Archive for November, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Why Visual Assets > Infographics – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The marketing industry seems to have a love-hate relationship with infographics. When they’re really done well, they can be effective ways of conveying a lot of complex information in a way that’s easier to digest. The problem is that relatively few of today’s infographics are really done well, and many are simply created for shallow SEO benefit.

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about the differences between infographics and visual assets, and why the latter are far more effective in our efforts.

Whiteboard Friday – Visual Assets better than Infographics_1

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard:

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition to of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m going to take a stance. It’s a little bit of a strong and contrarian stance. I’m going to say that I really, really dislike most infographics. In fact, not even most. The vast majority of infographics I strongly dislike. And that said, I really like visual assets. Today I’m going to try and explain the difference to you and show you why I’m a huge believer in one and such a disrespecter of the other.

So the typical infographic and the thing that frustrates me about it so much is that it’s really designed primarily to get embeds, to get links, potentially to get some traffic and build some branding. But it’s actually not optimized for a lot of these things. In fact, because the medium has both become so overused and because the execution on many of them is such poor quality, I find that they often hurt more than they help. Because of that, I’m not a fan.

So here is your typical infographic. How obsessed are Facebook users with celebrities? Oh my gosh, look, 35% have liked a celebrity’s page, and look, more and more people have liked more and more celebrity pages over time. Here’s a picture of some people, and here are words in some graphic format that’s really hard to read and unnecessary illustrations on the side just to ornament this thing up.

Then they hope that someone is going to pick it up and embed it on their news site, and occasionally this stuff does work. In fact, for a few years now it has worked. The challenge is it keeps going down and down and down. It’s reaching a point of diminishing returns, and I think that’s because audiences are really tired of the infographic format or are getting very tired, especially more sophisticated and savvy audiences, which for a lot of B2B and even many B2C marketers, let’s face it, we are reaching those areas.

Also, these things can be tremendously burdensome to try and put on a web page. They’re hard to read a lot of the time. So it makes it challenging even when someone does embed it. Google has said specifically that they’re looking at algorithmic ways that they can work around infographics that get embedded that people didn’t really mean to or intend to link back, and they are merely doing a link to the infographic because of the embed itself.

This kind of stuff, eh, I’m just not about that. I don’t think that most of us in the inbound marketing field should be about that, despite the potentially positive impact that something very similar can have.

So these are visual assets. There are many different kinds of visual assets. In fact, I would say infographics, traditional infographics are just one type of visual asset and possibly not the best one. In fact, probably not the best one in my opinion.

Photos, just a collection of pictures from relevant and interesting people, events, places, even concepts that are illustrated, these get picked up. They get shared around the web. They’re useful for social media networks. But they’re also useful to have in a photo library that people might take and use for all kinds of different reasons.

Charts and graphs that illustrate or explain the numbers behind a story or a phenomenon, these can be incredibly useful, and they get picked up and used all the time by sources that want to quote the numbers and even by sources that originated the numbers that are looking for visual ways to represent them. This is a phenomenal way to build value through visual assets.

Visual representations, I do stuff like this all the time. Think of the SEO Pyramid. It starts at the base with accessibility, and then we talk about keywords and links, social, user and usage signals, and all that kind of stuff. I’ve done some visuals like that on Whiteboard Friday, things like the ranking factors by distribution through the pie chart explaining those different things.

I’ve done stuff like the T-shaped web marketer, talking about going deep in a particular niche, but having a lot of cross domain expertise. These are not high-quality graphics. They’re made by me. I use Flash 6 to make these things, because I learned Flash way back in my days as a web designer. I’m lazy and have not learned to get good at Illustrator or Photoshop in particular. Yet, they get picked up and sent all over the place, and you can see visual assets doing the same thing in all sorts of niches.

Comics, illustrations, or storyboards that tell a narrative visually, incredibly popular and get picked up all the time. Screen shots; even just a simple screen shot with some annotation and explanation, examples of what to do, how to use it, how to interpret that information, layering on top some data, these types of visual assets have huge caché and value.

