15 Types of Visual Content That Work GREAT in 2018

15 Types of Visual Content That Work GREAT

Today you’re going to see 15 types of visual content that are CRUSHING it in 2018.

(Including lots of real life examples)

So if you want to get more traffic to your site, you’ll love today’s guide.

Let’s dive right in.

How to Tap Into Visual Content Marketing

Visual content is BLOWING UP right now.

In fact, 37% of marketers cite visual content as their “most important” type of content.

The most important content formats for marketers

There’s a good reason for that:

Visual marketing is GREAT for getting backlinks, social shares and targeted traffic.

In fact, I’ve used visual content marketing to land placements on authority sites like…

Forbes:

Forbes link

Entrepreneur:

Entrepreneur link

And HubSpot:

HubSpot link

With that, it’s time for me to show you the 15 types of visual content that work best in 2018.

1. The “Concept Visual”

What It Is:

A visual version of a concept, strategy or idea.

Why It Works:

Concepts are hard to explain… but easy to visualize.

And when someone wants to explain that concept on THEIR site, they’ll use your visual.

(And link back to you)

Real Life Example:

A while back I wanted to describe “The APP Formula”.

The APP Formula is a strategy that helps you write compelling blog post introductions.

But instead of just explaining it, I created a visual version of the concept.

APP method concept – Visual

Sure enough, whenever someone talks about The APP Formula on my site, they link back to me:

APP formula backlink

(This is just one example. This simple visual has netted me AT LEAST 20 backlinks)

2. Native Video

What It Is:

Video that’s created specifically for one social network, like:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instragram
  • Twitter

Why It Works:

Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook.

Twitter wants you to stay on Twitter.

And when you post something that takes people AWAY from the platform, your post is gonna get buried.

But if you can keep people on that network, you’re golden.

And native video is the best way to do that.

In fact, BuzzSumo discovered that native videos CRUSH other types of Facebook posts.

Average total shares of Facebook videos

Real Life Example:

A few weeks ago I uploaded a short video on LinkedIn:

Backlinko LinkedIn video post

This content was from a much longer YouTube video.

I just grabbed a clip that would work well on LinkedIn…

…and uploaded it as a native video.

How did the post do?

To date my post has:

888 likes:

Backlinko LinkedIn video – Likes

And 142 comments:

Backlinko LinkedIn post – Comments

That’s the power of native video.

3. Ultimate Guides

What It Is:

A complete guide to a topic on a single page.

Why It Works:

Guides give people “one stop shopping” for information a given topic.

But for an ultimate guide to work, you need to use a custom-designed page.

Why?

A custom-designed page tells people: “This guide is legit!”.

Real Life Example:

A while back I published this guide to link building.

Link Building Guide

As you can see, it’s NOT a typical blog post.

It’s got lots of useful content… and a design that helps it stand out:

Link Building Guide – Useful content and design

To date, this single piece of content has been linked to 4.9k times.

Link Building guide backlinks

And has over 400 comments:

Link Building guide comments

4. Infographic Guest Posts

What It Is:

Guest posting on with an infographic… instead of a traditional guest post.

Why It Works:

Getting your post published on an authority site can be TOUGH.

(Especially when you’re first starting out)

But when you offer an infographic as your guest post, you’re giving the site owner an offer they can’t refuse.

Real Life Example:

When I first started my blog, I wanted to get published on one of the world’s most popular digital marketing blogs: HubSpot.

HubSpot homepage

The problem was:

I was a nobody with a tiny blog that nobody read.

Why would they want my content?

That’s when I decided:

“Instead of a traditional article, I’ll pitch them an infographic.

And it worked!

My infographic guest post was published that same week:

 

5. Data Visualizations

What It Is:

A visual form of data… like a chart or a graph.

Why It Works:

Raw numbers are REALLY hard to understand. But the right visual can make you say: “I totally get it now”.

Plus, despite the fancy name, visualizing data doesn’t have to be hard or expensive.

Speaking of…

Real Life Example:

Last year I created a guide to creating viral content.

Viral Content

But instead of just citing stats, I decided to visualize them:

Viral content stats visualization

(As you can see, these charts are NOT fancy. You can probably create something similar in Photoshop)

And just like with Concept Visuals, people started using my simple charts in their content:

Backlinko – Charts used by other sites

Nice.

6. Embedded Blog Post Videos

What It Is:

A short piece of video content (30-60 second) embedded in a blog post.

