Matt Cutts' latest Webmaster Help video discussed the value, or lack thereof, gained from inbound links included in widgets on the web.

In a recent Webmaster Help video, Google’s Matt Cutts said links from article marketing, widgets and other pre-curated content types are unlikely to drive search rankings or visibility. While these were the only specific formats discussed, his comments speak to the value of winning organic inbound links through editorial content.

Marketers often place widgets throughout their sites to direct users to relevant content from across the web. These are often strong additions and help improve social presence and visibility for content. However, Cutts said, the included links aren’t likely to give a site much of a lift.

“You’ll see a lot of links with the exact same anchor text because that’s what the widget happened to have embedded in it,” Cutts said. “Even if it’s not the same anchor text, it’s relatively inorganic in the sense that the person who made the widget is deciding what the anchor text should be rather than the person who’s actually doing the link by including the widget.”

“You’ll see a lot of links with the exact same anchor text because that’s what the widget happened to have embedded in it. Even if it’s not the same anchor text, it’s relatively inorganic in the sense that the person who made the widget is deciding what the anchor text should be rather than the person … including the widget.” – Matt Cutts

This isn’t an issue of spam, which typically accounts for links’ disclusion from a site’s search ranking. It’s more that including a widget doesn’t necessarily suggest a webmaster or marketer has endorsed a piece of content. On the other hand, Google’s reasoning for discounting these links is similar to its logic for ignoring links from low-quality article marketing sites.

“It’s the same sort of thing with article marketing,” he said. “If you write a relatively low-quality article … and at the bottom are two or three links of specifically high keyword-density anchor text, then the sort of guy who just wants some content and doesn’t care about the quality might grab that article from an article bank. And he’s not necessarily editorially choosing to give that anchor text.”

Widgets from social networks, popular news outlets and other sources often direct site visitors to other relevant content. Still, they aren’t likely to drive search ranking for either party.

Inbound links and their value for SEO are a hot topic at the moment. Brafton recently highlighted the latest Google Penguin update, which took aim at paid links and other inorganic link building strategies. Additionally, Cutts announced the availability of Google’s disavow links tool, which may help sites hit by Penguin gradually rebuild their search presences.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.