You get a lot more opportunity from these kinds of visual assets, in my opinion and experience, for links, for referencing, being referenced by media outlets, by industry resources, by third parties, by people in your professional or personal sphere. You have more of an opportunity for embeds because they’re much simpler to embed, and they can be useful in so many more places than an infographic, which really needs to take up an entire post about it if it’s going to get referenced at all.

They give a lot more value to people. They’re simple to consume, to understand, and they’re useful and usable in ways that infographics often are not. And, a lot of the time they’re far simpler to execute. It doesn’t take a graphic designer to produce a ton of these different types of resources. It often doesn’t cost very much, if anything at all, to make them, and that means you can produce a far greater quantity of visual assets than you could of infographics and have potential there to get links, to get references, to build your brand in really authentic ways.

So I’m sure there will be some vigorous debate and discussion in the comments, and I look forward to it. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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PostHeaderIcon Gigabyte Goes for the Kill with G1.Sniper Z87 Motherboard

Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z87A killer board for gamers and overclockers

Heading into the weekend, Gigabyte announced the launch of its latest gaming motherboard, the G1.Sniper Z87. Gigabyte made the announcement at Blizzcon 2013, one of the biggest U.S. gaming events of the year. It’s a fitting place to unveil the G1.Sniper Z87, which combines aggressive looks with high-end hardware like an AMP-UP audio feature and Killer E2200 networking.

Gigabyte paid a lot of attention to its board’s audio scheme. It has an upgradeable on-board OP-Amp, USB DAC-UP for clean, noise-free power delivery to any DAC, gain boost with onboard switches to select between 2.5x and 6x amplification, integrated Creative Sound Core3D audio processor, audio noise guard to protect against EMI, and a few other odds and ends.

Outside of audio, the G1.Sniper Z87 sports four DDR3 DIMM slots with support for up to 32GB of memory, two PCI-E x16 slots, three PCI-E x1 slots, two regular PCI slots, half a dozen SATA 6Gbps ports with RAID support, 6 USB 3.0 ports, 7 USB 2.0 ports, and more.

No word yet on when the Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z87 will be available or for how much.

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PostHeaderIcon Using Google+ to Appear in the Top Results Every Time – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Many marketers are wondering about the effects of Google+ on search results, and for anyone with a Google+ profile, a few personalized searches make those effects quite apparent. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Marshall Lee the vampire king (don’t be afraid, it’s just Rand) explains how having the right circlers on Google+ can lead to top-ranked results for even the broadest of queries in their SERPs.

Whiteboard Friday – Using Google+ to Appear in the Top Results Every Time

In case you’re unfamiliar, Rand is Marshall Lee the Vampire King.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard:

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a spooooky Halloween edition of Whiteboard Friday! I’m wearing some fangs this week, so if you have some trouble understanding me, don’t worry, all the text is right down there below.

I wanted to talk a little about using Google+ to appear in Google’s top results. It’s really interesting what we’ve been observing over the last few weeks and months of Google’s development, so check this out. If I do a search for “data science,” and I’m logged into my Google+ account (which is “randfish,” right—randfish@gmail), I see under data science “How Moz’s Data Science Team Works.” Which is pretty weird, actually—I think that’s very strange, because this was just posted on our Dev Blog, which isn’t on our main site. It’s a subdomain, and it doesn’t rank very well. If you search and you’re not logged in, you won’t find it in the first 100 results at all. It’s showing up here because it’s been shared by an account that I follow. It’ll say, “Moz shared this.” And that’s happening because of the Google+ integration.

You might say, “Okay, that’s moderately interesting.” I can search for very broad things, too, like “industry survey,” and get—yes, the S&P Industry Survey of the Americas, the Standard & Poors—but then I get “Take the 2013 Moz Industry Survey.” Whoa! Suddenly Moz is ranking all over the place. Again, this is happening because Jonathon Colman, Dharmesh Shah, Pete Meyers, and one other person I follow on Google+ +1’d it. Google+ biasing again.

