Google Webmaster Guidelines Reminder: Widgets That Will Most Likely Result In Penalties

Google Webmaster Guidelines Reminder: Widgets That Will Most Likely Result In Penalties

Today Goggle published a reminder to the world of Webmasters, SEOs, and Internet marketing professionals in a helpful post about website widget violations. This isn’t to be an end all to widgets such as core WordPress menu, tags, etc. Looking at the concise post by Google on the Webmaster’s blog it’s most likely a indication the coming algorithm updates will target third party widgets linking to the developer’s content without a rel=”nofollow” attribute.

McCrossen has provided a screen capture LinkedIn’s Jobs You Might Be Interested In Plugin Generator that, from our perspective, violates the Google Webmaster Guidelines. This isn’t a random choice. We routinely publish on LinkedIn, and this well know professional social media platform also provides us on a hypothetical manual spam exception case.


The code is fairly typical, and easily pasted into many content management systems, and of course most web standards. Depending on your usage it can add value to your website, as well as incur a manual spam action by Google.

The issue according to Google’s post is that the link attribute doesn’t contain this: rel=”nofollow” to tell Google not to follow the link from your website to the widget publisher’s site. To determine if your widget has this attribute, navigate to Firebug or similar application and look for the attribute in the link.

To help you with a so what? of this recent reminder we offer some advice and possible implications.

Assess Your Existing Content

It’s a good time to assess your website’s content and analytic data. The core question to ask about any content is; Does the visitor’s journey via the widget content convert to a sale or lead? In terms of the LinkedIn example there is an option to include only your company’s job listings. Even if you customize the widget, it’s not a clear cut journey.

LinkedIn in part serves as a job board, and as a directory you cannot analyze the journey a user makes after they click on your widget unless they submit a job application. Even then you don’t know if they visited competitors on LinkedIn.

In this example, you’re potentially risking manual spam action for job candidate leads in a highly automated process with little ability to optimize conversions.

Choose Wisely

Many of us use, or have used similar widgets for our web projects, and possibly for clients. A smart company will hire consultants and agencies like McCrossen who understand the message Google is communicating, and can manage and/or mitigate the impact.

Hypothetically if we developed a site for an executive recruiter using a commonly used job aggregator script we would simply add a page-level meta tag. Ideally professionals such as a recruiter would have access to proprietary databases and code. Our thoughts on this are that should rel=”nofollow” only mitigate some of the penalty for whatever reason, less common widgets of this sort would most likely go under the radar for a while.

All “widgets” are not the same. Many of my clients follow my advice to signup for bare minimum plans on directories such as the Better Business Bureau. For an insignificant fee my client usually acquires a recognizable authoritative graphic, a directory listing with at the very least local search value, and more search visibility.

However, with my client’s permission and with my consultation I strip the code from the provided graphics. The primary reason is I don’t like sending hard earned visitors off my clients’ sites. My guiding principle here is to ensure their is a guided and controlled journey to a conversion in my clients’ favor.


The best solution is to eliminate possible points of failure as they are discovered. The less variables you have in your optimization equation, the more likely you are to achieve results with nice ROI. Drop nice looking, semi-useful content such as widgets that drive traffic off your site with complex or nonexistent conversion tracking. Focus on content and a visitor journey that makes economic sense to your organization.

Matt McCrossen
Matt McCrossen

Matt McCrossen is the founder and President of McCrossen Consulting LLC, an award winning San Antonio based marketing company. Matt is the Internet Marketing Association's 2015 Distinguished Graduate and is a Certified Internet Marketer (CIM). He serves on the board of directors as the vice president for two San Antonio nonprofits, is the former City Council's Small Business Advocacy board chairman, honors graduate of the Bill Greehey School of Business, St. Mary's University, and decorated US Army Military Intelligence Veteran.

Related Posts