21 Resources to Improve Your Visual Content [UPDATED]

You’ve probably already figured out that visual content is valuable to marketing—it’s eye-catching, can be processed more quickly than text, and helps add variety to written content. But how do you choose the right images for your brand, avoid copyright infringement, or even create your own original visual content if you don’t have a design background? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more in the link roundup below.

Getting Started

The Science of Great Visuals

You shouldn’t have to wildly stab in the dark to come up with effective visuals for your website, blog, or social media channels. This post looks at design ideas such as the value of a simple layout, how fonts can match a brand message, and how certain colors evoke strong emotions and promote sharing.

How to Get More Engagement with Your Visual Content (Infographic)

After sharing some statistics on the value of visual content, this infographic dives into some actionable tips to help you create images that will make your audience take notice. One of the things I found most useful in this infographic was the breakdown of all the different image dimensions for the biggest social media platforms. Refer to this guide to avoid ever awkwardly cropping a social media photo again.

Want People to Share Your Visual Content? Avoid These 6 Common Mistakes

Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to see examples of what not to do. This article covers some of the most common mistakes brands make in visual content marketing, from using images that don’t fit the message to obscuring images with too much text.

Tips for Creating a Visual Content Marketing Strategy

This slide show put together by the Content Marketing Institute relays what classic children’s stories can teach us about visual content marketing and how to implement these ideas in our strategies.

Useful Tools

100 Brilliant Color Combinations and How to Apply Them to Your Designs

If you’re an aspiring graphic designer, or even if you’re a non-designer tasked with creating visuals for your company, you may want to bookmark this post and reference it whenever you need to create a colorful image. The 100 palettes shared here are helpfully broken down into 4 categories: nature-inspired, food and drink-inspired, travel-inspired, and everyday item-inspired.

7 Best Visual Marketing Apps to Create Social Media Graphics

I don’t have a background in design, so whenever I need to create or edit images, I rely on free, user-friendly tools like Canva and Pixlr. You can learn about these and 5 other handy online design tools in this post.

The Ultimate List of Visual Content Tools

While it’s generally better to use original images whenever possible, this post contains a good list of sites where you can find high-quality, free images to incorporate in your content. It also has a list of easy-to-use design tools, including tools you can use to create and edit images directly from your smartphone or tablet.

Going Beyond the Basics

Animate Your Social Media Marketing with GIFs

Have you ever considered using GIFs (short, looped animations, usually from TV shows or movies) to add some humor to your marketing? Check out this post to learn how to use GIFs well and avoid copyright issues. (Note: This post says that you can’t share GIFs on Facebook, but Facebook recently issued an update that allows for GIFs in status updates.)

How to Create a Cinemagraph in 7 Easy Steps

Cinemagraphs—still photos with subtle, looped animation added in—look pretty cool and can definitely help your images stand out on social media. If you have Photoshop and a little bit of time, use this step-by-step guide to learn how to make your own cinemagraphs.

This Is Your Brain on Emojis

Whether you’re a fan of the trend or not, it’s becoming more and more common for people to communicate using tiny smiley faces, palm trees, hearts, and other emojis. Check out some examples of brands that get emojis right and read through tips to use emojis in your marketing without being obnoxious.

The Power of Instagram

How to Promote Your Business with Instagram

Instagram can be a great place for brand exposure, as long as you don’t take an overly sales-oriented approach. This article has some useful tips for how to fit in on Instagram and even collaborate with social influencers to build your following.

How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram

This Buffer blog post shares the value of posting on Instagram consistently, engaging with similar accounts, cross-promoting on other platforms, and more. And the nice thing about this guide is that all the tips are backed up by cold, hard research.

These Luxury Hotel Ads Use Instagram Shots Instead of Professional Photos

This is a great example of how user-generated photos can help build credibility. If you decide to go for this approach, just make sure you get permission to use the photos in your advertising!

Getting Social

How Much is Too Much Visual Content on Social Media?

It’s a question that’s worth thinking about before you start making every single social media update an animal meme. Marketing experts weigh in here, and the general conclusion seems to be that it’s important to have a variety of content types, and that images are appropriate as long as they are on-brand and do not distract from your message.

