There’s no doubt that local search traffic can account for a significant percentage of your overall sales and conversions.
If you consider the fact that 46% of searches are local, it would only make sense that your company has a local SEO strategy in place.
Using infographics in your local SEO strategy can make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to acquiring local backlinks.
In a recent case study, I used an infographic to acquire local backlinks for Digital Ducats Inc., which led to:
- An increase in traffic by 63.64%
2. Landing a spot in the local pack for a very competitive keyword “SEO services”.
Why “local backlinks”?
One of the objectives of a local SEO strategy for link building is to obtain linked, unstructured citations. These types of links tie your business to your city and improve your ranking in the local finder as well as localized organic search results.
What is a structured citation?
A structured citation is when a website provides a specific entry to list the name of your business, address, phone number and includes a link to your website. Structured citations are considered table stakes in local SEO because they are easily acquired links.
You can acquire structured citations from sites like Manta, Yellow Pages and other local or niche directories where you can add your NAP details (Name, Address and Phone number).
There was a point in time where the number of citations you acquired was a major ranking factor that contributed to your ranking in Google’s Local Finder. Like most ranking factors that are easily manipulated, the widespread practice of acquiring a high number of citations led to the devaluation of these links.
What is an unstructured citation?
Unstructured citations, on the other hand, are a valuable commodity to your local search visibility. These types of links are much more difficult to get because they are instances of your name, address or phone number found on another local website, blog or app.
The best links for local SEO are unstructured citations from companies within your industry (or a similar vertical) that are tied to your city through a physical address or service area.
My case study
The objective of this local SEO strategy case study was to obtain branded links from Toronto-based companies to improve the local presence of Digital Ducats in both Google finder as well as the localized organic search results.
As an SEO consultant in Toronto, it made sense to target Toronto web design companies for two reasons: 1) web design is within the digital marketing industry and 2) they operate in the same city.
Rather than reaching out individually to a number of sites with a tailored pitch to guest post, it was much more efficient to publish a high-quality piece of content and ask other sites to link to it.
Infographics typically generate 178% more backlinks. By creating an infographic, my article became much more enticing for publishers to link to and share on their website.
At the core of content marketing lies quality article writing, and whether that’s on-site or off-site it comes down to providing value for your audience. In order to get people to link to your content, it has to be link-worthy. In-depth content receives 77.2% more backlinks than thin content.
Thin content can be compared to the likes of half-chewed food. It’s unappetizing, hard to digest and leaves users choking and looking for something else to wash it down.
A few characteristics of link-worthy content are that it reflects an expert opinion, incorporates original data and displays a visual element. People retain 65% of what they see as compared to 10-20% of what they read.
The combination of these criteria was the solution to publishing content to execute an effective outreach campaign.
Exactly 15 days to the day I started, I was able to publish an in-depth article titled “12 Web Design Trends In 2020 By Toronto Experts” The infographic features 18 quotes from design companies in Toronto that have earned me 6 local backlinks to date, increased traffic by 63% and triggered an appearance in the local pack.
This is why it works. As human beings, we are social animals that are evolved to communicate. One study looked into why people share content online and found that they mainly do so in order to delight others with valuable/interesting content, to identify and present ourselves to others, to foster relationships, for self-fulfillment, and to spread the word about issues or brands. An infographic like the above is valuable to the target group and is hence a vital marketing asset.
Now I’ll show you what I did and how you can use the same local SEO strategy for your business.
1. Choose a trending topic
Come up with a topic that will be a win for everyone who’s involved. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Make your topic something that will generate interest and will also make a well-designed infographic.
Choose a topic idea that is trending in order to make your content extra irresistible. Every year there are web design trends that are published, which made for an idea that every web design company could get behind. You can use Google trends or read the top blogs in your industry if you get stumped for ideas.
2. Create a list of link candidates
Start your list with the companies you’re familiar with and whom you believe will be great assets to your link building campaign. Choose companies that are in a similar vertical and are based out of the same city as your own.
