Google updated its link scheme guidelines page on January 10, 2014, making the widget links section more specific. Now ‚Äėkeyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets distributed over various sites‚Äô are against Google‚Äôs guidelines. We can say Google‚Äôs attitude towards widget link building has softened a bit as the search engine giant had earlier said links (whatever type) embedded in widgets distributed over sites can affect a site‚Äôs SERP ranking.
In August 2013, Matt Cutts advised people who place widgets on their site or distribute widgets to add rel= ‚Äúno follow‚ÄĚ on the links embedded. He said that most website owners who embed widgets on their sites don‚Äôt realize what else they are embedding outside the functionality of widget itself. Suppose the widget is to embed a poll on your site. It may have a link back to the poll website, without a nofollow on that link. Widget makers are advised to include a nofollow on that link to ensure that the webmaster who is embedding the widget on their site will not be inadvertently passing PageRank to the widget provider‚Äôs site. Matt Cutts also clarified that links embedded in widgets would not carry the same significance as a true editorial link.
What is significant is that Google does not like widgets being used as a link tactic, particularly if the link embedded in the widget is not a quality link. This means that Google will most probably penalize low quality or irrelevant links, keyword-stuffed anchor text links and hidden links.
If you are a widget provider and want people to know how to get the widget, it would be alright for you to include a link back to the site. The best practice would be to use a branded link or your company/website name as the anchor text to avoid ambiguity and stay away from Google‚Äôs penalties.
It is evident that Google is specially focusing on widgets that carry links. With the latest developments in this regard, the focus should be on gaining editorial or freely given links from websites that are relevant or related. When it comes to constructive link building, the best option is to get reliable support from a professional website design company that offers creative web design and SEO services.