SEO and Data Content

If you want your content to be discovered on the internet, it must be SEO friendly. Period. A lot of people, including Neil Patel, believe that if you include an infographic or data visualization in your blog post, you don’t need anything else. And that’s just not true. While infographics and data visualizations are fantastic for creating backlinks, they fail at creating context web crawlers can understand. So, if you want to make your data content truly evergreen content, you must optimize them for search.

Stand Alone vs SEO Optimized Content

A 10x increase in traffic

Traffic data based on client websites. Data from Google Analytics.

What Data Content Does Well

Data content is such a popular marketing tool because it does somethings fantastically well. Particularly, they are highly shared content that boosts your back-link profile and social clout.

Backlinks

We have an entire article on how to optimize your backlinks with data visualizations. But what makes them so great is that left to their own devices, they make people want to share them on their own. They offer high quality, and authoritative content that social media users and bloggers want to use. If you have an interesting story to tell, data content should help boost your social media profile.

Example of Backlinks Over Time

Example of backlinks over time

Backlinks over time from a client. Data based report from SEMRush

Metadata

If your visualization is stored as an image, then it is primed to include meta data. This will help it be indexed in
What Data Content Does Not Do Well
Data content is not friendly to google indexing. Period. No matter how much metadata you put into the picture, your visualization, chart or infographic will never see the front page of google on any meaningful keyword on its own. This is because when web crawlers come across your site, they’re not looking at words and context in an image or in JavaScript. Instead, they’re looking for plain text in the article. So, if your data content isn’t wrapped in carefully constructed text, then it’s never going to get the attention it deserves.

Text for Context

This is the most important part. If your visualization on the front page, Google needs to understand what the visualization is about. And that means writing. A lot. In fact, the top ranked pages often have 1,000-2,000 words.

Formatting

You’ve written your 2,000-word essay. Fantastic! Now we must optimize it so google understands exactly what’s going on. That means using headers to create order for your blog post and provide further context. For review, google will read an h1 header as the most important, an h2 and a sub-topic within the h1 subject and so on. You need to use this to create an organization around your data content.

The most basic way to this is by removing the title and caption from the image and placing them in the blog text. Place the title as a header, and the text as plain text. Here is an example:

 

Indexed Words

Doing this will allow google to read the text associated with the visualizing and better index your content.

What Not To Do

There are a few traps you must avoid when creating data content. The first is already covered, which is don’t depend too much on your visualization. The second is a special case, which is be wary of JavaScript.

Using TOO much JavaScript

Creating interactive and/or animated visualizations using JavaScript can be fantastic. It helps create data content that would be impossible to make otherwise. You can also use JavaScript to embed visualizations from services like Tableau. In either case, they can be of massive benefit to your users. But they can also slow the page load time. And none of the data inside the JavaScript will be indexed. In fact, if there is too much JavaScript on a page, Google will see your page as less efficient and will rank you lower than other pages.

Putting it Into Practice: Advanced Strategies

Now, let’s put it all together. How does this look in practice? Well, I believe there are two major strategies when creating SEO friendly data content. I call them the “Integrated Strategy”, and the there’s “Disconnected Strategy”.

Integrated Strategy

This is the simplest one to explain because it most closely resembles a standard blog post. Basically, the visualizations, with their respective headers and explanations, are integrated into the blog post itself. You can make them larger to draw the users focus, but what you basically have is a standard blog post that has the data content as its centerpiece, and then uses the text not only for indexing, but also to act as a supplement to the visualizations.

Disconnected Strategy

This is best when you are using some sort of standalone graphic. Something like a video, interactive visualization or long form infographic. In all these cases, all the value is in the data content. Which leaves you with a problem, because if you wrap it in 2,000 words, that value will be washed out or lost. So instead you must create a separate set of content just for SEO, that will fall below the main content.

The biggest benefit of this is that if your content truly is valuable, then all of the analytics that help increase SEO, like bounce rates and time on site, will be taken care of by the data content. Which means that you can use the text for the sole purpose of indexing. You can craft the perfect article so that google believes this page to be a master of the subject. And since your data content is more interesting than any article, it will see users responding properly. This is a strategy I have used to much success as well as top sites like Smart Asset.

Summary

If I were to wrap up the theme of this article, it’s simple. Take what you know about search engine optimization and your data content. And marry them together in a way that maximizes your SEO.

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