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I built a service that lets build a map of their trip, then embed this trip on their blog with a widget. The widget links back to my site with the anchor text "map your own trip here". The widget uses javascript because iFrame cannot be crawled.

At first, I thought this was a good idea because I am trying to rank for the phrase "map a trip". But I read many places that exact match anchor text will actually get you penalized by Google. However, this seems like a legitimate use of anchor text as the phrase is both descriptive and being used with unique page content each time.

What is the best practice here? Do I vary up the anchor text using some algorithm (i.e. have 10 versions of it)? Do I just link to my site via my domain name, and not a keyword phrase? Am I fine to keep the anchor text as it?

  • It is fine to use branded anchor text with widgets. Changing the link to be Mapped with <a href="http://example.com/">My Brand</a> is acceptable to Google. – Stephen Ostermiller Sep 9 '16 at 15:40
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    Google just posted no their blog with guidance on links and anchor text with widgets: A reminder about widget links – Stephen Ostermiller Sep 9 '16 at 15:42
  • @StephenOstermiller Do you have a reference regarding dofollow "branded anchor text with widgets" being OK? – MrWhite Sep 9 '16 at 16:35
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    Yes, that's the thing, all Google references I've seen (including the linked Google Hangout below with John Mueller) suggest that all outgoing widget links should be nofollow (one reason being is that it's like a "link exchange" that the webmaster has no control over). There doesn't appear to be any distinction regarding "branded" links. However, on the linked Google blog article there is a "Feedburner" widget that appears to contain a dofollow backlink to itself, and this has been pointed out in comments, with a reply stating "it's not a manipulated anchor text, it's branded"... – MrWhite Sep 9 '16 at 18:04
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    ...so the idea that "branded" backlinks are OK is certainly evident in the community, although an official reference would be good. IMHO a branded backlink is most likely going to be seen as low quality and whilst it might not see a penalty(?), it is unlikely to help ranking - as if it was "nofollow" anyway? – MrWhite Sep 9 '16 at 18:09
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+100

My answer doesn't directly answer your question but states why you should not be doing this.

Google considers these as low quality links and may penalize you for them. Having these links will not only not help your SEO efforts, but may hinder them. Your best SEO move might be to not do this at all.

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    Whoa, thank you for the very up-to-date article. This definitely answers my question, though unfortunately not the answer we were hoping for! The article mentions spammy links, so I did some additional research hoping mine was a legitimate dofollow link. Turns out Google recommends using rel="nofollow" on ALL widgets. You can see a good Q&A with google staff here: youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OPKFSvAr5yY – CHawk Sep 9 '16 at 15:14
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    The relevant part talking about backlinks in widgets, in the above linked Google Hangout, would seem to start at 5:42. – MrWhite Sep 9 '16 at 16:50
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    Yeah, I'd recommend using nofollow for all these widget links. – John Mueller Sep 13 '16 at 18:57

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