The basis for these mutterings appears to be comments from Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts, who in an interview with internet marketing expert Eric Enge said that he 'would not be surprised' if at some point Google did not 'start to discount these infographic-type links to a degree'. He added: 'The link is often embedded in the infographic in a way that people don’t realize, versus a true endorsement of your site.'
Understandably these comments caused something of a panic in the online marketing community, with some dismissing infographics as simply a sneaky way of building easy links and declaring yet another buzzy content format to be dead. But infographics bring many benefits, and done well we'd argue they can actually boost, not hinder, your seo...
Indeed, by being overly cautious and avoiding infographics altogether, companies could be missing out on the multitude of benefits they offer.
An infographic can increase brand awareness around a particular subject and help build exposure through social sharing, plus there’s extensive research suggesting that people actually respond better to visual representations when illustrations are used, as they find it easier to remember details, and enjoy looking at them more.
There is evidence to suggest that rather than being bad for seo, infographics can actually help boost companies’ rankings. The recent changes to Google’s algorithms have all focused on rewarding sites which receive natural links and social traffic and penalising those which rely on more contrived link-building methods. By their very nature, a good quality infographic should encourage people to click and share, driving the natural link-building that Google is so keen on.
It is not so much the format of infographics that Google has a problem with, but the quality of some of the graphics being produced. As Matt Cutts himself says: 'In principle, there’s nothing wrong with the concept of an infographic. What concerns me is the types of things that people are doing with them...'
In the same way that poor-quality, irrelevant and keyword-stuffed written content will be penalised by Google, so will a badly-designed infographic which has little relevance to your business. Bad is bad, in any medium or format.
According to Matt Cutts, to be successful infographics should offer something of unique value, as well as being relevant and informative – just like any other type of content.
Don’t just produce a graphic because you feel like you should have one. As with any content, establish your aims, think about whether a graphic is the most suitable way of presenting your information and come up with a creative and original way of presenting the information to your target audience which will set your efforts apart.