Cartoons give a blog – or any website – an unfair advantage in the search engines. Cartoons can turn an unremarkable blog post into prime link-bate, and a web page into SEO rock star status.
In the crowded world of blogging, the path to success is always to distinguish yourself. There are many ways to do this; here are just a few of the more common ways to distinguish your blog within its niche:
- the length of the posts
- the approach you take to a topic, perhaps playing Devil’s advocate or assembling multiple opinions
- a unique writing style
- incredibly thorough research
By way of example, Mike at Sugar Piner Realty Blog makes a big deal of how each post is a “lightning fast read”, which makes it easy for people to click through without feeling they will be stuck reading for hours (low risk).
On the other hand Neil Patel of Quicksprout Blog prides himself on long, detailed, highly useful posts. His is one of my favourite blogs; I don’t mind being stuck reading his long text because I almost always walk away something useful and actionable (high value).
Yes. Short is awesome. Long is amazing. Both these bloggers distinguish their posts by taking exact opposite approaches. But what they share in common is that they distinguish.
Whether a post is long or short, provocative or bland, informative or opinionated, presentation also counts. These days, the value of having an image on your blog posts is indisputable.
- Pinterest is huge. No image, no Pinterest.
- FaceBook adds images from links automatically. Your link is lost on FaceBook without an image.
- Twitter is growing increasingly visual.
- Google Plus is at least as visual as FaceBook…and I don’t even know if you can post there without an image.
- Snapzu. GentleMint. Scoop.it. Manteresting. Sulia. Rockzi. Dudepins. DartItUp. Etc. Those are just the ones where I have profiles; you might know of others.
What does this have to do with SEO? I’m getting to that.
Stock photography has bloomed (not literally, except for floral photography) over the past few years, as the number of blogs continues to rise, compounded by the realization that a blog post needs an image.
Infographics have also exploded (not literally) as everybody and their pet Chihuahua’s grandmother tries to cram “everything ever known in the universe since before the beginning of time” into one handy reference image.
It could be argued that stock photography (boring!) and Infographics (seriously?) are just being done wrong. And I might well make that case in another blog post (or two). But even done right, stock photography and Infographics would have a hard time competing with cartoons.
Is this where you get to the SEO part? Shhh. Stop interrupting.
A cartoon holds a dual promise that no other medium does. It offers the likelihood that any time invested in it will bring laughter, or at least a smile … or at least some form of amusement. Chances are pretty good that you will feel good after reading a cartoon.
In a good mood, the reader might be more amenable to continuing to read the post. Enjoying the cartoon, the post might be shared just for the cartoon’s sake. Who would do that for stock photography, or even for an Infographic?
That's funny! Cartoonify your blog for top SEO results http://t.co/lUXdGfWILb
— David Leonhardt (@amabaie) December 4, 2013
Even if the cartoon sucks, you know that it won’t take more than a moment of your time, so this is a lower-rick activity than clicking through to yet another blog post on the levels of mercury found in southeast Pacific tuna. Who won’t read the cartoon?
If you have not yet heard, SEO these days is all about engagement. The more people you can get top view your content, and the more they engage with it, the better you will rank in the search engines. Lots of engaged people send lots of tweets, post lots of FaceBook comments and link back from their blogs. The natural links, just because your content is so awesome, are the Holy Grail of SEO.
eyeballs x engagement = SEO
SEO tips for cartoons (lightening fast read!)
- Make sure your cartoon is on-topic with the post.
- The cartoon does not have to re-enforce a specific point from the post, but bonus points if it does.
- Make sure the cartoon can stand on its own, out of context. It will stand a much better chance of being shared in social media.
- The cartoon does not need to have keywords in the text, but bonus points if it does.
- Make sure the image file name and alt text have keywords, unless it would look really silly.
- Make sure your URL is on the cartoon, in case it gets shared beyond your ability to track it.
- Welcome reprints (you can even give link code, the way Infographics marketers often do).
Why my cartoonfographic rocks
The most shared post on this blog is actually an Infographic. It will never win any design awards, unless someone is giving out a what-do-you-call-that-awkward-thing award. But it does do four things very well:
- It is short and sweet (lightening fast read).
- It addresses a much-talked about topic (newsworthy)
- It gives a useful, actionable framework for evaluating links (useful)
- It looks almost more like a cartoon than like an Infographic (What DO you call that awkward thing?)
Cartoons are not cheap. They are labour-intensive, so you will pay a price. If you have deep pockets, they are a great investment every day. If your pockets are shallower, you might want to be strategic in how you use cartoons.
For instance, a lot of personal finance bloggers have a mix of content on their blogs:
- useful tips and tricks for saving money, making money and keeping sane through it all
- financial product reviews
Guess which of the two types of posts is income-producing? And guest which type of post people actually like to share? One way to make the income-producing posts more shareable is with a cartoon. The result is more inbound links and more social signals to the pages that actually need to rank well in the search engines.
Another strategy would be to have a weekly or monthly cartoon, and draw people into other posts through that cartoon. To be more clear, the cartoon would be a post on its own, perhaps with a round-up of the week’s or the month’s posts to get people moving deeper into your website.
Cartoons are particularly useful for dull topics, like grain elevators or concrete mixing. Even the world’s biggest grain elevator groupie, or the world’s biggest cement curing fan would be hard-pressed to read through 800 words on those topics without yawning. Imagine, however,the fun you could have with a cartoon of a grain elevator sinking into improperly mixed cement. Ah, but now I mix my metaphors…
Cartoons are not your only option for effective and engaging images. Infographics work, too. Stock photography works, too. But cartoons do have a natural advantage, and are well worth your consideration. It could be the unfair SEO advantage that propels your blog.
DEAR READERS: What do you think makes the ideal image for a web page or blog post?Written by David Leonhardt
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