Google’s Latest Official Stance On Links Within Widgets

google-war-links-featuredJust five-months ago Google’s head of search spam strongly recommended to nofollow links in widgets because the widget space has been abused with link spam.

That may have changed with a small but significant update to the Google Webmaster Guidelines link schemes page. Now, the page specifies the exact type of links that are not allowed within widgets, as opposed to saying any links.

Previously the guideline read:

Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.

Today the guideline reads:

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

As you can see, Google changed their stance on the type of links you can have in widgets. Specifically saying that not all links are not allowed but only keyword rich, hidden or low-quality links are not allowed.

Here is the video from Matt Cutts on widget links:

Hat tip to Kenichi Suzuki for sharing this with us.

Postscript: Matt Cutts tweeted the real reason they made the change in the terminology. It was because of Danny Sullivan, he said it was too general and Google should be more specific. So Google updated the content to be more specific:


Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Link Building: General | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Andre Bell

    Great tips/clarity in this video of Matt! Thanks!

  • gonnabethatguy

    I’m still not 100% clear if one needs to put a nofollow on links on the widget that say “powered by [company name]” for example. I’d love to hear what the consensus is on that. Thanks for the post!

  • Sameh

    I don’t think it’s fair of Google to ask to add “nofollow” to widgets. Not using a keyword rich links doesn’t sound that bad. I’m currently developing a set of widgets for one of my websites and my plan is to use “Powered by Website .com” but will not add “nofollow”.

  • Evan VanDerwerker

    If Google is the game, than Google sets the rules. It sees to me it’s pretty unorthodox to even share these tricks of the trade.

    Appreciate the recap, Barry!

  • Chipper Nicodemus

    Well then you shouldn’t be surprised if/when you get penalized.

  • Durant Imboden

    Is the purpose of your “Powered by Website dot com” link to promote your brand and attract clickthroughs? If so, why would you object to a rel=”nofollow” that users won’t even see?

    If the purpose of your “Powered by Website dot com” link is to acquire PageRank, then you shouldn’t be surprised if Google sees that as a type of paid link (i.e., “I’ll give you my widget to use if you send mePageRank”).

  • Jonathan Jones

    This is quite interesting. I actually reported a very large website recently that I thought was abusing widgets, as they were creating widgets for the sole purpose of having a link in there. No other benefit, other than the widget and the anchor text within that widget. They’ve been ranking very well across all verticals of the market as a result and have been for quite sometime.

  • Sameh

    If I understand latest Google Guidelines correctly, Google has no problem with Widgets links as long as it’s not “Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets”.

  • Tian_Mian

    Google should also add to its guidelines that the rule doesn’t apply to keyword rich Amazon spam.

  • Tian_Mian

    Google should also add to its guidelines that the rule doesn’t apply to keyword rich Amazon spam.

  • Sergio Reyes

    I was thinking of adding badges to our Sellers Tools but now I’m not sure whether or not to make them follow/nofollow links. The badges would not be keyword rich, nor would they have low quality links. The links would simply point to the merchandise the seller has on sale on our site. However, the links are technically hidden being that they’re embedded. What’s your interpretation of Google’s guidelines regarding badges?

  • Sanket Nadhani

    Yep that’s my reading of it as well. I don’t see how using your brand name in a widget and linking to your website is wrong, the only thing is these links through widgets will pass much lesser link juice than an editorial mention.

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