Google: Links Within Widgets Must Be Nofollowed

Aug 13, 2013 • 8:53 am | comments (63) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

widget links

Yesterday, Matt Cutts, Google's head of search spam, posted another video on links clearly telling widget makers and those who embed widgets on their own sites that those links should be nofollowed.

He said clearly, "I would recommend putting a nofollow, especially on widgets."

Honestly, this message should come as no surprise. Matt said so even back in 2008 but obviously it didn't make much of a difference back then. The links still counted and still worked. But now with Google going after more and more links, I would expect you should be more careful with widgets. Also, in 2011 we discussed this specific topic quoting Google's John Mueller in our story Google Says You Can't Hide Links With Disclosure.

Matt also mentioned his distaste for infographics and how Google will discount those links as well.

So in short, if you distribute widgets or place widgets on your own site, nofollow those links. Heck, I post polls here often and I have not nofollowed those links. Although the link does link directly to the poll, so I am not sure how "bad" it is.

Forum discussion at Google+ and WebmasterWorld.

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Praveen Sharma

08/13/2013 01:01 pm

The day is near when Google will ask for 100% nofollow backlink portfolio to qualify for organic rankings.


08/13/2013 01:02 pm

so, everybody who not reading seo news every day, will don't know what the new 'brilliant' idea comes to brain of matt cutts. I think this guys overdo about "spam". Now everything is "spam" for them.

Martin Oxby

08/13/2013 01:17 pm

Disturbingly looking like it...

jitendra vaswani

08/13/2013 01:24 pm

WHy Google is doing , did they want only nofollow link , should we have 100% nofollow link profile

Durant Imboden

08/13/2013 01:57 pm

Stands to reason. An embedded link in a widget isn't a "vote" a "citation," or an editorially-inspired pointer to another resource. It's something that was inserted by the widget's programmer, not by the site owner or editor. There's nothing to keep a widget supplier from telling publishers, "If you like and use our widget, we hope you'll link to us."

Adrian Pusca

08/13/2013 02:34 pm

:D this is the Matt Cutts direction

Marie Haynes

08/13/2013 03:08 pm

I think that the majority of the people who are commenting about this have not actually watched the video. To me it sounds like Matt is saying that some widget links can be followed, but don't abuse anchor text and don't do it on a massive scale. He said not to use it as your main way to get links. The comment about nofollowing was what he would recommend if you have used this tactic on a large scale.


08/13/2013 03:41 pm

just at this time people not expect anything good from google. cutts & co will do anything to you unable to get some rankings.


08/13/2013 04:36 pm

This post's title is incredibly misleading.. Please let us know where exactly in the video did Matt say that widget links MUST be nofollowed. And back in 2008 Matt didn't say that all links must be nofollowed, he even gave examples of uses where it was ok to have a link on a widget, like the Ubuntu launch counter or something like that. At that time he said that if the widget linked to the page or site where other users could get the widget, that was fine


08/13/2013 04:36 pm

I think you misunderstood this a bit Barry, he's talking about the link within the poll that links to polldaddy to be nofollowed. So it's out of your control really because that link is within the javascript generated by polldaddy. So Matt's asking widget makers to nofollow the links back to their site which appear within widgets, or snippets.


08/13/2013 04:39 pm

It's funny because eventually they will say that's a paid link anyway, they are paying you with a service for linking back. What a buncha bull.

Prashant Bairwa

08/13/2013 04:45 pm

Not 100% no-follow links but the links those seems to get in expectation of passing page rank to help getting top search places in search engine are expected to be no-followed


08/13/2013 05:47 pm

i think what nofollow link is unnatural thing, because created to manipulate organic serp. may be at next year will new link rel attributes, like authoritybutinottrust, notautoritybutitrust, commercialitrust,commercialinottrust, thisiswikipedia, verygoodandauthority, ugs, giveprbutnotauthority, etc. I think google totally lost in things they do now. They even cannot get rid of spam at own blogspot and youtube (have spammy link from every spammy site in the world, but rank best because white lists and authority).

Heather Physioc

08/13/2013 08:54 pm

Regarding the infographic links, the question specifically references the links that come automatically in the embed codes if it's similar to the widget phenomenon, not just anyone who embeds an infographic in their post and gives legitimate credit to the original creator, perhaps in the content That automatic embed code is obviously easy to manipulate. It doesn't scream "authentic vouch for your site" to me, and it's easy for the embedder to overlook that little backlink. On the flip side, obviously the person liked you enough to embed your infographic on their page, and it seems that anyone who can embed an infographic on their site would probably know how to spot a link in the embed code, so why not take credit for your work in that way? Probably because it leans to the deceptive side (though some would argue it's just ... marketing). It's a tough call, and I'm on the fence about it to be honest (not that I have a say in the matter). I understand raising the red flag to huge inundations of links from infographic automatic embed code, but at the same time if someone devotes the time to research and design a legitimate, authentic, high quality infographic - which readers seem to love for its ease of use and simplicity for digesting information - it doesn't seem outlandish to get (take) a backlink in return for providing that content for free for someone else's site. At the end of the day, if it's too easy to do en masse or seems too good to be true, then it probably won't sustain long-term benefits.

