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Nicole Hess

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Good Infographic; Bad Infographic

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Good Infographic; Bad Infographic

When I first heard Matt Cutts in a G+ hangout say that Google is reconsider the link value for infographics I admit, I was appalled. “I love infographics! How could this be?”

Infographics I felt were helping people learn and get information that they might not otherwise. Case in point, the US government started using them to spread information about all sorts of topics as a public service (such as the care nurses give – I mean, how mainstream is that?!

I started thinking that all the plush toy penguins and pandas had really gotten to the Googlers heads and they were going a tad overboard in their retaliation to information sharing. I mean, I agree that sometimes infographics are from questionable data or data that’s been sliced and diced and so badly derived they are more false than positive, but so could be any website. After all, the worldwide web doesn’t have regulations that websites must have factual content – beware all those going to Wikipedia to write term papers…

Infographics are Pretty…

Then I had the “aha moment” the moment.

I was browsing the internet for the latest news on social media’s influence on search engine ranking for websites, looking for ways to explain and substantiate why social media engagement is now, more than ever, so important. I came across a beautiful infographic on the relationship of links and social media shares. My clients know how important links are, so I thought I scored big time. I can just show them this little infographic and tada! We’ll be in perfect understanding harmony, posting pictures of us skipping hand in hand on Facebook and Pinterest. I instantly shared this on Facebook and just as I was about to share on Pinterest too I started wondering where all the data came from, how did the researcher come to the conclusion I had and in less than a minute I realized my happy daydream was OVER!

Myself, along with at least two dozen other readers left questions about where all the data came from, how was the study conducted, when, etc and etc. I waited for a response. This is after all on SEOMOZ, a place where internet marketers usually go for the most innovative and yet accurate information, did I mention SEOMOZ has a tool that will track keyphrase rankings for any site you plug in?

Well, no answer came. I know this blogger isn’t part of SEOMOZ staff so I’m no less trusting of its tools, but I do now understand why infographics are such dangersouly tantalizing graphics.

All in all, I learned two good lessons about Infographics:

1. In this age of one click publishing, both authors and readers must check the sources – just like ages of good journalists have done before us.

2. Infographics can still catch the eye of potential site visitors, but you should put the “no follow” code along with the link, so you avoid potential bad marks from Google.

Happy pretty data sharing!

Image credit: guycodeblog.mtv.com

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