In the latest Webmaster Help Channel video, Matt Cutts tells marketers it's unwise to use embedded code to generate backlinks.

Marketers must be careful when linking to company websites in embedded code for things like infographic content and widgets, according to Google’s Search Engineer Matt Cutts. In the latest Webmaster Help Channel video, Cutts advises site owners against including links to branded content or third-party sites when featuring embeddable code. This message suggests the search engine is scrutinizing domains’ link practices to keep the internet organic and spam-free.

“My answer to this is colored by the fact that we’ve seen a ton of people trying to abuse widgets and abuse infographics,” Cutts explains.

As a member of the Webspam team, Cutts suggests SEOs play it safe and no-follow links if there is any question about whether they could be seen as deceptive. To demonstrate how this practice can be considered spammy, he provides an example of a web counter containing multiple mesothelioma links.

“I would not rely on widgets and infographics as your primary way to gather links … and I would recommend putting a no-follow, especially on widgets,” he states.

It’s important to note there is inherent value in creating infographics and widgets to share with followers. These content types can enhance user experience by adding visual context and helpful functions. Webmasters can even build in SEO value by creating landing pages for infographics and blog content about fresh collateral. The underlying message here is that marketers cannot use these formats to mask black hat link building practices – specifically, hiding links within the embedded code.

Although Cutts has said marketers should focus less on link building and more on custom content creation, this update indicates link schemes are still very much so on Google’s radar. Marketers must stay vigilant to avoid bad linking practices and keep their web content at the top of SERPs.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.