Why It Works:

Video is PERFECT for explaining certain concepts, strategies or techniques (that’s one reason that video is a super popular marketing strategy right now).

Plus, Embedded Blog Post Videos are an easy way to add multimedia to your content.

Real Life Example:

I use Embedded Blog Post Videos in lots of my posts.

Like this one where I use a video to describe a strategy:

 

Or this one where I give more context to one of the techniques in the post.

 

7. YouTube Videos

What It Is:

A video… on YouTube 🙂

Why It Works:

YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular website (Alexa).

YouTube is the world's second most popular site

(And growing FAST)

So if you’re serious about content marketing, YouTube is an absolute must.

Real Life Example:

Over the last few years I’ve been able to grow my YouTube channel from scratch to over 150k subscribers:

Backlinko YouTube subscribers

To date, my videos have been viewed over 3 million times:

Backlink YouTube video views

As you might have guessed, this has funneled a ton of people back to my website:

Note: If you want to learn more about starting a successful YouTube channel, I recommend checking out the YouTube Marketing Hub. It’s free.

8. Flowcharts

What It Is:

A way to visualize a process.

Why It Works:

A flowchart makes understanding “if X then Y” concepts a cinch.

(For example, “If your computer is frozen, restart. If that doesn’t work, run a virus scanner”)

Plus, they’re easy to embed and share.

Real Life Example:

Earlier this year I wrote a post about Google’s AI algorithm: RankBrain.

Google RankBrain SEO

And I wanted to explain how RankBrain measures the way people interact with the search results.

The problem was:

How could I visualize how this process worked?

Then it hit me: a flowchart.

So I whipped up this simple flowchart visual.

RankBrain flowchart

And this visual helped make the process easy for non-techies (like me) to understand.

User RankBrain comment

That said:

Your flowcharts don’t have to be simple. In fact, a big ol’ flowchart can give your content that “WOW!” factor that pushes people to share.

For example, here’s a giant step-by-step flowchart I created a few years back:

 

9. Explainer Infographics

What It Is:

An infographic that teaches someone a new strategy or approach.

Why It Works:

Most infographics are the same old stuff: pie charts and graphs.

Yawn.

But infographics aren’t for visualizing data.

They’re a powerful teaching tool.

Real Life Example:

This on-page SEO infographic is one of the most successful pieces of content that I’ve ever published.

 

This infographic has resulted in 825 comments:

Infographic comments

And 19,271 social media shares:

Infographic social media shares

10. Screenshots

What It Is:

An image of your screen (whether that’s your desktop PC or iPhone screen)

Why It Works:

Screenshots help bring technical content to life.

“Do X. Then click Y” is boring and hard to follow.

But SHOWING people the same thing with screenshots is an absolute cinch.

Also, they’re an easy way to create original images (especially compared to infographics and videos).

Real Life Example:

I use LOTS of screenshots at Backlinko.

Screenshots to outline a process:

Backlinko screenshot – Outlining a process

To visualize something I just explained:

Backlinko screenshot – Visualizing

Or to show people “behind the scenes” data:

Backlinko screenshot – Behind the scenes data

If you want to get fancy, try using an animated GIF instead of a static screenshot:

 

It looks cool and helps show people exactly what to do.

I use GreenShot and Jing to capture screenshots. But other people swear by Skitch.

Feel free to use whatever tool works best for you.

11. SlideShare Slidedecks

What It Is:

A set of presentation slides designed specifically for SlideShare.

Why It Works:

SlideShare is one of the world’s top 200 most-visited websites.

Despite being super popular, it doesn’t have a ton of competition for eyeballs. In fact, I’d consider SlideShare one of the biggest untapped content marketing strategies right now.

Real Life Example:

Gary Vee recently published this relatively simple deck to SlideShare:

Because the content was super valuable, his Slideshare presentation generated over 300k views in 2 weeks.

Gary Vee – Slideshare views

12. Interactive Content

What It Is:

Content that moves or changes based on how you interact with it.

Why It Works:

Interactive content INSTANTLY makes your content stand out from static blog posts on the same topic.

Real Life Example:

A few years back the New York Times released: “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek”.

NYTimes – Interactive content (top)

It not only tells a compelling story…

…but moves and changes as you scroll down the page.

 

You can also use interactive content on landing pages to make them more compelling.