10 Simple Design Hacks to Increase Your Social Media Traffic with Visual Content

Some of my favorite tips from this Canva post are to think of your page headers as a billboard, make the most important terms biggest when using typography, and share visuals that encourage your audience to reply.

5 Visual Storytelling Tips to Power Your Content Marketing on Facebook

This post reminds us that videos on Facebook get twice the shares of text posts and links combined—so you’d better make sure you’re using images to tell compelling brand stories. You’ll get some helpful tips on how to do that here.

4 Visual Marketing Ideas to Boost Twitter Engagement

Twitter may not be as big on images as Instagram and Facebook, but you can still share images on the platform and should absolutely take advantage of that.

11 Killer Tips to Leverage SlideShare’s Power in Your Visual Content Marketing

SlideShare is often overlooked as a social platform, but with an average of 3 billion presentation views per month and more traffic from business owners than any other major social media site, it clearly has a lot of potential as a visual content marketing tool.

Top 5 SlideShare Marketing Tips

Want to learn how to generate leads from SlideShare? This is the article for you.

How to Get More from SlideShare

The advice in this post is worth listening to because it’s coming straight from the people behind SlideShare. This is a good place to start if you’re trying to figure out what kind of visual content does well on this platform.

Bonus Resource

70+ Free Image Sites to Make Your Content Dazzle

While I already shared SEMRush’s list of where to find free images online, I also wanted to share this even more expansive list. The more options you have for free images, the less likely you are to end up recycling the same overused stock photos in your online content. Just remember to review the licensing rules for each site and give credit where credit is due!

Know of any great articles on visual content that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

How to Stand Out from the Content Marketing Crowd in 2015

Here’s a frightening statistic: more than 2.73 million new blog posts are published every day. On a positive note, this shows that the overwhelming majority of businesses now recognize the power of content marketing to increase brand awareness and generate leads. Unfortunately, this also means that there’s a glut of not-so-great content, and making your voice heard over the clangor can be challenging. So how do you make an impact when it seems like everybody’s using the same basic content strategies? Try these five tips to stand out from the crowd this year. Read more

Good Content Hasn’t Changed: How to Take Advantage as a Company

On a recent trip to Mexico, I pulled out the in-flight magazine and began to flip through the pages as I prepared for a couple of hours of boredom in the usual tiny, cramped space that airlines pass off as a seat these days. The content immediately got my attention, and I was soon immersed in the descriptive prose that revealed interesting tidbits about both obscure and commonplace travel destinations alike. The photography was vibrant and seducing. I wanted to experience these places immediately. Then it hit me: This is good content, and this is what good content has always been. This magazine was obviously compiled by businesses for advertising, but it was informative, powerful, and well-researched, just as any good journalistic periodical might be. It was really advertising at its best. Read more

Destination Marketing: Content that Captures the Imagination

These days the vacation decision-making process begins with a search query. A study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT showed that 65% of leisure travelers start their vacation search online with no idea of their next destination. So is the travel marketing industry really taking advantage of this? According to many experts in the field, they are not. Read more

4 Online Marketing Strategies that are Vital to Your Success

In the eternally evolving world of the internet and online marketing, there are always innovative new ways of attracting and keeping your customers. We give you Leverage in 2014 with four core online marketing strategies that must be implemented for continued success in generating leads and revenue online this year and beyond. Read more

4 Huge Tactics To Get Clients To Walk Through The Door

The most important thing any business needs to do to survive is reach customers. Traditionally, this can mean cold calls, billboards, flyers, and a slew of other advertising means. However, inbound marketing allows businesses to create a web presence that encourages clients to seek out and make use of the company. Harnessing this ability can be difficult, so being aware of the options and goals of this type of marketing are vital to being effective.

Social Feeds

Social media is an amazing way to connect with clients immediately and intimately. Being able to post updates about your business and useful tidbits that would intrigue clients is a great way to connect with people and keep your name in the forefront of the customer’s mind. Moreover, your clients have a way to give praise and discuss concerns directly with you. As soon as they contact your business, you can reply and meet whatever needs they put forth, even if it’s just needing a thank you for a compliment.


