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This is an open letter to the SEO community.

This post has been on my mind for quite some time but after visiting ThinkVisibility on Saturday I felt it was ready to be written today.  

Obviously as the owner of an infographic agency I have a vested interest in the debate, but hopefully my arguments will still hold up despite any bias I may have. 

At ThinkVisibility I twice encountered what appears to be a growing sentiment amongst some in the SEO community: that infographics are just the latest fad in SEO linkbuilding and one that any PR/SEO worth his or her salt should avoid.

During a discussion following Pak Hou Cheung's presentation about outreach (very good by the way - it will be covered in a future post), Dave Naylor expressed the opinion that infographics were in Google’s crosshairs and that SEOs should be worried, hinting that they may be hit hard in the next three months (his afternoon presentation with Becky Naylor about how they build Bronco was awesome and well worth checking out).

The next presentation I attended was Kristal Ireland's talk about 'Social Media Strategy, Looking beyond the Bull Sh*t ’.

Infographics seemed to be regarded as something of a waste of time and not recommended as part of a ‘real’ social media campaign. Although I found it slightly ironic that much of the presentation itself made use of infographics, Kristal’s claims still beg the question: how has the infographic’s reputation sunk so low in the SEO community?

It is my belief that the growing sentiment against infographics is more about a lack of information from providers such as ourselves, rather than anything innately wrong with the format itself.

I’m hoping then that this post can dispel some of the most common criticisms levelled at infographics as marketing tools.

Are infographics just a new trick for acquiring links?

SEO trick

I think many SEOs believe, and this was implicit in Dave Naylor’s claim, that infographics are the latest naughty trick for getting easy links, similar to the article marketing methods of old.

To tackle this argument it might be worth reminding ourselves what in fact became of that section of the industry.

When article marketing first appeared it contained no links and was all about the sharing of information to other users on the web. As the method grew in popularity, article websites appeared and authors started getting referenced through author boxes and could include their URL. When article marketing just included marketing that involved businesses educating or selling to their audience, all was good.

Then SEO’s came along and like with most things we touch…

Well, it started off friendly enough. Some SEO’s even knew the value in article marketing (the relationships with the content sites) but many saw the quick link win as a way of scalable linkbuilding. Fast forward to today and links from article sites are useless or even harmful.

But what about article marketing itself, is that dead?

Well, the key point to take away is that there was good article marketing and there was bad. The good guys knew that ezinearticles…etc were just a way to get interest from real webmasters who were desperate for good quality content.

Relationships were built, high quality links were earned and by the time the article sites were hit they had long evolved into the world of content syndication and the art of guest posting.

Article marketing was not hit because Google had any problem with the format (the article), but because they had a problem with the way in which SEO’s were mass posting spun/low quality content across hundreds of sites.

I believe something similar holds true for infographics. Here’s what Matt Cutts thinks about the matter:

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….

We have to accept that as an industry that we take something that works and push it to breaking point. It’s the nature of certain elements within SEO and we should accept that infographics are going to be released from fiver (see the awesome example below) or use totally unrelated topics to drive links like the list bait of old.

However, this does not in itself mean that the “infographic” format is toxic.

One of the ways that I like to test any linkbuilding format is to ask myself whether it would be used in the ‘real’ world. Or, to put it another way, ‘Would you still publish it, if you didn’t get any links?’

Many of our non-marketing clients would argue that infographics are anything but a waste of time for the average person. I won’t bore you with a sales talk but infographics can add support to arguments, make complex issues understandable and turn data into something meaningful. 

A brighter future for infographics

 5 dollar infographic

There are awful infographics out there and they will continue to be made until the spotlight moves to the next shiny content format.

It’s highly unlikely that links from the type of sites with the domain infographicwebsitefromindiafor$50.com have any sort of authority now and I would be wary of any providers who include paid submission sites in their results.

However, this does not mean that infographics are a bad strategy for SEO/PR. Claiming as much is an oversimplification of the issue and spreads misinformation to an industry already full of half-truths and myths.

For as bloggers and webmaster get savvier, they will only link to good quality, well researched and relevant infographics; a situation that will hopefully put a smile on Matt Cutts’ face.

