An example of ready-made infographic elements
What the Heck is a “Spamfographic”?
A spamfographic is a spammy infographic. Spamfographics are what happen when infographics go bad.
The Rise of the Infographic
Video: Joe Chernov – What is an Infographic
Infographics have been around for a long time, but have gained a lot of recognition and popularity in recent years as part of an overall SEO strategy. Infographics seem to have all the right moves; what else has the ability to capture the eye, share a lot of data in a small amount of space, and bring in bucket-loads of quality links and traffic? The only thing that comes to mind here is video content, and that is an entirely different animal.
Infographics have the marvelous ability to share a lot of data (some of which could be mind-numbingly dull or otherwise overwhelming in volume) in a small space, and look awesome doing it. An attractive and well-planned infographic can explain in a page’s worth of pixels something that would have ten several pages of text; and with the majority of the web-surfing population preferring the path of least resistance, the text-based approach is not even going to come close.
Take this infographic for example: (Click for the full graphic)
Thanks to Impact Branding & Design for the great graphic!
It’s stylish, it’s easy to understand, and it brings a lot of information together into an attractive package that’s easy to share! Who doesn’t like learning something new with less effort?
So What’s the Problem?
The problem, in short, is that for every great infographic there are dozens that aren’t so great. Some of these other infographics have good concepts and data behind them, but aren’t pulling things together visually; on the flip side, some look great but the facts are not lining up. Then there are those infographics that are so formulaic as to cause your eyes to cross just a little bit. Regardless, the goal isn’t being met, which is to combine data and visual cues in a way that is informative and easy to understand. As a result, more and more infographics aren’t able to accomplish their mission, which for most is being shared all across the web as a link-building method.
Check out these posts for a little tongue-in-cheek humor about infographics (complete with infographics of their own):
- An Intimate Look at Infographics – by Dave
- Infographic of Infographics – by Ivan Cash
- The Truth About Infographics – by Tanner Ringerud
Then, below this class of almost-there infographics are the spamfographics. Think of them like the unwanted guests at a party; they make everyone uncomfortable, take up too much space, and eventually draw the attention of someone who is going to ask them to leave. In this case, that someone could be Google, which has spoken through Matt Cutts, indicating that the value of links related to infographics could be discounted in the future.
And herein lies the problem. Because of the bad apples, an entire class of links could be discounted! Note we say “could” as nothing is certain for the moment regarding Google and infographics. We (as internet users) are also collectively faced with the problem of sorting through all of these poor-quality, spammy infographics to find the few gems mixed in with them.
What Can We Do?
Target the Source
Where do all of these spamfographics come from? In truth they come from sources all over the world and from everyone to individuals working in their free time to large companies and their design and marketing departments. With services that promise to deliver an amazing infographic for a fraction of other agencies, or offers for template infographics that you can customize yourself, it is easier than ever for ‘anyone’ to get in on the trend and create an infographic of their very own. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but in a vast majority of cases this easy access to and availability of cheap infographics has not been a positive thing.
What we can do is put the word out about these services and actively work not to utilize them for our businesses. Does this eliminate the problem? No, it doesn’t, but it does take the all-important first step. There will always be people who are desperate / cheap / etc enough to accept the lowest-cost solution, regardless of the long-term impact that solution might have for their own business, forget anything else.
Learn to Recognize ‘Good’ & ‘Bad’ Infographics
A ‘good’ infographic:
- Has good “visual grammar” and communicates its message clearly and concisely
- Is aesthetically pleasing
- Has data that has been thoroughly researched, verified, and cited where appropriate
- Is relevant to the business/person who owns it and their goals (i.e. an information technology company having an infographic on home computer use) for the website it is linked to
A ‘bad’ infographic:
- Lacks cohesive vision / Cannot be easily interpreted or understood
- Does not follow basic design principles such as attention to alignment and proximity
- Does not have a clear way to find the sources the creator used for their information, or when reviewing this information it is clear that it is not valid / relevant to the graphic & its subject matter
- Is, at best, loosely related to the business/person who owns it (i.e. an online school having an infographic about wearing glasses, because glasses help you see and seeing helps you learn online) and at worst is completely irrelevant to the business/person’s website that it is linked to and has a sole purpose of gaining links for the target site (believe it or not, this is far more common than we think!)
Promote the Best Infographics & Ignore the Rest
And last but not least, let your voice be heard! Promote and praise the good infographics that you find and let people know why they are so great. Use your vote of confidence to ensure that the people you know have the opportunity to recognize a good infographic when they see one! By mentioning and sharing examples of the best infographics on the web, we can push the good stuff to the top and leave the rest alone. In theory this practice would starve out the services providing low-quality spamfographics and no one would buy them anymore because people weren’t seeing and sharing them. Chances are however, that it won’t happen quite the way we might wish, and the only thing that will truly stop the production of spamfographics will be some severe and decisive action by major search engines like Google that renders them pointless in terms of link value. Until that day all we can do is try!
Special Section: Collections of great infographics to share
Want to get started sharing and promoting some awesome infographics? Look no further than these collections of some of the best infographics from all corners of the web:
- The 10 Best Marketing Infographics of 2012 (So Far) – by Corey Eridon
- Megan Jaegerman’s brilliant news graphics - by Edward Tufte
- 25 Best Infographics Of 2011 That Are Still Relevant Today – by Christian Vasile
- Creative Infographics: 20 Best Infographic Designs – by Eric Shafer
Care to Comment? Leave Your Thoughts Below!