Blogs are a great way to share your expertise with your clients. You have knowledge about your field that is both useful and powerful. When you give that information in a simple and accessible way, your clients will be able to take advantage of your knowledge and you’ll be establishing your company as an expert in the field. When it comes time to buy product or start a service, those clients will be drawn to you.


Though one of the most underutilized forms of inbound marketing, eBooks are a great way to find leads. In essence, an eBook is a source of information about something your clients want to know in depth. You can post the first page or two as a taste, then ask the client to download the eBook if they want to read the rest. In exchange for the download, you ask only for contact information. Every person who reads this free literature is someone who is interested in your company and someone you can reach out to.

Search Engines

For many people today, the first way they try to find a product or service is online. Making your company’s website appear on search engines is an absolute necessity to be found. There are many tactics that can accomplish this, but basically you want to create a site that has a significant amount of relevant content and keywords that people are likely to search for. You can also create a site map that helps search engines determine exactly what you offer and where it’s located.

Bringing customers to you is essential to thriving in today’s marketplace. Whether your company is a one person start up or a fortune 500, a social and content driven site will bring more people in. When you’re ready to see your leads and site visits increase, explore Leverage Marketing to see what they can do for you.

Back To Basics – SEO Content Writing

Say farewell to the days of keyword stuffing and to text that reads poorly.  2012 has been a year of cleaning up for Google.  In the wake of these updates, we find ourselves revisiting our SEO campaigns to make sure that our SEO content writing strategies we have in place for our clients don’t cause rankings to drop thus hurting opportunities for conversions.  Writing for SEO has become more about delivering a better user experience.

What keeps your visitors interested in you?  What keeps your visitors interested in your products? What keeps your visitors ON your website?

As most of my colleagues know, my writing for SEO was based on a love/hate relationship. I’ve had to make several adjustments that have taken many lessons and lots of practice.  With my new lessons and techniques in hand, I would like to share with you what new lessons I have learned throughout my time at Leverage Marketing.

For my writing to be successful, I have followed several tips. Most of these tips are basic SEO content techniques, but some are SEO content writing techniques that have been taken up a notch.

An Interested Reader – Doesn’t Read the Entire Page Content *GASP*

It’s the truth.  When writing for SEO, remember that your readers are only going to consume a short amount of information. When you land on a website that ranks well for the information you searched for, what is the first thing that grabs your attention? The content on the page or a call to action?  When you read the content, most of the time unless you are reading a book, you stop before you come to the middle of your screen.  If you don’t find what you are looking for above the fold, you have lost interest and have moved on to the next page or site in search for your 411. As a SEO content writer, your best and most important work should be above the fold. It is vital to your website and conversions that you get your point across quickly and efficiently.

Headings that Convert

Every company has unique selling points and benefits that differentiate themselves from the competition. Keeping a balance of your differences and benefits with focused keywords is key to capturing your audience’s eye with headings. I have learned that a general rule of thumb to follow is to include a major selling point or call to action in your H1, second major H2 and so on. Remember, your job as a SEO writer is to keep the visitor interested, and help them find what they need and get them to convert.

Call To Action

Make sure you remind the reader why they came to your page. Place call to actions more than once on your page, but make sure your call to actions are in alignment. We don’t want to confuse the audience by sending them mixed messages.

I haven’t the chance to use this technique in my own SEO writing, but I have read positive stories about the use of:

Bullet Points

I was thinking the same thing…how can bullet points help my SEO content writing be interesting and informative?  But after reading some of the benefits that bullet points bring to the table, it’s definitely worth a try.

Dylan Thomas of Search Engine Journal tells us “Like headings, bullet points offer dual incentives for your SEO. They break up the page and stand out from the rest of the text, which means they’ve got a better chance of being read.” He also goes on to say that the information listed in the bullet points can be prominently linked to relevant internal pages.

Each SEO campaign has different goals. But within these goals, still lies the goal to rank well, to increase traffic and to make a sale of some sort. If you use some of the SEO tips that I have provided, your goals can see improvements. If you use your keywords in interesting copy intended for the audience and not the search engines, you will see a difference in your websites results.


