A casual comment made by Google’s webspam guru, Matt Cutts, during a recent online interview has started a firestorm of speculation about infographics and infographics links that has basically gone viral. This comment by Cutts has everyone worried, and the buzz—and the worry—haven’t let up since. Perhaps you yourself have been troubled by it.
The Cutts Comment in Context
As it happened, buried deep in the middle of a meaty interview covering the many, many characteristics that make a quality website, Matt mentioned a few things that troubled him about the handling of infographics and then casually alluded to the potential future of the infographic in the grand Google scheme. And while everyone seems to have forgotten much of what he said about blog networks, e-commerce and aggregator sites, SEO, and web search rankings, they’ve latched onto this innocuous little statement with a death grip and are still hanging on as if their online lives depended on it—and as if blowing the topic out of all proportion would somehow actually make it more important or more likely to come true. What did Matt Cutts say about infographics that started such a furor? Just this:
“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.”
Powerful Prediction? Or Bemused Speculation?
Many seem not to have read the quote—or the rest of Matt’s statements about infographics—very closely, though. First, he said, “these infographic-type links.” What type of infographic link was he referring to? The bad type—the type that lead to low-quality, irrelevant, non-authoritative websites—and the type that contain poor-quality, inaccurate, misleading information. If that’s not the kind of infographics you’re creating, no worries!
Second, Matt actually qualified his statement by adding “to a degree.” This was no strong, authoritative pronouncement, but simply the thoughtful musings and mild speculations of an experienced webmaster.
Should You Worry?
So, do you have anything to worry about? Not if you’re creating the good type of infographic—and linking it to quality sites.
Take special note of these two Cutts quotes that are also part of the same interview:
“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.”
As with everything else on the Web, the key to posting infographics that don’t attract the ire of Google —and likely never will, no matter how much they may change their algorithm in the future—is to create infographics that provide value, quality, and relevancy, and that demonstrate intentionality in outbound linking. Sites that do that will never run afoul of Google.
Google Isn’t the Enemy
Remember: Google isn’t out to get you. If you’re publishing valuable, relevant content—whether that content happens to be an infographic or anything else—and you’re linking to quality websites, you’ll be fine. Google isn’t your enemy. They’re simply out to make sure that, to the extent they can, they protect the quality and integrity of the information that’s available on the Web.
And, after all, isn’t that their job?
What are your thoughts on infographics in light of these Matt Cutts comments?