And there’s more. I tried some queries for “happy Halloween.” Happy Halloween—think how broad a search query that is. There was a post by Gianluca that he had shared today with a photo, and that showed up in my results. Consumer purchasing power—a Google+ post by Avinash Kaushik showed up because it was shared and I follow him. Patrick Stewart! Patrick Stewart, I mean it’s a celebrity query that gets millions of searches a month (well, probably hundreds of thousands because Star Trek TNG hasn’t been on for a while, but in our hearts it’s always been on). A post by George Takei, right? I follow George Takei on Google+ so a post from him about Patrick Stewart is in there (it was a delightful post, by the way).

What this means for marketers, particularly SEOs who are using search and social and content together in their marketing, is the audience on Google+ is becoming more and more valuable to us. These are search-savvy, tech-savvy folks who are potentially reachable, and reachable without the classic kinds of ranking signals. I don’t have to do one tenth of the work that I had to do to rank for these types of queries before. All I have to do is get you to follow me on Google+.

Even if these people aren’t using Google+ as a social network—even if they’re not visiting, and they’re not sharing things and following people and +1’ing—it doesn’t matter, because they’re still being biased so long as they follow your account. So long as you’re encircled by those individuals, it’s valuable. And by the way, this is not just happening to people who have set up Google+ and are actually following you. It happens to anyone who is logged into a Google account, and has connected with you over email. Meaning, they’ve exchanged one or a few emails back and forth—it can’t just be you spamming them, it’s got to be that you’re actually receiving email from them as well.

Gmail is another way to get this same sort of bias. You can see it in there if you’re logged into your Gmail account, and you can see “Hey, I’m not following this person on Google+. Oh, we’ve exchanged emails, so they’re showing me these results higher that they’ve +1’d.”

Google+ sharing obviously is critical because of these influential factors, to SEOs in particular. But, be very careful, because think about this—if I shared every single page that I wanted to rank on just so that anyone who followed me on Google+ would be biased to seeing it? I would soon lose subscribers. In fact, I’m sure I would lose them very fast. People would be like, “What the hell is Rand doing filling up my stream? None of these have +1s.” It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Google is using some indication of metrics around usage to actually determine, “Hey, wait a minute, this is getting no +1s, no shares, no comments; why would I show this to anybody? I’m pushing it down in the results. I’m not going to show it.”

These are all things that did receive quite a lot of activity. Well, actually, Gianluca’s post hadn’t received any activity yet, but it was very recent and lots of his posts do receive activity. So, if you overshare, you have to be careful—I like to say I think discretion is key here. Also, even if you don’t have a Google+ audience, it doesn’t matter because influencers—people who do have audiences on Google+—might be sharing your stuff.

That’s fascinating to imagine. It’s almost like “Hey, I don’t use Twitter, but if I can just get someone to tweet some of this stuff for me, I know I’ll get traffic.” Well, on Google+, it’s not just the traffic you’ll get—you’ll also get high rankings from all of their audience. It’s really remarkable.

By the way—one thing of warning. There is a time decay on this stuff. I don’t see all of the posts that George Takei has historically made (historically, I can barely say “historically” with these teeth)—that he’s historically made about Patrick Stewart, I only see the ones from just recently. So, there’s a time decay factor, it looks like between a week and a month, depending on which accounts you’re following and what types of queries you’re doing—at least that’s what I’m seeing in my accounts. Being aware of that time decay means that if there’s a topic that’s very valuable, and you know you have a potential social audience to reach that’s either following you on Google+ or connecting with you through email, that might mean that publishing on a regular basis—I might say “Hey, if ranking for consumer purchasing power is really important to me, maybe I want to put up a blog post every month or two about consumer purchasing power.”

What’s crazy is you don’t need exact keyword matching. The post about Patrick Stewart here did not have exact keyword matching, so this is a very broad algorithm that’s currently biasing to show these Google+ results. This is an incredibly powerful tool for search marketers and social marketers, and I think it’s something that is going to get a lot more attention in the year to come.

With that, everyone, happy Halloween!

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