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March 9, 2011

SEO for Widgets

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For websites with great content but little online exposure, one way to increase your presence online is to release your content via widgets. Widgets can be an SEO’s best friend. They are great for increasing brand awareness, content partnerships, backlinks and web signals. So if you are able to spare the labor and expense the rewards can be well worth the trouble.

For those who are unsure, widgets are pieces of code that can be embedded on a webpage and perform some kind of functionality. They are handy for webmasters wanting to distribute their own content or for other webmasters looking to publish content they are unable to write themselves.

The key to getting the most SEO benefit out of widgets is to build links into the interface. But when designing a widget there are a few things to keep in mind.

Nowadays widgets can be created with many different technologies. Some are search engine friendly (HTML), some have no SEO benefit (iFrame) and others are somewhere in the middle (Flash, JavaScript). If the widgets are created using HTML, the links should be spidered by search engines and pass as much value as regular links. And most importantly these links are optimized according to how the webmaster wishes, thus ensuring the links are of high value.

Photo by webmove via creative commons

An ideal widget design can potentially be broken into different parts; the header, body and footer.

The header should obviously title the widget and introduce the content, as well as announce the brand providing the content. Here the users are introduced to the brand and search engines are able to index web signals (brand’s association with keywords).

The body contains the content being syndicated and will most likely provide minimal SEO value. This content should be viewed as the trade off for receiving the inbound links. When designing the body it’s important to find that ideal middle ground by providing enough value for the webmaster to want to use the widget while not removing the need for users to visit your website.

After the body content grabs the attention of the user, the footer can provide them with the option to view the original content on your website. A link here will look natural to users (it’s providing more content), provide the keyword rich inbound link and ensure search engines assign the authority, ownership and priority to the original page.

Outside of the layout, the size of the widget should also be optimized. Ensure the size is kept small and does not slow down the hosting page. If the webmaster is trained in SEO they’ll realize a large widget slowing down the page speed is affecting search engines rankings.

So there are a few factors to keep in mind when designing a widget for search engine optimization. If the design is optimum, widgets could do great things for a website’s link profile. They could provide a natural growth of inbound links from a vast array of websites. These are factors that make great contributions to the authority of website and hence it organic rankings in search engines.

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