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A Guide to Google’s Nofollow, Sponsored and UGC Rel Attributes in Linking

Nofollow, Sponsored and UGC Rel Attributes

In this post, I am going to tell you about Google’s Nofollow, Sponsored and UGC Rel Attributes in Linking.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has emerged as an important aspect of building a successful brand with wide recognition in the 21st century.

Spiders, robots and bots, like the Googlebot, crawl new and updated web pages to add copies to search engine indexes. A website is a collection of web pages under a web server.

When a query is run on a search engine, web pages are displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs). Web pages are ranked in SERPs based on their relevance to the query, and other factors that make up an algorithm.

Links are used as a significant part of algorithms in determining the authority of a website, and influence its ranking on SERPs. Some years ago, web pages would just rank on Google based on the amount of links they had. And as we can expect, things got spammy. But with Google’s Penguin Update in 2012, Google’s algorithm penalises web pages with links to manipulate rankings.

It is therefore essential to note that links leading to a web page are of high importance. They can either make or mar a website’s reputation in the world of search engine optimization.

An outbound link from a webpage to another is seen as an editorial vote from the linking web page to the other. But since a link could be given for different reasons, Google has rolled out a set of ‘rel attributes’ to cater for different linking cases. A Rel Attribute specifies the relationship between the current and the linked document.

These ‘rel attributes’ endorsed by Google are the Nofollow, Sponsored, and UGC attributes. These attributes are used in the <a> tag, and each of them are explained individually below.

The Nofollow Attribute

In creating an outbound link, the nofollow attribute is used to tell the spider that no editorial vote is to be passed to the linked page. This attribute was the first to be introduced, in 2015. When used, no authority or link juice is passed from the current web page to the linked.

The nofollow attribute looks like this: rel=”nofollow”. And when in use, like this,

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.example.com/">example</a>

In recent times, Google mentioned that the nofollow attribute would serve as a ‘hint,’ rather than as a directive for determining ranks.

The nofollow attribute could be used in a variety of cases where an editor would not endorse the linked page.

The Sponsored Attribute

The rel=”sponsored” is used to identify links that are created as part of an advertisement or paid placement.

It is coded as:

<a rel="sponsored" href="http://www.example.com/">example</a>

According to Google, the nofollow attribute is still a good way to flag sponsored links, although the sponsored attribute is preferred.

The UGC Attribute


Where there is a user generated content, the UGC attribute is recommended. These links are common in comments and forum posts.

The rel=”ugc” is written in a link tag.

<a rel="ugc" href="http://www.example.com/">example</a>.

More?
There could exist a combination of these attributes in a single link tag. This combination could be separated by a space or comma. Therefore, each of the below is acceptable.

<a rel="ugc nofollow" href="http://www.example.com/">example</a>
<a rel="ugc,nofollow" href="http://www.example.com/">example</a>

Conclusion
Using the right rel attribute is important for the safety of both the current and the linked page as far as SEO with Google is concerned.

All links are automatically followed if any of these attributes is specified. Using the wrong kind of attribute may be seen as spamming.

It is important to note that even when a link is marked with the nofollow attribute on a web page, it could still be crawled through other channels. For example, a sitemap or link from other web pages.

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