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Link Development Forum

Including backlinks on plugins - still a good idea?

 11:27 am on Mar 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I made a few plugins for Wordpress years ago which still get a couple of installs every week, and i included a link back to my site in it. (it's prefectly legit, and the plugin user is made well aware of it.) a few years ago i think this was a good way of getting backlinks.

but im wondering whether it's time to remove the backlink from the plugin, in case its hurting me. the link text only has about 5 different variations, and obviously they would be sitewide, because the user installs it in their blog's sidebar.

i haven't noiticed any penalties or drop in rankings, by the way, so google doesn't seem to be punishing me for them (yet).

but is getting backlinks like this something that you would still risk doing?



 5:35 am on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's an interesting question, and I don't personally know. Having said that I'm seeing folks busily distributing plugins with backlinks supplied.

Perhaps a better tactic would be to continue distribution of it, but use the enablement as a "tool" to liftthe phone and speak to the website owners about adding some complementary content that you or they could write, with more "natural" links contained within it.

If you're worried about content in say Wordpress blogs losing it's PR, you could even provide the opportunity for you partners to link internally to those blogs and/or apply something into the code for you to adjust those "relevant" links in the code remotely.

I wouldn't stop the success you've had, just ramp up the natural part of it. It would be good to hear from others in this space to see what they have done.


 4:50 pm on Apr 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

The following 2 messages were cut out to new thread by martinibuster. New thread at: link_development/4443072.htm [webmasterworld.com]
9:06 am on Apr 19, 2012 (utc -8)


 5:07 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. The plugin (IMHO) is no different than any web designer putting "Designed by X" on a website he designs.

[edited by: bakedjake at 5:21 pm (utc) on Apr 19, 2012]


 5:17 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

and the plugin (IMHO) is no different than any web designer putting "Designed by X" on a website he designs.

I agree, 100%. But I don't think it's a positive affirmation for plug-in links. Here is why:

The "Designed by X" link has been under attack by Google since around 2003 or 2004. Manifested by a diminution of PageRank flowing (visible in the toolbar) and by various schemes for depreciating the value of the link based on relevance between the two sites as well as the location of the link. The motivation for the depreciation of a "designed by" links is foremost one of relevance. A site about a school for autistic children has zero relevance as a topic to a web design portfolio site. Throw in the second test for whether it's editorially given and you have two valid reasons why Google depreciates "Designed by" links.

So while I agree that the plug-in links are no different than "designed-by" links, this also implies they're possibly at risk for a similar depreciation in PageRank flow.


 5:20 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't disagree at all mb.

OP asked if it was harmful, I don't think it is. I still see the tactic working today. I seriously doubt it will ever be harmful in the future - at worst, just ineffective.


 2:54 pm on Apr 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't bother putting in a targeted anchor text as the link, but just your sites name.


 6:29 pm on May 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Years ago in one of the forums, I had a debate with people about the value and ethics of designers stamping their Designed/Developed by all over their clients' sites. I'm still very against clients subsidizing advertising for service providers. It's an ethical issue for me. I'm glad that Google is following on that form of link abuse once and for all.

I would say, if your app is a freeware, then, yes use the footer link. But if a client paid for a service app and unless you offered them a discount to have link on their site, basically paying them for the advertising space, remove the offending links.


 12:29 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

i haven't noiticed any penalties or drop in rankings, by the way, so google doesn't seem to be punishing me for them (yet).

@londrum - how did you sail through the Penguin update?


 5:59 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looks like my previous post was prescient of the Penguin update:

Throw in the second test for whether it's editorially given and you have two valid reasons why Google depreciates "Designed by" links.

The test of whether a link is editorially given is one of most important ones, always has been. Which is why I brought it up. I didn't need Penguin to remind me. It's just a basic rule of thumb that has been consistent for a long time. Don't know what happened to the OP, could be he's fine. But the difference between the link building situation previously and post Penguin is that some web publishers are getting penalized for not passing the editorial test rather than simply having the links depreciated.


 6:07 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

In lieu of this update.

Bad Idea.


 8:37 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

did you sail through the Penguin update?

yup, it seems so. i haven't experienced any noticeable change either way.

i did end up removing the backlinks, by the way. not because i got a penalty, but because im paranoid about getting one


 8:42 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

good choice :)


 8:45 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

i did end up removing the backlinks

Good choice, indeed. And in the nick of time.


 9:00 am on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

i still think its bang out of order though. we put work into that plugin, and get absolutely nothing back now. not even a piddly little backlink.

if google gets it into webmasters' heads that backlinks like this are bad, then i can see a time when hardly any people make free plugins and templates anymore, because there's no reward for them.