Danny Ashton

Published 7 March, 2013 by Danny Ashton

Danny Ashton is Outreach Director at infographic agency Neo Mammalian Studios and a contributor to Econsultancy.  He can be found on Twitter and Google+.

8 more posts from this author

Comments (34)

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Nick Stamoulis

In my opinion, it's not the infographic itself that is the problem it's the people creating them. I've seen fantastic infographics full of great info that I bookmark and save and refer to all the time. And I've seen completely useless junk infographics that are a waste to even blink at. But when any tactic becomes a "must to" people look for the quickest, easiest way to get it done. That's the real problem.

over 3 years ago


steven holmes

I'm afraid i'm going to have to disagree with Dave Naylor here. I can't see any reason why infographics would ever be targeted by Google. They are a perfectly legitimate form of content and if Google were to penalise them in some way they would be going against their own guidelines.

I do have an issue with infographics though. In fact, i'd go so far as to say I hate them - they've just been done to death, ruined by SEOs. I've even seen infographics about the impact of infographics FFS!

They're like anything in the content world - great ones based on data that we care about will get some love, all the rest will be ignored and will just hang around in the ether (and that's most of them).

over 3 years ago


Matt Sawyer

For me it's all about overuse and misuse.

The same could be said of any SEO tactic. Things like directory submissions, press releases, guest writing, commenting etc, when done well, for reasons other than pure SEO than they work well and offer something to your overall marketing strategy.

Unfortunately, when this becomes tied-up with cost (and time), the race to the bottom inevitably leads to scale and automation, which obviously compromises not just the work, but also the original intention.

Guest posting/outreach will suffer in the same way, as people try to scale the process it loses it's original intention.

Scale reduces something that is akin to PR and freelance writing to an automated mass templated email and content generation sweatshop.

As you rightly point out though, all SEOs end-up having to deal with this, the strategy is tainted and becomes harder to 'sell' to both the client and the site owner.

over 3 years ago


Sam Brown

Agree with Steven - always a place for great content.

The problem with infographics is for the most part they're incredibly boring and should really be renamed 'stylised text'.

When done properly, and when (the clue really is in the name) distilling information into a graphical form that can be interpreted without the need for huge chunks of accompanying text, they're ace. This one on "how much money do musicians really get paid in this new digital marketplace?" is my favourite example of an infographic in its truest form: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/how-much-do-music-artists-earn-online/

over 3 years ago


Dave Naylor

LOL... what about the irrelevant ones that the online casinos push out ?

over 3 years ago

Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons, UK Managing Director at BlueGlass

Nice post Danny - and to follow-up from Pak Hou's talk and mine at SES (http://www.slideshare.net/kevgibbo/how-to-earn-visibility-links-with-content), the main point now is really about human engagement.

My personal view is that it doesn't matter if it's an infographic, a news story or a blog post etc - if it doesn't have human activity and social engagement, users don't value it. In which case the search engines shouldn't value it either.

This is why advertorials are easy to spot - it doesn't matter anymore that they're hosted on high-authority domains, if they have no page-level metrics such as inbound links/co-citations or social signals - there's no indicator of trust for Google on that individual piece.

The opposite is also true - if there's high engagement on content, it should be rewarded. Infographics have been over-used as an SEO tactic, but there is still value in there if it's connecting with an audience - you just have to put a lot more effort into standing out of the crowd now.

The way I see it is quite simply with Google rewarding high-quality content, and devaluing low-quality content!

over 3 years ago



The purpose of an infographic is to visualise complex data into a short comprehensible snippets. This has been done for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, it is most commonly used to visualise simple common data for marketing purposes such as those within the writer's portfolio. Visualising complex data is still going very strong for those with unique and meaningful ideas.

over 3 years ago

Alec Cochrane

Alec Cochrane, Head of Optimisation at Blue Latitude

I think that part of the reason that SEOs don't like infographics as much as they could do is because they don't think the links that they generate are as valuable as other link building opportunities.

This is because the infographic is usually seen as not necessarily poor quality, but lower value content - it's an attempt to simplify things that are often complicated in a way that a lay man might understand. So in that sense, the people who are going to be linking to the content are going to be providing less valuable links.

Plus, of course, putting text and so on in images is against everything SEOs have been saying for years - you need to make the content searchable by robots and infographics are deliberately made so they are simple to share (and because of that they are often rehosted completely losing the value).

