Google Updates Link Guidelines: Widget Links Are Allowed When...

Jan 10, 2014 • 8:50 am | comments (43) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

widget iconKenichi Suzuki notified me via Google+ that Google has updated the link schemes guideline page. Specifically making the widget links section more specific and less general.

Now it reads:

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

Yesterday is read:

Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example:

The example was the same, here are screen shots if you do not believe me:


Google Widget Links Guidelines New


Google Widget Links Guidelines Old

As you can see, Google stopped saying any links and now is specifically saying keyword-rich or hidden or low-quality links within widgets are against Google guidelines.

Matt Cutts, Google's head of search spam, said in August of last year to nofollow links in widgets in this video:

So I guess Google backed down a bit on this by being more specific on the type of links in the widgets.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Update: So what is the real reason for the change?

Previous story: Dated Content Impacts Your Google Rankings?


Gregory Smith

01/10/2014 02:05 pm

Awesome share Barry. I've started rel="nofollow"> all my sidebar links on I have left some without the nofollow tag. Those are high quality links. You can review the sidebar of Search Simplicity to learn more about what you can and can not do. -Gregory Smith

Subhash Prajapati

01/10/2014 03:19 pm

I also started rel="nofollow" for my sidebar links.

David Iwanow

01/10/2014 03:55 pm

Ah yeah what defines "low quality" is kinda broad does that mean not relevant, spammy or does that also include brand & noise links???

Gareth Mailer

01/10/2014 04:09 pm

I think the obvious reason for this is that it protects web developers, many of whom place a link at the bottom of websites they've put together. I think there's some justification in that - it's work they've done and despite the fact the client has paid for it, you could argue that the developer is being referenced for legitimate reasons.

Michael Martinez

01/10/2014 04:24 pm

I would suggest that people who use funky font sizes and colors to make their links difficult for users to see and less likely to attract attention are probably the guys the "low quality" links comment is directed at.

Nick Murden

01/10/2014 04:25 pm

Well if I ever want 'Best local SEO services' I'll at least know where to go now.

Rahul Trivedi

01/10/2014 04:26 pm

Yes Gareth. Exactly. This news for those developers who put their link in footer of their developed site.

Chipper Nicodemus

01/10/2014 04:49 pm

Is a brand name "keyword rich?"

Rahul Trivedi

01/10/2014 04:55 pm

No it wont i think

Jonathan Hatton

01/10/2014 04:56 pm

Unless you have an EMD ;)

Chris Tam

01/10/2014 06:40 pm

Michael, Google mentioned "hidden" links specifically. Does this imply that "low quality" means something else rather than hidden (or hard to see) links? This brings us back to David's question - what defines low quality?


01/10/2014 06:59 pm

you mean how google marks their "ad/sponsored" notification links? ;)

Laura Wolf

01/10/2014 08:41 pm

Interesting. So killing widgets, html,site redesign? Do you have any idea about the status of internal linking? Is it untouched?

Michael Martinez

01/10/2014 11:01 pm

"you mean how google marks their "ad/sponsored" notification links? ;)" Show me how those links influence search results. You can hide all the text you want on your Website and Google doesn't care as long as it won't influence their search results.

Michael Martinez

01/10/2014 11:02 pm

In my experience (modified by my opinion) whenever Google qualifies something with "low quality" they are implying that there are examples which are "high quality" that they find acceptable. It may be only slightly better than "we know it when we see it". But, come on, people don't do this cheesy stuff for their visitors.

Yogendra Chavda

01/11/2014 04:47 am

what about huffpost's footer links? Many of the links having keyword as anchor! check screenshot for their footer. eagerly want to know about this.

White Rabbit InfoTech

01/11/2014 04:58 am

I've a doubt. What if there's an essential widget (that works for an installed plugin) on my website that's not doing what Google says. Will Google harm my website's performance in that case.

Yogendra Chavda

01/11/2014 05:07 am

I think you'll be safe if your links aren't going through any keyword! If you are getting link from the brand name, that will be OK. IMO


01/11/2014 06:03 am goto

Peter Watson

01/11/2014 09:35 am

What if you use a keyword rich anchor in a widget for a sites blog? So it is effectively an internal link. Is that ok?


