Google’s Matt Cutts says links within infographics may not boost SEO

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by Brafton Editorial
Infographics are growing in popularity around the web, and Google is looking into some practices that may mislead those linking or embedding others' visual content on their sites.

Google’s Matt Cutts recently spoke with Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting and said that infographics are the latest form of web content to cross the mind of him and the search team at Google. This content format is gaining popularity among marketers because it’s frequently shared, but according to Cutts, links embedded within infographics may soon be discounted, as many people sharing this content on their own site may not be aware of these links.

While adding links within an infographic is not likely an indicator of black hat SEO in most cases, it could become a method of gaining inbound links without the knowledge of the person sharing the infographic on their his or her site. Infographics are still valuable in building inbound links as Cutts explains that there are SEO benefits when a consumer, site owner or other social user links to an infographic, but links embedded within the visual content may not be counted toward a site’s rank or authority.

As with other forms of emerging web content, Google is currently reviewing practices around the web to develop a standard plan for counting linking data related to infographics. Additionally, Cutts and others have said infographics, like other forms of content, must be developed with the user in mind. Even if it’s attractive, an infographic that includes inaccurate or otherwise irrelevant data may be considered spam.

“(T)here’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.” – Matt Cutts

The manner Google uses to detect these issues is undetermined, and the general benefit of infographics is still pretty large. However, applying the same editorial standards to infographics as a marketer does to broader content marketing can help ensure infographics are of a high quality.

“(T)here’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,” Cutts told Inge. “The infographic may be neat, but, if the information it’s based on is simply wrong, then it’s misleading people.”

Visual content’s value to a website cannot be understated. Brafton recently reported that 65 percent of consumers said they prefer to see visuals on sites they visit, while sharing images and other forms of eye-catching content as part of social media marketing campaigns can drive engagement. However, companies must be sure their use of infographics follows general editorial standards and SEO guidelines to see the maximum engagement and reach.

“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,” Cutts said.

Cutts’ comments should not deter marketers from using infographics as they are proving invaluable branding tools and providing diverse website content is critical to a strong SEO strategy. Any infographic developed to provide accurate information to the users will be a positive addition to a website. But his statement should remind marketers that any form of content they create must focus on the user.

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