I don't think SEOs are against infographics necessarily, I just don't think that they think they are the panacea that we're lead to believe and should be focussed on over producing good quality, interesting content.

over 3 years ago

Andreas Pouros

Andreas Pouros, Co-founder & COO at Greenlight

I think when people disavow infographics, it's not too dissimilar to people disavowing teapots because 4,000 people a year are injured by them (true story). Infographics by their nature, like teapots, aren't inherently evil, but can be ineffectual or indeed dangerous if not used sensibly. What does that mean?

1. Too many people are using infographics as single, self-enclosed activities, that aren't part of a wider messaging narrative. For example, if Hitwise had infographics to illustrate their data each month, then that would be awesome (they actually might). If a company merely released a standalone infographic just to showcase some minor insights that anyone could find out, then I'd question the real value. Value comes from scarcity - if you have data that's unique to you and valuable, then knock yourself out, I'd love to see it all graphically. If not, then invest in getting some real data and don't bury me in pretty pictures just because someone said you should produce some.

2. Too many people are just knocking out infographics as a canvas to embed links for SEO benefit. Infographics should not be an SEO technique - they should be a content marketing method which has an SEO benefit, as well as a PR benefit, Social benefit, etc. If you're crowbarring keyword anchored links with an infographic (which is what Matt Cutts was really talking about) then stop. If you're also producing these infographics which rotate their anchor text to get fuller keyword coverage, then you're asking for it. Put a credit link and leave it at that. If you're infographic is high quality and well positioned then the links and social shares will be picked up by Google no problem.

So, in short - infographics are teapots. Don't be haphazard with either and they'll both benefit you just fine.

over 3 years ago


Anthony Shapley

I work with Dave - at Bronco, and I pretty much agree with this article, they are a great way to share information and potentially gain links, however much like everything its being pushed to the absolute limits.

There are Infographic Sites popping up, much like Article Banks you mentioned above, but just for Infographics. Its pretty simple, SEO's produce - for links, which creates a demand for places to put them. Any sort of Editorial Integrity is traded away for cold hard cash. Much like we've just seen with the newspapers. And with various other link networks over the last 18 months. Its a mould the industry needs to break free from.

Google themselves have created a number of interactive "Infographics" which have clearly had a ton more work done on them than the average boring graphic thats being produced by most agencies, below is the perfect example of the social shares and links which can be gained by creating something with good content (as cliched as that may sound):



over 3 years ago

John Callaghan

John Callaghan, Digital Marketing Consultant at CTI Digital

I love infographics. Data visualisation is a wonderful thing. When done well they make their subject matter easier and more fun to learn, remember and interpret.

Google is under pressure to continually improve their search engines results pages.

For them to continue to do so, the innumerable algorithm changes targeting content quality have to go further than devaluing poor quality content production. They have to incentivise high quality content production.

A blanket devaluation infographics would fail to do so. With social sharing metrics available is shouldn't be too difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

over 3 years ago

Adam Tudor

Adam Tudor, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at The Black Hole

Just like any other form of content, if it offers good value and proves useful then excellent! I don't see them any different from formats such as white papers or how to guides; it's just a way to get content out. This format can be useful in displaying some types of information and not others. The problem is so many over use and shoehorn content into Inforgraphics (as it's the current 'buzz' format) that they turn out badly and would have had much more impact in another format.

over 3 years ago


Matt Fielding, SEO Manager at Custard

I feel your pain, Danny. Google loves great content and that includes great infographics. The rubbish ones just won't get links, simple as that.

What may be in Google's crosshairs is the use of HTML links in embed codes. The blogger doesn't always realise that by embedding an infographic on their site they're also linking to it, which could be seen as manipulative. I could see Google's justification for devaluing these links.

The key for me is to create something amazing, put it on your site/blog and invest time in a great outreach to attract social shares and links. As a technique, this just can't legitimately be penalised.

over 3 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Just want to chime in and echo Kevin's sentiment on content marketing being for human action.

There are plenty of great infographics out there driving SEO through social and influencer activity (the best usually follow the rule of seven closely when it comes to the amount of different data sets) but everyone needs to stop and think like a journalist/blogger before opening up Pictochart.

