’t an authority or thought leader in your field.
We use Google Keyword Planner to choose primary and related keywords. If you want to know more, Loganix also has a helpful guide for finding long-tail keywords.
You can also find relevant keywords from the Google search bar. Type in a keyword and before pressing “enter”, look at the options presented.
List your set of keywords in a chart, like the example below. This will make it easier to find the right kind of content to create Guestographics for.
There’s another reason why keywords are important for this process: alt text. Marketers seem to forget that images also help you rank on Google.
Google’s Image Search isn’t as powerful a SERP tool as the text search, but it does impact your keywords and rankings. That’s why images need to be keyword optimized.
We use this SEO checklist to ensure that our keywords have been used in the correct areas, including in the image alt attributes:
Before you finalize your guestographic, check that the alt attributes and file name corresponds to your chosen keywords.
4. The guestographic pitch
Once you have a shortlist of content that would benefit from a guestographic, it’s time to pitch the site. Your pitch should be direct and offer the contact added value.
Remember, content editors are busy people. They get tons of emails in their inbox, many of them asking for the same thing. They can’t spare five minutes to read an email.
Since you’re offering a guestographic instead of a link collaboration, you already have the upper hand over your competitors. That’s a good start. But your pitch still needs to be perfect.
Here’s an example of a pitch that we’ve used in the past. It gets straight to the point, offers value, and states what we would like in return, which isn’t much.
Note how we give examples of past guestographics we created with major names in the industry. Name drops aren’t necessary, but they help show the contact that you mean business.
If you’re pitching your first guestographic and don’t have any examples to show, include something that displays your credentials.
After sending your pitch, follow up a few days later. Try not to exceed three follow-ups. If you haven’t received a reply by then, they’re not interested in the guestographic.
When you do get positive responses, you can start collaborating with the site. It took some trial and error for us to reach a process that didn’t require constant back and forth emails.
Here’s what we do. We ask the contact for an outline of the content, including:
Brand colors and fonts
Call to action
We also ask the contact to look at our templates for inspiration. This makes it easier for the design team as they already have some direction from the site.
Why do we ask for these details before the graphic design process? Because if we create the outline and send it for review to the client, they’re going to return with edits.
We make those edits and send them back for review, and go back and forth until everyone is frustrated and no work has been done. It’s better to get the outline first and work from there.
Also, design is a lot of work even when we’re using our templates. If we also have to provide the outline and review the process, that becomes a huge ask.
5. Design a memorable infographic
With the client’s checklist in place, you can begin designing a guestographic that will successfully improve SEO rankings for both you and your contact.
As a design platform, we’re used to creating infographics pretty regularly.
For organizations that don’t have designers, there are online design resources available (like Venngage) or you can outsource the process to freelance graphic designers.
6. Promoting guestographics to improve SEO ranking
You’ve done the work of creating a guestographic. Is that all it takes to improve SEO on Google? Unfortunately not. There’s still one more step.
The client site will be promoting their guestographic. It’s a huge selling point for their content, after all.
But you also need to promote it. Share the client’s post on social media and let the world know that you create guestographics. This will also help you attract more users.
That’s not all. Look for other sites that would be interested in similar content and ask them to share the guestographic. You can also offer the same service to them.
This is your chance to create a whole new outreach campaign. Use the guestographic as a tool to earn more links from new sites.
A guestographic is repurposed content. But it can be further repurposed for your content marketing strategy. Break the infographic down into multiple social media posts or a slideshow. This is a great way to stretch one piece of content over multiple platforms and to reach a wider audience.
The takeaway is: treat every guestographic as an opportunity to scale your backlinks strategy.
Conclusion: Use guestographics to organically improve your SEO on Google
Backlinks are an important part of improving your SEO, but getting backlinks continues to be a challenging process.
There’s a lot of work that goes into getting backlinks. Most sites are likely to refuse to link to you because of the sheer number of requests they get.
If you can offer additional value to your contacts, not only can you earn a backlink but you can also create a partnership that lasts longer than a single conversation.
With every new and relevant backlink, you let Google know that you’re an authority in your niche and a site that’s worth ranking at the top of the SERP.
That’s the power of guestographics. They add value to your partners and place you as a brand that is willing to go that extra mile for its users.