Google has posted a reminder for site owners to not use widgets that have a followed link within it.
Despite it being clearly against Google’s webmaster guidelines, many site owners still gain links via widgets. And regardless of the motivation, links – in widgets or just as a regular link – cannot be placed in exchange for something, whether it be product, reviews, a return link, a listing or access to something.
However, links within widgets are still find to use IF the link is a nofollowed one.
Widgets can help website owners enrich the experience of their site and engage users. However, some widgets add links to a site that a webmaster did not editorially place and contain anchor text that the webmaster does not control. Because these links are not naturally placed, they’re considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Google often reminds people of specific aspects of the webmaster guidelines to coincide with a crackdown on the particular issue, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see new link manual actions being sent out or perhaps the upcoming Penguin being able to target these types of links more effectively.
If you have placed any widgets on your own sites that contain a followed link, you should remove those widgets or change the link to a nofollow. If you are a site owner issuing those widgets, you should reach out to those who have implemented it and ask for the link to be changed to a nofollow one as well as updating the widget download instructions to a nofollow link. And if you do get hit with a manual action, be prepared to disavow those sites that don’t change the link to a nofollow one.
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