When to “no follow” info graphics and widgets

An increasing number of businesses are looking to create viral content such as info graphics or other tools such as widgets, counters and badges that can include embeddable code.

Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts has provided a guide to business owners and digital marketing teams about how best to link these tools for best SEO practice in Google.

A few years ago, SEO teams were able to manipulate Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) by making embeddable tools such as badges and counters and including a direct link back to their own site, often using keyword-heavy anchor text.

The trouble is, as with any previously effective link-building technique, it soon became inundated with spam. Google subsequently negated and penalised many of these links and it soon fell out of common practice in an SEO’s plan of attack.

Nevertheless, the increase in the use of info graphics as a means of building authority for a business and encouraging social shares has resulted in webmasters being offered embeddable code to put on their sites once again.

So how should you handle links back to your site in the post-Panda era? What techniques should you adopt to ensure Google doesn’t penalise such links? Matt Cutts suggests simply no following them, and use it strictly for the traffic a direct click would achieve.

“I would not rely on widgets and info graphics as your primary source to gather links, and I would recommend putting a no follow, especially with widgets,” said Cutts.

In his short video discussing the topic he notes that a lot of issues stem from people using tools such as counters and widgets without realising there was a link back to a site embedded within it. Many of them are hidden supremely well and can hinder a website’s link profile without them even knowing it.

“Depending on the scale of stuff you’re doing with info graphics you might consider putting a rel=no follow on info graphic links as well,” added Cutts.

“The value of those things might be branding, they might be to drive traffic, they might be to sort of let people to know that your site or your service exists but I wouldn’t expect a link from a widget to necessarily carry the same weight as an editorial link freely given where someone is recommending something and talking about it in a blog post.”

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