If there’s anything the search industry truly loves (besides links and eating its own, of course) it’s FUD. We love creating it, spreading it and, boy, do we love talking about it. And it’s a love that only grows with age.

Last week, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s spam team, went on the record to say Google doesn’t give links found in infographics and widgets as much weight as editorially-given links. The reason being that when a user embeds a widget or infographic, they don’t often realize they embedding a link with it. Because Google is so committed to protecting its users (stop laughing right now!), it’s just easier if these links are nofollow’d. Easier for Google, of course.

Listen to Matt explain in his video:

The Internet result of Matt’s quick statement was exactly what you’d expect. It was a lot of FUD. A lot of forum, social and blog conversations around whether or not all infographic links really need to be nofollow’d, whether linking to third-party sites was now unsafe and if site owners would get penalized for links that pass juice.

For those of us in the search community, it’s easy enough to read through these threads and move on.

But imagine you’re not an SEO. Imagine you’re a normal person. You’re a business owner. Or the marketing manager in a small company. You’re not trying to “get one over” on the search engines or artificially inflate your rank. You’re just trying to grow your business and do what you think you’re supposed to be doing.

What do updates like this mean to you?

Probably nothing.

No, really, do I have to nofollow my links? Are infographics bad? HELP!

No, you don’t.
And, no, they’re not.

But don’t be stupid either. Don’t do scummy stuff.

If infographics have become your only way of attracting links, either because you thought that’s what you were supposed to do or because that’s the only trick your SEO company has up its sleeve, you’re doing something wrong. Not because Google might slap you or because Google says its bad, but because you’re not doing your customers any good. They may Ooh and Ahh over your pretty graphic, but if that’s all you’re offering, you’re likely not truly serving their needs. It’s not solving their problem. This makes you susceptible to the FUD this industry circulates.

How do I create a FUD-proof marketing strategy?

Create stuff that solves problems. And then give it to your customer.

That’s how you provide value, develop a community, attract those warm social juices and develop a brand that Google can’t help but show. It’s not new advice. It’s not radical advice. It’s often-unfollowed advice. It’s common sense advice. But in our fight for rankings, we’ve lost common sense.

We need to get that back. Being great, in a way that both customers and the engines reward, as never looked so good.

10 ways to become great?

  1. Develop a simple website.
  2. Create content that fills a need. [Use content marketing tools to help]
  3. Adopt an integrated marketing strategy that drives traffic from a number of different sources (not just Google) and doesn’t focus too much on one specific tactic. Find more baskets for those eggs.
  4. Take a Real Company Shit approach to link building. [credit: Wil Reynolds.]
  5. Interact with your community.
  6. LINK to your community.
  7. Become an expert and share your knowledge.
  8. Help your customers.
  9. Provide value.
  10. Focus on growth. Of your business. Of your customers. Of your industry.

That’s the stuff that matters and to focus on. Do that, and the FUD goes away. Because the FUD can’t silence people who love your business for the right reasons.

Good marketing, good advertising doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to mean something to someone.