Since 2016, Google has made it clear that links in widgets (embedded features on sites displaying data from external sites) are against their quality guidelines. What is really their SEO interest in 2022? John Mueller recently responded to this.
Reminder: what is a widget?
A widget can also be used to add various dynamic functionalities to a static site (ex: an evolution calendar, the weather of the day, the share price, etc.).
Here is a concrete example of a Widget (without an “SEO” link) that allows you to display real-time data from the SEMrush Sensor (free SEO tool to monitor the volatility of SERPs):
Although this practice of inserting links in widgets is less and less widespread, many widget developers still continue to add links in embedded features to redirect to their websites.
Do these links still have any SEO value?
Google confirms that it ignores (but does not penalize) these types of links
In a tweet, John Muellerwebmaster trends analyst at Google and one of Google’s “official” spokespersons on all topics related to the functioning of algorithms related to organic search results, confirmed that such links were against Google’s quality guidelines but that these were also easily detected and ignored by GoogleBot.
Google thus confirmed that from an SEO point of view, there was officially no interest in creating this type of links.
On the other hand, John Mueller also confirmed that these links do not negatively affect the SEO positioning of a website if they are detected, except in rare cases where manual actions could take place (one can imagine for example in the case where a site would have exclusively links coming from this type of widgets).
Should we really remove or avoid these links at all costs in the widgets?
If from an SEO point of view, Google’s statements seem to confirm that these links do not bring any proven SEO interest to optimize the referencing of the site that is targeted (whether in nofollow or dofollow), most of the time, these links allow Internet users to know the source of the data or the software.
The simple marketing interest and notoriety to integrate this type of link could therefore justify that it is still as relevant for a developer of widgets to integrate them, all the more so if these links do not in any way risk penalizing the overall referencing of the targeted site.