Google Reminds Webmasters That Widget Links Can Trigger Manual Actions

Google recently posted another reminder on Webmaster Central Blog for webmasters that are using widget links as of a link building strategy, making it clear that Google’s webspam team may take manual actions on unnatural links.

Today we would like to reiterate our policy on the creation of keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.

Here some examples of widgets which contain links that clearly violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

3 different examples of widget link that violate Google's link scheme guidelines and can trigger a manual action - penalty

How to avoid getting penalized from Widget Links

In order for webmasters to avoid getting penalized, they have to make sure that they don’t pass PageRank via their widgets. One way to do that is by adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute on the widget links and another way is to totaly remove the links from the widgets

Google’s history on Widget Links

That’s not the first time that Google goes after such kind of link building schemes, in fact it seems that almost every year they find a way to remind webmasters about widgets.

In 2015 during the English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, Google’s John Mueller covered the widget topic by answering the following question:

Question: I see well known sites using widgets to generate keyword rich backlinks via publishers. The guidelines aren’t 100% clear on providing widgets with defaulted backlinks. What is Google’s official stance on widgets with embedded keywords on “follow” links?

Answer: This is something I try to avoid. I think we have cleaned up the guidelines a little bit or we might be publishing fairly soon to kind of make this a little bit clearer on what we kind of expect here.

In 2014 Google updated the link schemes guideline page making the widget links section more clear and specific.

Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites

In 2013 Matt Cutts created another video regarding widgets and clearly said to webmasters and to those who embeded widgets on their sites that the links should be nofollwoed.

I would recommend putting a nofollow, especially on widgets.

In 2012 Google posted another warning about new notifications about inbound links and widgets.

If you get this new link message, you may want to check your most recent links to spot anything unusual going on. If you discover that someone in your company has been doing widgetbait, paid links, or serious linkspam, it’s worth cleaning that up and submitting a reconsideration request.

Act Now

Whether you are a webmaster who users widgets on your link building strategy or you host widgets on your site make sure you update the links and add a rel=”nofollow”.

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