Content is Key

Maneuvering the social media landscape can be a tricky business: DON’T link your Twitter to your Facebook account; DO feed your blog. DON’T deactivate commenting on your fan page; DO monitor the conversation for inappropriate or offensive comments (which you are responsible for managing.) DON’T self-promote; DO send out valuable content and engage with your customers. There’s a lot to remember, and the fact that it’s constantly evolving with new best practices being developed almost weekly, using social media as a marketing and branding tool has become a full-time job.

Research shows that social networking sites aren’t the best medium for advertising… yet. Users are still resistant to social media ads as being intrusive in this particular space. If social media is one of the most effective marketing tools but advertising isn’t being well-received, then it’s engagement that customers are seeking.

Content is key to effectively building a brand and generating word-of-mouth. Some recent stats published by eMarketer show inbound marketing channels as the most cost effective approach to generating leads over outbound marketing, with LinkedIn and blogs being at the top for successfully turning leads into customers, meaning brands need to allocate funds for creative and valuable content creation. There’s a good 70 / 30 rule of thumb that branders and marketers should follow when publishing updates on any social media site. Only 30% of status updates should be self-promotional content while the remaining 70% should be valuable content that is interesting, educational, or sparks a dialogue with followers. It’s also a good idea to monitor the frequency of status updates depending on which platform you’re utilizing. For example, it’s common practice to tweet 3 – 5 times a day, whereas Facebook and LinkedIn only require your attention once a day.

As Jeffrey Eisenberg summarized during his keynote at PubCon last week, “meaningful interaction with your audience will result in conversions and a positive relationship with the customer. –Marketing Pilgrim

At Risk of Being Redundant; Google On Duplicate Content

Part of the job for the PPC or SEO analyst, consists of debunking… a large part of our job revolves around explaining rumors and misreads. For years, we’ve had to explain a particular twist of semantics that somehow has convinced people that if you have duplicate content on a web site, Google takes out a pen and puts a black mark by your name.

No, Virginia, there is no duplicate content penalty – at least not the way people think.

When faced with multiple pages that look too much alike, Google has to decide what’s what – why it’s seeing double, or whether there’s any malicious intent with what it’s finding. For the most part, the average website doesn’t practice malicious copying, nor do they usually scrape content from other sites. What happens is they end up with catalogs and parts listings that contain 80% plus duplicate wording, or end up with 16 different possible ways to land on the “same page” because there are that many different search options in their web catalog that will land you on the same exact item. This can cause confusion.

Google’s basic, and hopefully final, word on the subject is simple – when we find a bunch of pages that look really similar, we group them into a “cluster,” then we pick a single URL to represent all pages in that cluster. But then they do something else that the average webmaster probably never even notices.

“We then consolidate properties of the URLs in the cluster, such as link popularity, to the representative URL.”

Notice the absence of any pens, or black marks, or slaps, or shackles or any other form of “punishment.” They just group all “duplicated” pages and consolidate the info under one indexed URL. For the average e-commerce site, this is not a problem.

But let’s say you are one of these folks who has 854,000 items in a dynamic, database-driven catalog and all items are shown on a “shell” page that gets populated by the shopper’s query when they’re looking for their item, but because of the way your catalog is built, the ONLY thing that changes on the pages is the image file name, the price, the part number, and the name of the item. Sounds like you probably have 845,000 duplicate pages that will not be indexed individually. If you’re looking for some massive number of “pages indexed” (for whatever reason), you are quite liable to be disappointed. Until there is enough variance between items, like a longer description, or some individualized stats which also populate those pages, you stand very little chance of seeing more pages indexed – you are more than likely seeing fewer pages indexed as Google compiles it’s clusters.

In fact, catalogs that work this way violate Google’s best practices as outlined in their Webmaster Guidelines. Google doesn’t publish all this info for fun – they are trying to help us help ourselves. They say very plainly:

“Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.”

If you feel like your site is suffering from this “clustering” of pages that seem to be duplicated, work with your webmaster to rectify the situation and then use Google’s Webmaster Central tools to request a re-evaluation of your domain.

If you just have 16 different search options that all lead back to the same item, don’t worry about it – one of those URLs will be indexed, and that’s all you need. You’ll want to monitor your SERPs so you can see which pages make the cut so you know how Google “sees you, and keep your site map up to date, but other than that, most of us have very little to fear from the Duplicate Content Penalty…