 3:29 pm on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why can't you just no-follow it and soak up the traffic? How about put a larger ad on it and build mindshare with it? Having the right people know about your site is very important. Ranking is not the only benefit for links. Some of my link building doesn't even have a hyperlink component.


 6:05 am on May 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

What if the links are on sites with some relevance to your own? Could the links help if they are relevant?


 1:06 pm on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'd say, change the link everyday, vary the anchor text or no anchor text at all to avoid Penguin...put citations with no links on some versions.

On some versions put nothing at all...

Sucks but it's Penguin for now...

Be careful,inbound links CAN and WILL hurt you. You don't need negative SEO to do it to you, you can do it to yourself innocently!

Google is not fair. Period.


 1:11 pm on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

And yes, developers will stop making stuff for free.

Open source online will be in trouble thanks to Googlomonopoly.

As someone said earlier on this post 3-6 years more, then links won't matter.

I sure am not going to develop something for link juice that doesn't even work anymore.


 3:07 am on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

How exactly are you getting away with links in your plugin is what interests me? On the wordpress plugin submission site they clearly state that plugins can't have links in them.


 8:37 am on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

i didnt even know that to be honest. but the plugin is years old, maybe they have changed the rules.
it doesnt have links now anyway.

seems like a bit of a dumb rule when you are trying to get people to make plugins for free. it must put a lot of people off writing them


 12:18 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

My read of Matt C's comments, in various settings, is that the search quality team has gotten its collective mind around the need to discern links deserving of a penalty from links underserving of a search ranking boost.

At worst I suspect your links fall into the latter category.

An even more evolved algo might give your site, IF relevant to the plugin in some way other than "just the creator", a little boost for contributing something of value to the Web's ecosystem. Of course, evolution takes time. ;)


 12:41 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

would you trust google to be able to tell the difference?

these plugin backlinks generally result in a sitewide link in the blog sidebar. or a sitewide link somewhere on the template... on hundreds of different blogs.

one thing that i have noticed from looking through my logs, is that the plugin ends up on a lot of spammy auto-blogs, which are just looking for content. there's not much you can do about that, because once you've uploaded it to the wordpress directory you have given up some of your control. anyone can download and install it.

and of course its those spammy auto-blog things that are the most difficult to contact, to get the plugin removed.

it wouldn't matter if there's no backlink on it, and no mention of your site, but then what's the point of creating it?

the more i think about it, the more i'm put off doing wordpress plugins.


 1:05 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

the more i think about it, the more i'm put off doing wordpress plugins

Which is probably sound justification for NOT attaching a penalty to "plugin credit links" - i.e., the plugin author lacks utilization control AND Google may not wish to crap up the developer ecosystem of the Web's most popular content management system by effectively penalizing plugin creators.

It' comes as no surprise to me that a search for "Wordpress SEO" brings up, as a top result, the website of a developer of some popular WP plugins - even though many others speak to the issue of WP SEO.

I can imagine scenarios other than WP specific ranking issues where helpful industry specific plugins might lend an advantage - in topically relevant queries beyond just plugin queries - for the plugin developer.

Of course, in most cases, it likely takes effort beyond simply producing a plugin to gain all the possible advantages of plugin creation. However, plugin creation - as part of a larger marketing/profile building (as an industry expert, etc) strategy certainly has the potential to lend weight to your expertise/"authority in the industry", your standing "as an author", your "inbound value votes", etc.

Plugin development, woven into a larger strategy of topical authority building, probably works FAR better than plugin building simply for the sake of link aggregation. The multiplier effects of plugin development likely come from the fact that many "talk about how to do X" whilst the plugin developer directly helps you to "do X", does it for you, etc. Lots of love for that type of work in a world looking for more with less or struggling with limited ability, limited resources, etc.

[edited by: Webwork at 1:45 pm (utc) on May 7, 2012]


 1:13 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

the more i think about it, the more i'm put off doing wordpress plugins.

Google does give out free platofrms for people to use but it does get back a lot from them, without many knowing about how they benefit. There is no free lunch. So I do understand how you feel now.

I do remember days when Google and M.Cutts were fine with these links but their rules change with time. Some people use these to build their personal brand rather than building linkbacks and that approach is more effective and useful these days. I am sure Google is absolutely fine with it now but rules might change after a couple of years from now.

The plugin or theme backlink is something that wouldn't hurt as long as it isn't a targeted anchor text but just a site name. But these links might not be helping you as they used to earlier.


 2:09 pm on May 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Open source online will be in trouble thanks to Googlomonopoly.

We are not talking about open source, but things like free to use with credit link themes which are not open source (at best they use something like a CC attribution license - nothing wrong with that per se).

Could my loss of rank since Jan be due to devaluation of links from my WP themes? Not something I do now, but I was did it before people started doing things like sponsored themes.

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