Earlier this week Eric Enge over at Stone Temple Consulting reported that Google may discount Infographic Links in the future.
Despite being a company that promotes infographics as a viable source of links I actually agree with this, if it is done the way I think it should be.
First of all this comment from Matt Cutts shouldn't come as a surprise, anytime there is a tactic that works in our world there will always be those making low quality versions by the truck loads. This is why we are all sick of seeing the term "Infographic" in our Twitter stream. I would bet it is very safe to say that 80% of infographics are crap or what I like to call "Infocrapics." The other 20 percent are good. I would say 5% are amazing. A good infographic is really just good content with a label on it. I actually don't like the term cause it has a gimmicky negative connotation to it. Really all infographics are is visual content. Content that is good deserves links and will get links. Content that is crap/thin/mediocre needs gimmicks and extra methods to increase the chances of success and in this case links. Infographics are no different than a Youtube Video or a blog post, crap is crap and good content is good content no matter the package it comes in. I would like to think Google will never discount or marginalize good content.
Anything that is mostly or close to mostly automated can and most likely will get you in trouble in Google and there are certain areas on the low end of infographic marketing that could be looked at like thin, low quality methods. If I were Google and I felt like Infographics at large are the new area of concern I would look at the following:
Embed Codes - Its not that I would look at embed codes themselves but maybe search for the embed code text and anchor text and see how many times it is used. As a general rule of thumb 97th Floor doesn't use embed codes, our biggest reasons are 1,) if the graphic is that good it will get links and 2.) When it does get links they will all be 100% natural because there is no code telling the site linking what to say and what word to use as the anchor tex. It would be really easy for Google to track the embed code and discount any sites using it.
* Regardless of whether Google decides to target infographics specifically, using embed codes are already getting content penalized by creating over optimization of exact anchor text.
Infographic Directories - I think this is obvious there are so many infographic directories now and most Infocrapics have their majority of links from these sites as they are a dime a dozen and usually free. The reason for this is the same as regular directories it is a cheap low quality way to get links, you really only earn the link cause you saved your content as a .png and slapped "Infographic" in the title that is about the gist of the quality guidelines. Again really easy for Google to do something here with very little effort.
Just those two areas alone would cut out a lot of crap from getting artificial love in Google while not penalizing the good stuff. I know Matt also referred to infographics that don't always fact check, have errors etc...while that may be true that seems like too much work on Google's part to algorithmically build something to catch that, also graphics that have crappy facts and use wikipedia as their main source aren't going to get love anyways. Plus the last time I checked this is still a problem in blogging and frankly anywhere on the web, I don't think Infographics are an exception in the area of bad fact checking and thin content.
So if you were thinking you should cut your Infographic plans and stop all work there, I would say, "Don't." Quality content will get links and always will, it doesn't matter the wrapping or the package. I think it was good Matt said something because I already hate that Infographics are looked at like gimmicks or fly by night marketing tactics. The truth is they work very well for traffic, branding, links and social shares and really in a post Penguin world you should be looking towards creative content in any form more than you were before.