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Understanding Fundamentals of SEO through Visual Storytelling

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Ten years ago, “SEO” was the primary reason why so much website copy was unreadable, as every website tried to rank first for target keywords by stuffing them into every sentence. Today, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) emphasis tactics have shifted to social sharing and quality backlinks, with keywords providing just one way to alert search engines that your content is relevant.

This isn’t to say that SEO has necessarily become easier to understand or achieve; in some ways, it’s become even more complicated. But some visual storytellers are using their skills to draw maps to help users navigate SEO’s ever-changing minefield. These are our favorites.

SEO Architecture: Mastering the Building Blocks of SEO

Search Engine Land distilled the essential components of SEO into a “periodic table” of sorts— one that even a high school chemistry flunkey can understand. We like how it breaks SEO down into on-page and off-page factors, like keywords placed in URLs and outside links. What we don’t like, though, is how this infographic fails to assign high or low value to any of the tactics. Not all outside links are created equal, for example.

Picking up where Search Engine Land leaves off, ELUMYNT’s SEO “Food” Pyramid recommends how much emphasis to place on each SEO task. Here, we see that link building should actually be used sparingly and selectively (valuable information that was left out of the Periodic Table). In contrast, on-page architecture (like optimized URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions) creates a sturdy foundation for all future SEO efforts. If we had our choice, though, we’d change the pyramid graphic to something more reflective of the Internet rather than the four basic food groups and would break down the recommended “servings” into times per week or month.

Building Your SEO Strategy with Visual Aids

Not only did Mathew Barby put SEO best practices into action with phenomenal results (one-million pageviews for an SaaS startup’s website in a year makes for solid bragging rights), he also created an “SEO Blueprint” for other SaaS businesses to follow in his footsteps.

Step 1: Analysis of competitors, potential traffic opportunities, existing content, and industry content

Step 2: Massive amounts of keyword research

Step 3: Traffic generation (which could fill an entire e-book in itself)

Throughout this article, Barby posts visual aids for each of the steps, showing the tools and metrics he uses. For example, here he shows the impact of appearing on Product Hunt’s front page.

The Advanced Guide to SEO with Pandas, Penguins and a Monkey

Google understands the power that cute, fuzzy animals can wield—and so do Neil and Sujan Patel. They studded The Advanced Guide to SEO infographic with fun graphics that wouldn’t feel out of place in a kindergarten classroom, but the concepts are anything but basic. Patel says, “This resource is piled to the top with tactile, immediately actionable things you can do to your website to improve rankings, performance, and traffic.” Fluffy critters may be featured, but this colorful infographic-meets-e-book contains absolutely no “fluff” content. The content is clear, to the point, short, and (dare we say?) cute. We love how this visualization makes concepts like metadata and microdata approachable.

Understanding Sharing & Backlinks with Guestographics

Visual storytelling itself is a key SEO tactic for a number of reasons. Infographics and data visualizations like those listed above don’t just make complex information more approachable, they also facilitate easier sharing of content and backlinks. Backlinko’s Brian Dean explains his link-building formula this way:

Great Content + Targeted Outreach + Added Value = Links

From there, he uses his original infographics as guest posts (or “guestographics”) and leverages them to build links from established, higher-ranking sites. Then he sweetens the deal by offering a “mini guest post” to go with the infographic.
Leveraging guest content is one of the most powerful ways to increase your search rankings quickly, since you can effectively piggyback your rankings on the rankings of the websites linking to you. It’s one of the most important concepts in SEO, and Dean says he’s used the technique to increase his organic traffic by more than 175%.

Pet blogger Perrin Carrell used the same techniques to grow his search engine traffic by 963% in 6 weeks…

…with infographics like this.

What are your favorite visuals that make the finer points of SEO easier to follow? Share your favorite SEO data visualizations and infographics on Twitter @visageco.