If you’re an SEO that stays on top of the news and update, you would have heard this back in 2015. Today on the Google Webmaster Blog, Google made a reminder about their policies on widget links.
If you are unfamiliar with a widget, it is a small application that runs on your site. The example Google used were a hits counter, stock widget, and small video one. Though these were the examples used, widgets are not limited those items.
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.
What is going to happen? Well, if your site is hiding backlinks in widgets that they deem as “unnatural,” Google has stated that they will take manual action. This means your site will be given a manual penalty or warning. You can check for these updates within Search Console – but the best first step would be to evaluate your backlinks and their location.
If you think you have links that will be penalized – consider adding them as rel=”nofollow” links, removing them completely, or disavowing them within search console.
With rumours of a Penguin Update on the horizon – it is important to take a thorough look at your backlink profile and ensure it passes Google’s standards. Check your backlinks using multiple tools like Search Console, Open Site Explorer, Majestic, and Ahrefs. Once you have one consolidated list – check the anchor text, trust flow, and citation flow to ensure they are valid.
Not sure if a link passes the test? Take a look at Google’s Quality Guidelines.
If you do get hit with a manual penalty, fix up what is required and then submit your site for reconsideration to hopefully get it cleaned up.
Need more information? Check out this video from the Google Webmaster Youtube page.