Why would someone want to share this? Think about a social cause or truism your audience can relate to whenever possible!

over 3 years ago

Kristal Ireland

Kristal Ireland, Strategy Director at Enjoy Digital


If you are going to publicly criticise my presentation I would appreciate it if you didn't misquote and misrepresent me for your own agenda - which yes as someone who runs an infographic company is VERY biased.

What I said in my presentation, which you seem to have completely misunderstood, is that whilst I think infographics have a place in marketing/SEO - they are in my opinion, having worked with as many global brands and having conducted countless hours of consumer insight as I have, not an important or big deal when it comes to effective social media engagement or brand marketing for large consumer brands. There was x1 slide in my presentation which used an infographic. 1. This was to highlight a marketing research related point about social media channel consumption - again exactly the context of my presentation.

Whilst I don't mind that you disagree with what I said - I mean obviously you would as an owner of a infographic business, I think it is pretty infantile of you to twist what I have said and misrepresent me. My presentation wasn't even on SEO -it was on social media and how to apply academic marketing principles to cut through the bullshit.

A little bit more factual integrity when it comes to this kind of post wouldn't go amiss!


over 3 years ago


T Andrews

Like many things used to help SEO Link Building, it depends how the methods are used. A good infographic used on 1 site, or a poor infographic repeated on 20 sites!

Some SEO's seem to rubbish most methods when they become commonly used, however as with using articles, press releases, social bookmarks, etc - there will still be value to all methods, if used selectively and not in bulk.

over 3 years ago


Marc Pearson

Here Here! I agree with you 100%. When you build your brand with quality information whether it's through an infograhpic or article it's not going to hurt you. It's when your lazy and build links just to build links, that's when you're going to get in trouble.

over 3 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

Good piece of outreach Danny... :)

For many sectors and websites, it's becoming harder and harder to attract 'natural' links. Let's be honest, in an ideal world, SEM (search engine 'manipulation' that is) would not exist and 'mom and pop' website owners and big corporates alike would simply create fantastic websites and attract natural links. For some sectors infographics become the go-to medium to try and gain new link domains from sites which otherwise would not link to those sectors (ie Dave Naylor's point).

But Google needs good SEO, after all, good SEO improves the quality of Google's SERPs. So my point is as noted previously, Google isn't waging a blanketed war on infographics as much as it isn't waging war on SEO; Google is waging a war on poor quality web content, and rightly so. It doesn't matter if it is text, video or infographic.

So Danny I don't believe infographics themselves are the problem for SEOs, as much as the overuse and generally perceived poor execution.

over 3 years ago



How can you compare infographic to Article marketing.. AM is still a hit any day any time. Just you need to create 1 unique article in your niche spin and submit to 1200, PR 0 1 2 3 4 5...check it out on #Fiverr for $5 on h-t-t-p ://5rr1.co/s/3sh4nw remove the -

over 3 years ago



Depends -in most cases the content is often rehashed/stolen from elsewhere, and doesn't offer any actual benefit other than to get a link.

IMO They're crap, especially if they're built through a friend purely for backhanders.

over 3 years ago


Kris K

For me, infographics are great tools for marketing as long as you have provided brief and useful information to your users. It should be also be concise and layouting must be in depth details.

over 3 years ago




I think they are great, however I think there is a bit of saturation at the moment. Not like the SEO community to over do something.

I think if used correctly they can be very effective. I would much rather see them used sparingly to complement a blog post rather than being the whole focus.

over 3 years ago


Dave Naylor

this is my last comment on this .. ( maybe ;) )

has Danny pointed out :

"Dave Naylor expressed the opinion that infographics were in Google’s crosshairs and that SEOs should be worried, hinting that they may be hit hard in the next three months.."

Now I never said I didn't like them or that they had no value, I said that they will be in Googles cross-hairs now, now I could be a dick and show 1000's of the bad info-graphics pushed daily, or mention the cost of paying to have an Infographic placed on big sites, or the big brands that have asked for Infographics to be delinked (good infographics as well but they had stopped ranking for their brand lol.. )

What I was trying to say is that when an industry like advertorials and infographics are mentioned in the same convo we know where that's going to end..

and if people advertise the fact that YOU get LINKS from infographics SEO LINKS in fact then you have to be on the radar!!


over 3 years ago


Matt Fielding, SEO Manager at Custard

I think a big line needs to be drawn between links IN infographics/embed codes and links generated by infographics 'naturally', which is surely fine??