To create the most opportunities for backlinks and receive enough qualified responses your outreach should target a large number of companies.
My strategy was to reach out with a mass email to every website on the first 25 pages of search results for the keyword “web design Toronto.”
Collect potential candidates
In order to populate your list of potential candidates efficiently, you can use a few plugins to speed up the process.
The first is a plugin called G-Infinity. This allows “infinite scroll” which means you can highlight multiple pages of results at a time as opposed to cutting and pasting 25 pages separately.
Extract the URLs
Once you have all the pages highlighted, use a plugin called Linkclump to extract the domains from the highlighted search results. You can adjust your settings for this plugin to extract both the title and the URL.
Select the links you want to extract by pressing “z” + the left mouse button to highlight the search results.
Paste to spreadsheet
Paste the URLs to a spreadsheet to get a list of every domain that showed up in the two hundred and fifty results you highlighted.
There will most likely be domains that have multiple pages listed in your results. Eliminate any duplicates by using conditional formatting option to highlight and delete duplicate cells.
3. Find email addresses and contact info
There are a few options to automate this process, but for bulk email extraction, the fastest options rely on paid software. Screaming Frog and Hunter are among the most popular options.
If you opt for Hunter you will need to pay their fee of $50/month at their lowest price point. This allows the bulk email extraction of multiple email addresses from each domain in one shot by pasting or importing a list of domains.
A second option for bulk extraction is to use the crawler on the paid version of Screaming Frog. Use the appropriate XPath query to prompt the crawler to locate and extract the email addresses within each domain.
Lastly, you can go line by line and find a contact email address for every domain on your list. This option has its advantages because it gives you a chance to vet your prospects and qualify them as relevant candidates for your list.
There’s bound to be irrelevant sites on your list when you extract 250 domains from the search results. The entire process won’t take you more than an hour.
If you run into a site that only has a contact form, use Hunter to find the email addresses associated with the domain.
This is a fairly quick extraction and you can choose the most appropriate email address by assessing the confidence rating (hover your mouse over the coloured dot beside the email address) and the number of sources the email address was found.
If Hunter doesn’t pull up any email address your last resort would be social media.
LinkedIn is a good option because you can get a list of people with their official job titles. Once you’re on LinkedIn click on the “people” tab to see a list of employees.
Contact the person that would best represent the company such as the CEO, President, Project Manager/Content manager.
Even if you don’t get an official quote, you can expand your network by requesting connections. Many people will accept an invitation to connect without actually answering your request for a quote.
It obviously doesn’t help in achieving your current goal but the connection may work out for a future project down the line. You can also use LinkedIn to find email addresses.
This case study yielded 21 new connections and three quotes I used in my article/infographic.
4. Craft your outreach email
It might be obvious to some, but an effective outreach email should address each of the following and include:
- An accurate subject heading
- A brief introduction
- Directly communicate your intentions
- Present value to your prospect
An original and accurate subject line will separate yourself from spammers and get your prospect to open your email to read your offer. The subject heading should state exactly what you’re offering but feel free to throw in anything that might make your email more enticing.
Here is the actual email from my initial outreach:
I received most responses within two days of sending the first email. I followed up with a second email, 5 days afterwards and received 3 more replies.
Make sure you check your spam box for any replies that may have gone astray. I rescued two responses from my spam box-one of which made the final list of quotes.
5. Create your content and infographic
Expert roundups are excellent forms of content to produce because they are informative, make for attractive infographics and they practically write themselves.
View our expert roundup: 10 Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2020
The quality of your content heavily depends on how well you communicate to your experts the major theme of what you’re trying to teach/show people. Have a clear idea of what your audience should be able to take away after reading your infographic in order to get the best responses from your experts.
Be specific about what you need from your contributors in terms of depth because if you get one word or one-sentence answers, your article will take a lot more writing on your behalf. Ask for a paragraph or an approximate word count so you have plenty of content to work with from your experts.
Ask your contributors to send images with their responses. Original images make your content exceedingly more interesting than generic template images or even worse, stock images.
