If you are in the trenches of link building, you have probably already read the most recent Matt Cutts interview on Eric Enge’s blog about the devaluation of infographic links, or the cliff notes on SE Roundtable. If you haven’t read the interview, you should go do so now.
In the interview, Matt states that while many infographics are good, relevant, linkable content, it is a technique that has become abused. Many infographics published are not relevant, not well designed, and frequently contain misinformation. He goes on to state:
“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.”
“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. The link is often embedded in the infographic in a way that people don’t realize, vs. a true endorsement of your site.”
So the two big complaints that he has are that unrelated sites are getting links and people don’t know they are giving links. Does this mean that in the future infographics are going to become ineffective? No, probably not. What it does mean though is that a lot of infographic links will probably be discounted in certain situations.
Linking to Questionable Niches
The first thing that Matt mentions is the number of off topic sites linking because of infographics. Tactics like infographics are most abused in industries where it is really difficult to get links, such as online education, loans, credit card, online pharmacies, etc. To combat infographic spam, in the future, Google may discredit links to these niche’s if it determines that the links are from infographics.
If you are producing infographics that are relevant to your site and are getting links from sites in your niche or sites that are adjacently related to your niche, you shouldn’t worry about your links being devalued.
The other thing that Matt spends some time on is that many times when an infographic is embedded, site owners are unaware that they are linking to another site. I think that he is referencing when an image links to another site, which is frequently included in the infographic embed code. Based on this, in the future, links included via images where the alt text, image title, or file name include infographic may be devalued. Since the embed code is the primary ways that infographics get links (one in the image and one typically listed as the ‘source’), you may be asking, how can infographics still be effective? Fortunately, there are a couple ways to continue to get links from infographics even if Google discounts image links (or links immediately following the infographic).
One easy way around this is to write guest posts for other sites around the topic of your infographic. Infographics typically have a lot of data so it should be easy to create a post around the information contained in the infographic. When dealing with a website owner, you may want to refer to it as a poster, as the word infographic may be off-putting as you are writing a guest post for them.
Content Based Infographic Sites
One currently popular tactic for link building via infographics is to infographic gallery sites. Most of these sites simply post an infographic and you will get a link through the image as well as an attribution link (to your homepage) immediately following the infographic. Sites like these will probably pass less value in the future than they currently do.
This doesn’t mean that infographic submission sites will be worthless though. There are many sites such as Cool Infographics or Vizual Archive that are infographic submission sites, yet will probably continue to provide valuable links because they have a decent amount of content alongside the infographic. Cool Infographics is an example of an infographic review site, which will write a detailed post reviewing your infographic – not just the concept but how the infographic is designed and how well it visually represents data. Vizual Archive is an infographic submission site but posts text alongside the infographic, introducing and explaining it. Typically, you will be able to get links in the content surrounding your infographic, so even if Google discounts the image link, you can still get links as a result of the infographic.
While Google may be seeking to devalue spammy links generated via infographics, they will still probably provide value into the foreseeable future. You can further future proof them by keeping them relevant to your site and promoting them with written content rather than letting them get links via the image alone.