Image SEO for Bloggers: My Viral Marketing Success Story

October 14, 2014

One day a snarky idea popped in my head…

A funny twist on the Red Bull slogan. I could see the visual. It made me laugh.

I shared my humorous take on “Red Bull Gives You Wings” with a few friends. Everyone seemed to find it amusing to some degree, so it hung around my imagination.

If I was a talented artist, I probably would have jumped on creating this satirical toon right away because I thought it could make a good blog or social media post.

But I’m not an illustrator. I’m a writer…so I set it aside for awhile. Shelved it in the back of my mind, with a plan to return to it some day.

Fast Forward a Few Months

A design firm came to me asking for some blog consultation for their website. I was able to help them make some dramatic changes in their blogging practice and inbound results. The results made them so happy that they offered me a bonus of a free illustration or blog image.

When they gave me this nice bonus, the first thing I thought of was the red bull slogan satire cartoon idea…

So I traded a few emails with a designer on what I was thinking. Using adobe illustrator, he came up with this:

Cartoon of Red Bull


He really smashed this one. Totally captured the satirical vibe on this concept.

I didn’t yet realize the powerful image seo I had in my hands.

Now It Was Time to Put My Step 6 Into Action

The way it turned out, of course I was eager to share it.

I started out posting this on my blog. Then began sharing it on social media–the usual channels like Facebook, etc.

One day I realized a website called 9GAG would be a good place to share this. 9GAG is a website described on Wikipedia as “an online platform, and a social media website whereby users upload and share user-generated images, videos, and GIFs. 9GAG, Inc. is based in Mountain View, California. Since the website was launched in 2008, it has grown in popularity, reaching more than 20 million Facebook “likes”and over 3 million Twitter followers in mid-September 2014

With traffic like that, why not? There’s no cost and this cartoon was a good fit for the 9GAG audience.

So I shared it, believing it was good, but expecting modest results.

Boy, were my expectations exceeded.

Trending Page Reached!

A couple of days later this reached the 9GAG trending page. It was like I blinked and found 4.8k up votes and 41 comments!

At this point, I knew I was only one thousand votes away from reaching the HOT page–a place only about 0.01% of the 9GAG posts manage to reach.

Posts that do reach the HOT page can expect their post to eventually reach literally millions of people.

Yes, millions of people could see my cartoon, and more importantly, the URL I placed at the bottom of the cartoon.

Don’t forget your CTA (call-to-action) when doing something like this, or else you will blow a great opportunity. (You’ll see why here in this story.)

My Funny Idea Goes Viral

A few days later, the numbers were blowing my mind.

This post had reached the “HOT” page and when I looked my eyes popped out: 19K Likes and closing in on 90 comments (all other peoples, none from me.)

I couldn’t help noticing these figures were higher than most of the other posts on the 9GAG Hot page.

That’s cool, right? Good for 9GAG…but the real question here is what is this doing for my own blog?

Here’s the Results (so far)

After some time had passed, I dug into the analytics and discovered something interesting…

I was surprised to see that this cartoon was ranking under the keyword “red bull slogan.” Taking a closer look, I discovered this caricature was pulling in traffic entirely from Google images, not from Google web search.

red bull slogan image search in Google


What’s happening here is this cartoon is catching people’s eye in Google image search even though it ranked 30, which is not all that high. This shows how powerful images can be for your blog. Even in lower rankings you can get better results than normally in “web search.”

See how this cartoon stands out in the image search:

red bull cartoon

You might be thinking, “Okay, that’s cool. But what about the actual results. Like conversions and stuff.”

Here are four tangible results from this viral experiment:

1. This has led to some new audience members. The conversion rate with this new group has had a lower newsletter subscription rate than my regular audience, yet during this time I have still seen a 20% increase in newsletter subscribers. That’s sweet.

2. This post became the #4 most visited page on Build Your Own Blog, passing one of my well-liked tools called The Blog Post Ideas Generator. And it came close to overtaking my sought-after WordPress Cheat Sheet PDF.




3. I saw a spike in traffic after posting this on 9GAG, the traffic almost doubled on the day of the launch. This was mostly direct traffic from users seeing my domain on the caricature and typing it into their browser. What makes this result good is this provides a lot of SEO value. Google loves to see that users are going directly to your page, without finding it is search engines first. This sends a strong signal that your site is worthy regardless of any SEO technique you are using, people are typing in the domain into their browser because they want to go right to it.

This is where the importance of the “call-to-action” comes in. Placing my URL at the bottom of the cartoon image made this a productive endeavor.

The photo here shows day of launch, direct traffic only. You can see the spike.


screenshot of page traffic analytics

4. As of this posting, Google has 24 results for this cartoon (when using image search.) Most of these results are 9GAG pages, but that’s okay because this is providing a strong signal to Google, who now see’s this as a piece of content that is spreading. A.k.a. “going viral.”

That’s what you want!


Finally! A Virus Story On the Internet With a Happy Ending

We all want our blog content to be contagious, right? We want the stuff we sneeze out into the blogosphere to infect readers with smiles, enlightenment, practical help, calls to actions, laughter and new paradigms.

I hope my story here will spark some ideas for your own blog on ways you can get more readers by creating something that “goes viral.” It doesn’t have to be a cartoon like I did here. It could be a video. An infographic. A well written article. A photo.

My final piece of advice here is to not focus on going viral. Instead, do this…

Build Your Own Blog meme

Tweet: Don't try to go viral. Just be amazing. via @buildurownblog

Creating something useful, compelling, humorous or thought provoking is what we all must shoot for. Not doing something “controversial” just for the sake of going viral. That has no lasting benefit to your blog.

Your Turn

Do you have any ideas on what makes blog content go viral? Or perhaps you have a question about my story or something about viral content…Say hi to me in the comments and let me know what’s on your mind.

Photo credit: Ice Bucket Challenge

Author Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter


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  1. Rin Porter says:    •   5 years

    This is a great idea. I would like to use it. Only problem is, I have no idea how to (a) draw cartoons, or (b) get them from the idea stage to the computer, and (c) create a digital image and post it to my blog. Can you suggest a site where I could learn the steps for creating a cartoon AND getting it onto my blog?

    Your ideas are great and I appreciate the newsletter very much.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   5 years Author

      Hi Rin,

      I love how hungry you are to learn.

      My response to your 3 part questions…
      A) I didn’t know how to draw cartoons either. If you don’t know anyone with this talent, check out a site called Fiverr where you can find illustrators at extremely affordable prices.
      B) You can collaborate with whoever is doing the drawing for you. Describe to them what you want. Exchange ideas. Eventually it will come together and be ready to post.
      C) On photos, check out Part IV of my article The WordPress Mega Extended Post.

      I’m glad you’re finding the newsletter helpful, Rin. Drop by anytime.

  2. Stephen says:    •   5 years

    Great post Matt. I’ve made the mistake a couple of times of forgetting to add a URL to a photo and then doing well in image search.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   5 years Author

      Stephen, good to hear you got something from this one.

  3. Talia says:    •   5 years

    I love this! I have been researching through this site of yours for 2-3 days. I’m debating about starting my blog. I have so many limitations when it comes to computer literacy that I fail before I start. THIS post and your helpful hints, suggestions and teachings are very inspirational. Thanks so much!