If not, it makes a mockery of Google's 'create great content' mantra.

over 3 years ago



It's all down to saturation, pure and simple. Everything loses its pull with too much exposure. When I see an infographic now I make an involuntary noise which sounds something like "UUGH".

I don't even consider whether the infographic will actually be worth reading any more, I just automatically don't bother.

over 3 years ago


Dave Naylor

oh wait : http://dannyashton.com/get-in-touch/ ..

Danny Ashton - Linkbuilding Consultant

over 3 years ago


Angie Nikoleychuk

I think I'm a bit more in agreement with Dave Naylor on this one. Will infographics be in Google's cross hairs soon? I absolutely think they will. The Cutts quote pointed out in the article is a clear indication that they're looking at it.

HOWEVER, I don't think it's going to be an all or nothing thing. I just think (like article marketing, etc) they're going to be compared to a much stiffer set of standards. Engagement, shares, etc. will all play a part in whether or not it has value.(I think someone already mentioned this.) When this change occurs, a lot of the infographics (and the companies who swear by the quick, cheap ones) are going to get hit hard. Provided, they're lacking in the diversity department.

Let's face it: it's pretty darn easy to spot an infographic that has been created specifically for links without a thought to value compared to one that was created to add value first.

Brand and authority might also play a part here. If the BBC spends a ton on a great infographic on the historical values of banking system, for example, I can't see Google devaluing it despite what its opinion is of the medium. Will a basic infographic be worth less than an interactive one? Possibly. Who knows.

Some people just have to get over the fact that the quick, easy, cheap corner cutting works, but it doesn't work (as well) forever.

As Kevin said, there's a time and a place for them. Creativity people! Some niches just require more of it than others.

over 3 years ago

Danny Ashton

Danny Ashton, Founder at Neo Mam Studios

lol will update that for you now ;)

My goal has always been to attract links to my clients websites. In the past, building links was the most efficient approach. Now, it's all about earning links and the most powerful method is to create awesome content.

over 3 years ago


Michael Charalambous

It's amazing how quickly Kristal and Dave have bitten onto this thread...

If we have learned anything here. It's that Danny understands exactly how to get a reaction using content - be it an infographic or otherwise. That to me, is a win.

Let's not knit-pick here, children. Danny is simply saying that as of recent there is a stigma surrounding infographics - which is true. I think unfortunately Danny you have to accept that there will be a stigma associated with "every" tactic at some point.

Produce quality, and the same tactics will always work - article marketing, infographics, it doesn't matter.

P.S Kristal, you're wrong there. Your presentation uses imagery that contain information on SO MANY PAGES. Hence, they are visual representations of consumable information or information represented as a graphic. Ergo, you're using infographics.

over 3 years ago


David Quaid

Hi Danny,

I don't have any problems with them but Inforgraphics often fall into advertising/branding/marketing and SEO's are problem solvers not just brand builders.

Also, people dont search for Infographics when shopping :)

over 3 years ago


claire stokoe

We have had this debate a few times haven't we Danny, i agree 100% with your points.

Time and time again i get people who ask me to develop an infographic for them, then they decide to do it instead (with no formal training) and the graphic flops and then... "infographics dont work". Of course they don't frigging work if you have no idea what you are doing.

I'm gonna let rip at Linklove about how i feel on the SEO hates infographics subject >> Mwahhhh haaaaa haaaaaaa ..

Great post x

over 3 years ago


Kate Naylor

Great quality content never goes out of style. But a boring infographic won't cut the mustard. Get it right, it works. Get it wrong, it doesn't. As a marketer that should be the only thing that matters.

over 3 years ago

Yvette Bordley

Yvette Bordley, Digital Marketing, Content & Community Building Consultant (Freelance) at Webyogi Digital Marketing

i just think we as in the seo obsessive peeps think oh my gawd fascinating but most human beings not seo doings think wft? So maybe lets elate to the less right brain, pinterest lovies and more to the humanoids? Maybe? Perhaps? Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Android.

over 3 years ago



In other words "I run an agency that makes infographics so please use them again and use me"?

Stop stealing content to make poor content and letting someone else take the blame. Also, stop taking backhanders

over 3 years ago

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