Don’t be surprised if a new wave of unnatural link penalties are sent out via the Google Search Console for widget links.
Google issued a stern warning this morning on the Google Webmaster Blog saying that they are reminding webmasters that links within widgets can be against their webmaster guidelines.
Googlers, Agnieszka Łata, Trust & Safety Search Team and Eric Kuan, Webmaster Relations Specialist wrote “we would like to reiterate our policy on the creation of keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.” Google shared that while many widgets can enhance your web site experience, “some widgets add links to a site that a webmaster did not editorially place and contain anchor text that the webmaster does not control.” Google explained “because these links are not naturally placed, they’re considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.”
Google is reminding widget makers to remove the links from their widgets are add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the links. If they do not, Google said the “webspam team may take manual actions on unnatural links.” If you do get a manual action for this, Google said you need to remove the links or add the rel=”nofollow” before submitting a reconsideration request.
Additionally, those that embed these widgets on their site should “add a rel=”nofollow” attribute on those unnatural links or remove the links entirely from the widget,” Google said later on in their blog post.
Google did add three examples of widget links that are against the Google guidelines: