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Let's say I create a very popular plugin or JavaScript library. If people include it in their site's pages, linking directly to my website where it is hosted (the script itself), does this increase the rank or SEO value of my website due to the increase in "traffic"?

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    No. Traffic is not a ranking factor nor is hotlinking. HTML hyperlinks is what boosts a page's rankings.
    – John Conde
    Sep 10 '15 at 0:48
  • Got it! - so if I wanted to avoid asking for donations, a suitable alternative would be asking to put an actual hyperlink to my site on their page somewhere? Sep 10 '15 at 0:49
  • That would work. :)
    – John Conde
    Sep 10 '15 at 0:52
  • No that would not work, it would kill its SEO unless the link is nofollow. It is not allowed by Google and can lead to penalties... Sep 12 '15 at 20:02
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Hotlinking scripts has no effect on SERP ranking at all. What Google takes into account is organic links and quality of content. In other words to increase the ranking of your page with Google encourage others to link to your site with "quality" pages that are useful and context appropriate and ensure your page is of a high quality as well. You can take a look at Google's information on link schemes but basically any links that are designed to un-naturally manipulate your page rank can be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google's webmaster guidelines. Some examples of bad links are...

  • Buying or selling links that pass pagerank
  • Text advertisements that pass pagerank
  • Low quality directory or bookmark site links
  • keyword rich, hidden ,or low quality links embedded in widgets

What you ask about adding a link to the page through your widget would be classed as a low quality link embedded ion a widget as it does not add any value to the page or the widget in question. If you want to attract users to your site through the widget by all means you can add something like "Powered By XYZ" but the link should have the rel=nofollow tag added to it so as not to violate the webmaster guides.

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