Using images from Pixabay to add to a blog post might pass for acceptable, however, those images are easily recognized and lower the perceived value of your infographic.
In an expert round-up (or any list styled form of content), aim for a list that includes over 8 points. The advantage of this is that you can get a better click-through rate-should your content rank in the featured snippet. Google shows up to 8 list items in the featured snippet and if there are more list items users will have to click-through to see them.
Keep in mind: headlines that include the number 10 get the highest click-through rate and the highest number of shares.
Repurpose your article into an infographic
Once you’ve finalized your article, you’re going to highlight the main points as the featured line items on your infographic.
Choose the organizational format that will suit your content best.
My article listed 12 different trends, making a linear, single-column infographic the best choice to communicate these points.
Your choice in format should represent the easiest way for your audience to digest your information (keep in mind people read from left to right and top to bottom).
Choosing a template will save you loads of time as opposed to creating an infographic from scratch. Look for an option with a colour scheme that matches the context of your content and sets the right tone for your audience.
Customize your infographic as much as possible to give it the most original look and have the most impact on your audience.
Use your own images in as many places as possible.
Take your template design to the next level by using as many of the stylized text options in place of the standard text that your template has been made with.
For example, this is the template version:
After customizing the text, adding a custom image and a gradient background this was the result:
Remember that although the templates have been professionally designed, your infographic will stand out from the crowd the more you customize its features.
Explore the tools you have available for customizing-there are dozens of options to enhance your infographic which will make something as simple as text more exciting.
A little effort will go a long way.
6. Optimize your content
Make sure you address all on-page optimization factors and include your keyword in the following:
- Meta description
- First paragraph
- In the filename of your infographic
- In the alt tags
Create jump links if your content is over 2000 words to improve your on-page SEO. They add a nice touch to your page and improves user experience by helping users and search engines easily navigate the information in your article.
7. Promote your content
Before you publish your article install an embed code directly underneath your infographic to encourage users to share it on their website and social media. Siege Media has an embed code generator you can use to create an embed code.
After filling out all of the sections, the generator will provide a code that links your infographic to the source page and embeds a branded anchor text link within a short description.
Ask your local experts to share your infographic
Once you’ve published your article/infographic, give all of your contributors a heads up email to let them know your article is live.
Within the same email, ask them if you can send over the code so they can share it on their blog.
In order to get the best type of link from each local website, you will need to write an original description for each company that is willing to share your infographic.
Your unstructured citation should be a contextual, branded, anchor text link you include in each description before your infographic. This is what you’re working for and represents the objective of this entire project.
Promote your infographic for additional backlinks
Share your article on all of your social profiles. Leave a call to action on each post to increase the number of shares your infographic receives.
Submit your infographic to infographic directories. There are both paid and free directories to choose from and you can find a list of them here.
You can also republish your article on sites that allow you to syndicate your content. Business 2 Community, Site Pro News and Bizsugar can get your infographic additional exposure and generate a few more backlinks to your page.
The real prize is the links from your local experts and contributors. Make sure you address any concerns and make any changes or edits that they request. Securing the links from your local link prospects is the top priority.
There are a dozen ways to get local links to your website, however, using infographics can increase the likelihood of another site linking to yours.
Produce original, link-worthy content that people want to read to get local companies to share your infographic and link back to your content.
Securing local links increases your site’s competitive ranking ability in localized search results. Make it a win-win situation by producing high-quality content that will naturally attract links and drive traffic to your website as well as the sites of your local experts who share your work.
The links you get from companies in a similar vertical to your niche will improve your credibility and enhance your local presence for searches related to your city. An appearance in the local pack for important keywords is a profitable contribution to the traffic and conversions your website generates.
As a conclusion to the case study on the effect infographics had on attracting backlinks, I can confidently say they provided a much more enticing option for companies to share on their site than the offer to guest post.
This case study has confirmed that content is king, however visual content seems to be the prized jewel in the crown. If you’re looking for a good way to increase local traffic, you can incorporate infographics in an expert roundup to acquire local links and to get your site on the map.