In almost every single blog that we write here at Click Consult we tell our audience that there is no set way to build links or to ‘do’ search engine optimisation (SEO). We explain that businesses and brands must work hard to ensure that their strategy is flexible and that they are covering all bases if they are to achieve the best results
This approach means that we have to look over old ground at the tried and tested methods, yet learn from current trends and be bold enough to embrace forward-thinking technology if we are truly to achieve SEO success.
A good example of this is the relationship between link building (tried and tested), infographics (current trend) and eye tracking (forward thinking technology) and how together they can improve SEO performance.
What is link building?
Link building is the core principal of growing your businesses online presence. Whilst we know that Google has well over 300 different ranking factors, and that they place a varying amount of importance on them, links especially good, high authority links from reputable sites are vital.
According to Moz: “Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own. A hyperlink (usually just called a link) is a way for users to navigate between pages on the internet. Search engines use links to crawl the web; they will crawl the links between the individual pages on your website, and they will crawl the links between entire websites. There are many techniques for building links, and while they vary in difficulty, SEOs tend to agree that link building is one of the hardest parts of their jobs. Many SEOs spend the majority of their time trying to do it well. For that reason, if you can master the art of building high-quality links, it can truly put you ahead of both other SEOs and your competition.”
In order to understand the importance of link building, it’s important to first understand the basics of how a link is created, how the search engines see links, and what they can interpret from them.
Start of link tag: Called an anchor tag (hence the “a”), this opens the link tag and tells search engines that a link to something else is about to follow.
Link referral location: The “href” stands for “hyperlink referral,” and the text inside the quotation marks indicates the URL to which the link is pointing. This doesn’t always have to be a web page; it could be the address of an image or a file to download. Occasionally, you’ll see something other than a URL, beginning with a # sign. These are local links, which take you to a different section of the page you’re already on.
Visible/anchor text of link: This is the little bit of text that users see on the page, and on which they need to click if they want to open the link. The text is usually formatted in some way to make it stand out from the text that surrounds it, often with blue colour and/or underlining, signalling to users that it is a clickable link.
Closure of link tag: This signals the end of the link tag to the search engines.
There are two fundamental ways that the search engines use links:
- To discover new web pages
- To help determine how well a page should rank in their results
In terms of infographics, the link or links within the image can navigate the user to a dedicated landing page and the key to this is they can add value to multiple other resources and pieces of content in the same image.
What are infographics?
Infographics are a phenomenal way to get you message across to your audience. They are often one of the richest forms of content and the ease at which they can be digested, shared and written about means that they are perfect for the time savvy reader. They are one of the most-used formats in search marketing and brands know that they are vital for link building. Looking at some of the top level stats infographics are proven to increase web traffic by around 12% and over the last four years they have been adopted as a link building tactic by 65% of B2B marketers – the largest single increase in the industry.
My favourite stat however revolves around research by the Springer group who found that an incredible 323% more people respond positively to directions with text and illustrations than those that do not contain images.
On difficulty when it comes to links is that marketers need to test different methods if they are to get the best from them. Like all good SEO strategies data analysis is crucial so that you can learn what works and what doesn’t. A nice way to interpret the power and performance of an Infographic is through eye tracking.
What is eye tracking?
Eye tracking is the measurement of eye activity, it is a fast growing technology that allows us to get behind the emotion of a piece of content and allows the business who are adopting it to ask the following questions:
- Where do customers look?
- What do customers ignore?
- How does the pupil react to different stimuli?
The concept is basic, you get hard data about where the audience is looking and how they are interacting with your content, but the process and interpretation can be quite complex.
Eye tracking data is collected using either a remote or head-mounted ‘eye tracker’ connected to a computer. While there are many different types of non-intrusive eye trackers, they generally include two common components: a light source and a camera. The light source (usually infrared) is directed toward the eye. The camera tracks the reflection of the light source along with visible eye features such as the pupil.
This data is used to understand the rotation of the eye and ultimately the direction of gaze. Additional information such as blink frequency and changes in pupil diameter are also detected by an eye tracker. The aggregated data is written to a file that is compatible with eye-tracking analysis software.
Taking on board the general movement of the eye and how the user reacts is vital. We know that in western culture users read top to bottom and left to right. This means that the most important data or indeed the title should be top left, indeed over 70% of users tend to look at the left half of webpages and infographics. Another stat for designers to consider is that 80% of users only read above the fold which means that the piece has to be engaging from the off and this will encourage scrolling.
Based on the data that eye tracking provides here are the most important factors for your infographics:
- Add your branding in the top-left
- Titles should be front and centre at the top of the piece
- The leading image must be relevant and visually appealing
- Start your content on the left and make it flow from top left to bottom right
- Keep the text punchy as the drop off rate can be high if it isn’t
- The first two paragraphs or intro should contain the most important information as it is the only piece of content that you can guarantee will be read
- Add links to the content but make sure that they open in a new window so that the rest of the Infographic is still accessible
Following these tips can help you design and link to infographics such as the one below: