Syndicating Utilities and Infographics for SEO

By Peter Kent

A number of companies do a tremendous job at building truly huge numbers of incoming links by giving away web utilities and, more frequently these days, infographics. The basic concept is that you create something useful and let people place it on their website if they include a link back to your site.

Here’s an example. You may remember those dreadful page counters at the bottom of many web pages, a number showing how many people had visited the page (and essentially say to visitors, “the owner of this site is an amateur”)? Many of those page counters were given away to create links back to the site that was giving them away.

The code provided to people placing them on their sites included a small piece of text with a nicely keyworded link, and this strategy can work very well. Sometimes the counter linked back to the site giving away the counter; sometimes it linked back to a completely different site and promoted a different site owned by the owner of the counter site or perhaps a site the owner had been paid to promote.

A strategy involving giving something away can work in many different ways with a little imagination. Whatever you give away — clip art, videos, flash animations, calculators — make sure you include links back to your site. For instance, your rodent-racing site could distribute a utility for handicapping mice and rats. The utility would have a link back to your site — nicely keyworded — providing you with lots of great backlinks for search engines to read.

These days, a really popular “giveaway” is the Infographic; very tall (you have to scroll to see them all), cool, informational graphics, full of interesting statistics bundled into an attractive graphical package. The idea is that people pick up these things and post them in their Pinterest account, on their blog, in their social-networking account, and so on. You? Well, you get a link or two back to your site, because you provide a piece of code that people can use to embed the image, like this:

An infographic in InfographicsArchive.com, a library of infographics.

An infographic in InfographicsArchive.com, a library of infographics.
<a href=“http://yourdomain.org/blog/2016/02/winning-the-rodent-race/”><img src=“http://yourdomain.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/rodent-race.jpg” alt=“Winning the Rodent Race [Infographic]” border=“0” /></a><br />Via: <a href=“http://www.yourdomain.org/”>Rodent Racing for the Masses</a>

If you’re interested in this kind of link building, spend a little time in research; there’s an art to launching a widget or infographic. And one more thing: What does Google say about getting links from these things?

Well, as with many aspects of link building, Google feels it’s been overdone, and they’re right. In particular, they don’t like the idea of companies selling link space in widget and infographic code, as does happen sometimes.

It used to be popular for companies to build and distribute widgets of various kinds for the simple purpose of selling links in the embed code to third parties (it often worked very well as an SEO link-building technique). This seems to happen far less often with Infographics. They tend to be more promotional PR techniques, often used for pushing a website’s “brand.”

But here’s what Matt Cutts has said about links in these things; he complained about the “spammy” widgets and infographics (in particular when the link points back to a third party rather than the widget originator, or when the anchor text “really keyword rich”), and recommends the use of nofollow links.

He also stated that “I would not rely on widgets and infographics as your primary way to gather links” and that “I would not expect a link from a widget to necessarily carry the same weight as an editorial freely given where someone is recommending something and talking about it in a blog post.”