A recent interview with Matt Cutts gave some interesting insight into how Google views infographics and it’s not good news for sites that have been going overboard on this tactic.
Google is against any method of overt link-building and the vast majority of infographics these days were designed with the sole intention of building links to a website. Matt Cutts doesn’t mind people using techniques to build links until the technique becomes too widespread and manipulative – then Google has to take action. We’ve seen the same with directory links, paid links, pay-per-post type sites and lots more. Once people do too much of something it stops working.
Based on the comments Google has made about other link strategies and the time taken for them to start penalising people who blatantly abuse them, I think bad infographic links (i.e. misleading graphics and links) have perhaps 12 months before they become something that is classed as “grey hat” for those who create them without a quality user experience in mind. Infographic links are still good but using them as an aggressive link building technique will eventually backfire.
Certainly if you are building infographic links today you need to follow the golden rule of making sure any links point back to your infographic page and not your commercial pages. If you want a link to your homepage too that’s fine as long as it’s a brand link.
The full quote from Matt Cutts is below.
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. They get far off topic, or the fact checking is really poor. The infographic may be neat, but if the information it’s based on is simply wrong, then it’s misleading people.
The other thing that happens is that people don’t always realize what they are linking to when they reprint these infographics. Often the link goes to a completely unrelated site, and one that they don’t mean to endorse. Conceptually, what happens is they really buy into publishing the infographic, and agree to include the link, but they don’t actually care about what it links to. From our perspective this is not what a link is meant to be.
Any infographics you create will do better if they’re closely related to your business, and it needs to be fully disclosed what you are doing. The big key is that the person publishing the infographic has to know, and agree with, including an endorsement to your site as attribution with the infographic. Even then, there is reason to believe that the link is more about the barter to get the infographic than a real endorsement of your site.
This is similar to what people do with widgets as you and I have talked about in the past. I would not be surprised if at some point in the future we did not start to discount these infographic-type links to a degree.