Google recently sent out a warning to widget developers that they should not include backlinks in their embed code. This used to be a popular practice for generating lots of free backlinks to your website and is still pretty common.
Now we know these links can get both the developer and the website owner into some trouble with Google.
We’ll start with widget links that are making headlines today. These are usually interactive tools or buttons such as maps, embedded resources or media, calculators, countdowns, site security seals, awards, memberships, etc. These widget developers often include a direct link back to their websites specifically for SEO purposes.
Social Media Links & Sharing Buttons
If you have lots of social links, especially in the header of your website. You may be losing page authority by sending link juice to these major social media sites instead of your own content. I always recommend that you manually add the NoFollow tag to your external social links.
There is no real good reason to give credit to these giant websites because they don’t endorse your site.
It may be detrimental to your organic traffic if your Twitter profile starts out-ranking your important pages.
Agency & Partner Links
If you’ve used a web design company, you may see links pointing to their company website in your footer. “Website Design by ABC Company” site-wide links are pretty common and often overlooked when doing SEO.
These site-wide links can have a negative impact by passing link juice to an unrelated business. So, I recommend that these links should be no-followed.
Unrelated External Links
If you’re linking to a page that is not directly related to your content. For example; if you’re writing about branding, but you want to reference Coca Cola, you would want to use a NoFollow tag because it’s not linking to a relevant resource or content.
Sponsored Links & Advertisements
This one is particularly important as it’s clearly defined by Google’s policies to do so. In the past, it was a major problem in that those with deep pockets would game the search engines by buying lots of links to rank quickly.
Thankfully, those days are behind us and today it can actually have the opposite effect by getting you penalized in what’s known as a Manual SEO Penalty action.
The same applies for sponsored blog posts. If someone is paying you or giving you a reward for writing about their product or service you should be sure to NoFollow the links.
Pages You Don’t Want to Take Over Rankings
There are certain pages on your site that may not be a high priority, but they get linked to a lot. If you find yourself seeing your Sign Up or Register or other specialized pages showing up in search rankings in place of higher quality content then consider adding a NoFollow tag to these links.
To conclude, you should be selective about the internal and external links you do allow to pass through without a NoFollow tag. If it isn’t an absolutely important piece of quality content that’s related to your website or business, then think twice before giving it the all important endorsement of a backlink.