13. Visual Collection

What It Is:

A curated list presented in visual form.

Why It Works:

Content curation is an awesome way to publish valuable content… without needing to create anything new. And when you make your curation visual? It increases the perceived value 10 fold.

Real Life Example:

A LOT of people have recommended books on Tim Ferriss’s popular podcast.

The problem was:

To find these books you had to listen to every single episode.

That is, until one fan created fourhourbook.club.

Four Hour Book Club

It’s a visual list of every book mentioned on the podcast.

Because this list provided so much value (and looked cool), it CRUSHED on social media platforms…like Product Hunt:

Four Hour Book Club on ProductHunt

(Which sent thousands of visits to the site overnight)

14. Co-branded Infographics

What It Is:

An infographic that you create with another person or brand.

Why It Works:

You get a nice visual asset at half the cost (assuming you split the design costs with your partner). And because you’re doubling down on promotion, your infographic has a higher chance of going viral.

Real Life Example:

In 2016 I teamed up with Larry Kim to create this high quality infographic:

 

We worked together on the content (which made the process 2x faster). And we split the costs 50/50.

Because the infographic was a joint effort, we co-branded it:

Co-branded infographic (bottom) – Close-up

But here’s where things get interesting…

Because we both promoted the infographic, we doubled the number of eyeballs that saw it.

In fact, the infographic did so well that it was the #2 most popular SEO-related post on Search Engine Land that year:

Infographic on SearchEngineLand

Not bad.

15. Cartoons and Comic Strips

What It Is:

A way to explain an idea or concept in comic strip form… usually in a humorous way.

Why It Works:

VERY few content marketers use cartoons. So it’s an easy way for your online marketing to stand out.

(Especially in B2B)

Also, comics are a surprisingly effective way to explain complicated concepts.

Real Life Example:

Well, you may already know about The Oatmeal.

The Oatmeal

It’s insanely popular site that’s almost 100% comic strips.

 

But you may not know that you can use comic strips inside of text-based content as a fun and effective way to explain something.

For example, here’s a comic I embedded in a post.

Backlinko comic embedded in a post

As you can see, this comic explains how Google tests and rolls out changes to their algorithm.

Now:

I COULD have just written out the same exact information.

But it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well.

In fact, my little comic strip got shared on marketing websites around the world:

Backlinko's comic strip shared around the world

Bonus #1: Maps

What It Is:

Data presented as a map. The map can be of a country, a state, the world… it doesn’t really matter.

Why It Works:

News sites and blogs LOVE maps. Maps tend to get a lot of social shares and traffic… so news outlets don’t mind sharing and embedding them on their site.

And if you can make a map on a newsworthy topic — bingo! — you’ve got yourself a mention from an authority site.

Real Life Example:

There are literally hundreds of examples that I could point to.

(Maps are crushing it right now)

But to give you an idea of how well a map can do, let’s take a look at this map: “Your State’s Favorite Reality TV Show”.

Your state's favorite Reality TV show

As you can see, nothing fancy.

In fact, I’d wager to guess that this map cost MUCH less than your average infographic.

Despite being simple, that map generated backlinks from 20 different sites:

CableTV map – Backlinks

Including a few links from authority B2C pop culture sites, like Cosmo.

CableTV map – Cosmopolitan backlink

How about one more example?

This map outlines how the US uses its land.

 

How did Bloomberg make this map?

They took data that was lying around (from the US Dept of Agriculture). And made it into a map.

(There are probably similar opportunities in your industry)

And this map got linked to 100k+ times in less than 2 weeks!

Bloomberg graphic – Backlinks

Insane.

Bonus #2: Blog Post Banners

What It Is:

A big banner that goes at the very top of a blog post.

Why It Works:

Simply put: it looks cool.

A banner also makes your content seem like a big deal… not just another blog post.

Especially if you compare them to what people use on their posts: lame stock photos.

Plus, they’re really easy to make (if you have graphic designs skills you can make a blog post banner using Adobe Illustrator or Canva).

Real Life Example:

I recently reviewed and rated 25 of the best free SEO tools on the planet.

And to make my content stand out, I created a banner to go at the top of the page.

Simple. Yet effective.

Conclusion

So those are 15 of the best ways to tap into visual content marketing in 2018.

(Plus 2 bonus visual content strategies)

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Which of these visual content formats have you tried before?

Or maybe you have a question about something I talked about.

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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