01/11/2014 11:52 am

would a widget code with anchor text "click here to order online" violate guidelines?

Jitendra Vaswani

01/11/2014 12:13 pm

Good practice

Casey Markee, MBA

01/11/2014 04:29 pm

Possibly. The goal here is to surface "branded" or "naked" anchor texts. So in your case, the BEST option would just be "click here." Or just using your Brand Name. "Click Here for Acme Limited."

Casey Markee, MBA

01/11/2014 04:32 pm

HuffPro and others would probably argue these are "editorially given" and since they are not sitewide, they don't have much trigger concerns. Clearly these are a lot of links but they are all (mostly) high-quality links. And again, it's not that you CAN'T link out, it's that you need to link out to QUALITY sites.


01/11/2014 04:40 pm

Specific or general the statement is the same : wide = risky !


01/11/2014 08:41 pm

thanks Casey. Don't you think its very bad Google guidelines are open to interpretation? After all, like many, we are a business with several million turnover, many employees, lots of customers, lots of responsibilities. Fact is, as MD I lie awake at night worrying about the smoke and mirrors garbage that are Google guidelines. Google penalties are real enough - yet Google guidelines are open to interpretation. ps Our brand name includes a keyword so we can't actually use "click here for acme limited" Or can we?? You know we are all intelligent folk on here - this whole situation is ridiculous right?


01/11/2014 10:53 pm

So Google+ widget links are still outside the guidelines as they are hidden and keyword-rich. Google optimizes them so that they can outrank everybody for their own names. You can't even add nofollow to these unnatural links, as they sneak in the code invisibly.

menachem rosenbaum

01/12/2014 07:29 am

link from widget with brand name is OK. what about a link from the slogan? (may have key words)

White Rabbit InfoTech

01/12/2014 03:17 pm

Thanks buddy

Luana @ n0tSEO

01/12/2014 04:53 pm

Reminds me of Orwell's "Animal Farm" where "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". P.S. This is Luana, your blog commenter. :) I forgot my Disqus password and I'm in a rush, so...

Mike Pannell

01/12/2014 05:59 pm

Well then they need to look at trulia and zilliow because their link profile is filled with these.. They tell these realtors to add different things to their site that it will help there traffic but each widget has key worded anchor text like 3 times per widget.. These dumb Realtor add them thinking they are cool..

Durant Imboden

01/12/2014 06:37 pm

Exactly. The HuffPo links are legitimate (and visible) citations that were created by the site's editors, not by an outside supplier of a widget or infographic.

Yogendra Chavda

01/13/2014 05:00 am

True Casey, all the links are relevant and going to BIG authority sites. My concern was about using keyword as anchor which isn't hurting site at all due to the authority of that linked site. Thank you casey for the clarification. :)

Yogendra Chavda

01/13/2014 05:00 am

Yeap, true.

Yogendra Chavda

01/13/2014 05:01 am

You're welcome :D

Jitendra Vaswani

01/13/2014 07:10 am

Internal linking is good if done in quality way. You can interlink your posts with your blog posts and also interlink it to other relevant authority websites

Jitendra Vaswani

01/13/2014 07:11 am

Putting links in widgets or footer is not bad. But there need to be quality of that.

Sherri Huson

01/13/2014 10:16 am

Makes sense

Narendra Kumar Pankaj

01/13/2014 05:36 pm

Google is not fool! If your business name has keywords in it, then what? You or anybody not gonna use several time in one line or paragraph. Are you? The real concern is to stop bad practices.


01/16/2014 11:31 pm

only one question - can google define what is low quality??? because it can be anything, so we need clear definition.

Gregory Smith

01/19/2014 07:36 pm

Low quality can very easily be justified...


01/19/2014 09:35 pm

it very very unclear. somebody can think what link from askhives/whois sites is low quality, but google using that. lot of other different examples.

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06/13/2014 12:02 pm

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