Barry Schwartz

08/13/2013 09:24 pm

That is what I thought I said. :)

Barry Schwartz

08/13/2013 09:25 pm

Okay, don't nofollow them. Let's see what happens in a year.

Barry Schwartz

08/13/2013 09:25 pm

I disagree. Of course, Google is not the law. But hey, this is a clear warning.

Takeshi Young

08/13/2013 09:45 pm

Nofollow all the links!


08/13/2013 11:29 pm

Instead of telling which links should be nofollowed, Matt should just let users know which links should be dofollowed.

Fredrik Eriksson

08/14/2013 12:08 am

I want more competitors in the search engine business. We have all been sucked into something that isn't really our problem. It's the search engines problems to provide quality search results, not for site owners to do it for them. I can see the usefulness in the nofollow value, but they are pushing it to a level that is ridiculous. Even newspapers that write about awesome services and websites are using nofollow on every link because they are too afraid to place a natural link. That is if they are creating any link at all of course. God knows what will happen if some link juice is leaked away. THAT is a real problem! A problem created by Google themselves.

Fredrik Eriksson

08/14/2013 12:12 am

They have lost value for several years now, especially widgets that are site wide. The problem about widgets is that you don't necessarily control the widgets that are already used on thousands of sites. That can be a nightmare to clean up.

Fredrik Eriksson

08/14/2013 12:17 am

I agree with Barry. When have Google ever talked about the exact actions they will take in the coming year? They have however warned about problems that they are looking into. The best outcome for widgets creators is lowered link value.

Jan Dunlop

08/14/2013 12:33 am

Hmmm... Better nofollow those links on your map widgets Google, you may end up penalizing yourself :)


08/14/2013 02:43 am

Wait I have an idea, why doesn't Google just design my whole webpage, and I'll give them all the text..... when is this insanity going to stop? Google needs to rethink this whole black/white link crap. If Google can't figure out how to rank page based on links, how the heck is half the internet (most who don't follow SEO) going to do it. Daft.... just daft.

lez bennet

08/14/2013 03:11 am

Google is in quite a pickle. Everyone is bad except them. Now YELP, WALKSCORE and others with widgets must follow Google's lead, or else? Google should just admit that controlling the world's backlinks is an impossible task. Just simple impossible. Google should devise a new crafty mechanism to evaluate 'popularity'. Google itself has become very unpopular with all its shenanigans.

lez bennet

08/14/2013 03:12 am

I reckon you're spot on

lez bennet

08/14/2013 03:12 am

All google links are good. All others, baaaad

lez bennet

08/14/2013 03:13 am

Well said Well sad

lez bennet

08/14/2013 03:13 am

Google should ignore all links - Devise a new system. Its failed with this one

Michael Merritt

08/14/2013 04:20 am

Does this mean Twitter needs to nofollow self-referential links to user profiles and status links on its embed widget?

James Carter

08/14/2013 04:58 am

I think we should make all links no-follow. better than waiting for its next update.


08/14/2013 05:18 am

"" clearly telling widget makers and those who embed widgets on their own sites "" here you mentioned site owners also ... :-)

Kamaldeep Singh SEO

08/14/2013 05:37 am

I agree with you, We should make all links no-follow. Because google can do anything :P so be aware

PM Fiorini

08/14/2013 06:29 am

This is really getting ridiculous. Matt Cutts and the web spam team need a vacation and and need to find real jobs. The problem with the web spam team at Google is in order to "justify" their existence at Google, they need to always find web spam - even when there is no spam! Otherwise, they might as well close up shop and find other jobs. This is really getting embarrassing for Google (and Cutts) and makes *Google* the true manipulator of search results on the Internet. Google needs to "let go" and let the Internet grow, develop, and prosper naturally. That is the right thing to do.


08/14/2013 06:55 am

No, there is no else for top brands. They are exceptions and Google or Matt Cutts guidelines are only for small players who want to become a brand. Google is playing and playing to drag people to PPC.


08/14/2013 06:57 am

Also for FeedBurner's widget, nofollow the link.


08/14/2013 06:59 am

At one end Google want to write good article so that people who love your content will link back to you to give a natural link. On the other hand it is cautioning every link to be nofollow. Is Google ranking factor - Links is transformed to nofollow links? Or how could anyone get natural links that are not nofollowed?


08/14/2013 07:57 am

What about disqus? They have tooooons of links via widgets.


08/14/2013 08:54 am

Tooooooons of nofollow links!

Barry Schwartz

08/14/2013 09:58 am

Yes, that should be obvious. If the link should be no followed by the widget maker. Then obviously the webmaster should be concerned on some level.

Sushi Digital

08/14/2013 12:02 pm

Technically, links from any website location can boost ranking. Now Google is after site wide links.

Sushi Digital

08/14/2013 12:07 pm

If Google make G+ nofollow they will lost followers


08/14/2013 01:03 pm

It´s been one of the silliest stories that marketers have been told online (by Google representatives and others) that a legitimate link would be one that "votes" or "cites". A link represents a connection to the respective source/resource. That´s it. Nothing to add. All interpretations that relate to this "votes+citations" flubdub, will logically go nowhere. They fall victim to the deliberate rules and norms made by Matt Cutts & Co.

sunil kumar

08/14/2013 01:20 pm

Google wants that all users should use Google+ and they can beat the facebook. so they release this post (all links are nofollow and on Google+ links are dofollow)..what a strategy by Google..


08/14/2013 03:46 pm

Nope... check the disqus logo, there's no nofollow atribute

David Urmann

08/14/2013 04:29 pm

Should take tripadvisor down in the rankings if it holds true.


08/14/2013 06:31 pm

so we need to do it for google, not because it natural? yes, because google kill freedom in the internet.


08/14/2013 06:34 pm

than more authority, than more level of forgiveness google algorithm have. Also it treat brands by other algorithm, and allow huge amount of exact match keywords in anchors. This was at seo study at this year. Big, Medium, Brands, and Small sites is treated by different way by google algorithm 2013.


08/14/2013 06:38 pm

for last 2 years google become black hat itself, see - biggest mfa site, ads above fold, promotion of own services and purchased websites (like coupons, youtube, etc), google chrome/etc promoted with "forbidden follow contextual" links from guest posts/advertorials, no taxes, etc....


08/14/2013 06:45 pm

and who cares what Google tells you to do? They don't own your website. I would recommend that you must never ever rely on Google for your traffic - then you aren't subject to their ever-changing rules which only benefit corporations with deep pockets, and not the sole online entrepreneur.


08/14/2013 06:48 pm

exactly. only google have natural links. all others cheating big google. So google become blackhat itself, and start cheating us.


08/14/2013 06:50 pm

I not think what "nofollow" links is natural. It created specially to manipulate organic serp (in google and in other search engines). Also see how google dictatorship tank your ranking in other search engines.


08/14/2013 06:54 pm

only links to google services can be dofollow. It will prevent small business sites to rank in bing/yahoo/etc. All traffic only for google!


08/14/2013 08:04 pm

yes. use gateway sites to get traffic from google. keep your primary site safe.


08/14/2013 10:36 pm

Sadly, Google does not care much about privacy either. Shortly after performing search for Kemp products I come here and am presented with Kemp advertising by Google. Using the "we are only showing ads that are pertinenet, well you wouldn't know that if it wasn't for you coming in to MY COMPUTER to see my history. As website owners we have all found ourselves in a postion that we need them to survive, but all they really want is more private information. Too bad there isn't any real competition in the search space that are not controlled by monopolies. Personally I use very few widgets and have no problem no-foolowing links in those that I use and have been doing that mostly for years.


08/15/2013 01:58 am

that's all links though lol. there is no such thing as an organic link, if a link is dofollow by definition it passes pagerank. so if i write an article with the intention that someone will link back to me how is that any different to creating a widget or infographic for the same purpose. face it white hats we are all blackhats now :(

Scott Hartley

08/15/2013 02:49 am

Alright let me try to explain. 1. This is preventing people from creating widgets or rehashing others and placing their links all over the place. That is how it should be if you want to have your links on their sites then you get smacked with a lower page rank. 2. Disqus will not affect sites and there is reason for that, from the way he worded only they would be punished because they placed the links and since Disqus is very popular they wont notice it. 3. You can make these links no follow the feed burner wont affect you but the feed burner site maybe. The actual percentage from these links is barely noticeable so you will not be in trouble. Personally this is how it should be, have your links as no follow, or you get punished. It promotes truly free widgets, and it will remove spammy sites who are abusing the ignorant. When i design a widget I don't place links or comments about my site all i ask is for them to share the post if it helped them. No spam free stuff and they don't get tricked by some jerk.

Some Rabbit

08/22/2013 01:23 am

Google is probably the only site(s) that has a 10/10 page rank. Which proves it's good to be King.


08/28/2013 09:56 am

Look like Matt or Google employee has taken a note of what you and i had suggested to them: NoFollow their Widget and they have done now: Delivered by FeedBurner

Russ Powers

08/31/2013 07:07 pm

I manage a WordPress based website and use footer widgets to sort my footer navigation in two groups, services and resources. Should I nofollow these links even though they act primarily as a footer navigation?


09/03/2013 01:10 pm

"clearly telling widget makers and those who embed widgets on their " yet.. "I would recommend putting a nofollow" How is 'recommending' translatable into 'clearly telling' ???


09/03/2013 04:17 pm

I would recommend to not listen mr cutts.

Steve K

03/08/2014 08:34 pm

To Matt - stick a fork in it dude...Nobody should listen to this guy anymore. He acts like a bully. You and Google represent less than 10% of the entire web traffic when combined with all internet traffic out there...

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