How Big SEO Changes rel=nofollow, rel=sponsored, rel=ugc Links Impact SEO?

Learn about Google's Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links Impact SEO and what to Do About It?

The SEO world was thrown for a loop when Google announced major changes to how Nofollow links should be marked. While the modifications were useful in terms of helping Google comprehend the web, they also generated some uncertainty and sparked a lot of questions.

The importance of links in SEO cannot be overstated. Without trusted links Google, Bing, Yandex and other major search engines may not crawl your pages or consider they are unimportant. However, there are occasions when you may want Google to ignore the link.

Alternatively, you might inform search engines that a particular URL is sponsored or has been added to your page by a visitor or user.

How Big SEO Changes rel=nofollow, rel=sponsored, rel=ugc Links Impact SEO?

What will happen with that? And how do you put this into action on your website? Find out everything you need to know about sponsored, nofollow, and ugc links right here!

Google made three significant announcements starting on March 1, 2020. And Google already supports all attributes. They have radically altered the SEO practice. They are as follows:

  • The rel=”nofollow” attribute Google search engine will see as a suggestion rather than a strong signal.
  • The rel=”sponsored” link attribute is a new one that highlights sponsored and affiliate links.
  • The rel=”usg” link attribute is a new link attribute that is used to emphasize links in user-generated content.

Sure, this is surprising!

Let's take a closer look at what this means for SEO and the World wide web. So keep reading!

Search Engine Optimization and Links

Search engines can be counted as a 'vote' to your linked pages by connecting to another website. As a result, pages with a large number of such ‘votes' from authoritative and reliable websites may rank higher in the search results. Because they in turn will become more trustworthy by search engines. For this reason, now links become a tradeable commodity.

That's why a smart SEO plan should always examine how your content marketing and PAGE RANK efforts will persuade other trusted websites to link to you.

However, what if, without a vote for the page, you want to link to it? And what prevents other webmasters from finding ways of cheating the system like posting links on your website, forums, social media profiles or forms for comment?

In these cases, a specific type of link needs to be used to tell the search engines not to rely on it.

The nofollow Attribute

"Nofollow" is an attribute that says "Don't follow this particular link" to Google. Through such links, PageRank was not transmitted.

Once you added other’s website URL in your blog post and wanted Google to ignore that link, you should use rel="nofollow" attribute.

The most common use of rel="nofollow" is:

  • By large publishers who did not want to consider every single outgoing link in large numbers (handy but arguable).
  • By sites with links that are sponsored.
  • Webmasters, anxious or unwilling to share their PageRank with other websites.

The Sponsored Attribute

The ‘sponsored’ attribute is being used to classify links that are expressly the product of a paid placement. Such as sponsored placements, advertorials, and paid links.

According to Google, the sponsored attribute should be used on any advertisement or link that is paid for in some form. The reason behind this, Google considers links to a page to be an endorsement. And when you add a link to an article as a useful resource you want to share it with your users. When you are paid to put a link to another website on your website, your motive is different search engines examine that particular URL.

However, it is possible that you wouldn't link to it if you weren't compensated. Google can tell the difference between these "unnatural links" and regular links because of adding the sponsored property.
We recommend adding the ‘nofollow’ tag to this type of link as well because many other search engines don't recognize this sponsored attribute yet.

rel="sponsored" is a brand-new attribute for links that are in any manner sponsored.
This attribute is applicable to the following purposes:

  • Links that have been sponsored
  • Advertisements with affiliate links
  • Direct Ads
Therefore, if you add any URL in exchange for money, you can use this property for them.

The UGC Attribute

The 'ugc' attribute should be used to isolate user-generated URLs. When users of your website freely produce content or leave active links on it, such as on the website or blog’s comment section, you should utilize the 'ugc' property.

If you're using WordPress, you won't have to worry about this property because WordPress automatically applies an ugc attribute and a nofollow attribute. And Blogger platform users need to use manually in their theme.

For example,

the author links in a comment form that aren't inherently trusted or endorsed by the page's publisher.
rel="UGC" user Generated Content (UGC) refers to content submitted by users.

The following are some common examples:

  • Comments on a blog (example: comments to this post)
  • Sites and forums dedicated to Question and Answers (for example Quora, Google Webmaster Forum and other QandA websites).
  • Platforms for blogging (Blogger, Medium etc.)

Combination of the Attributes

Yes, you may use several rel values on a single link. Although each of these properties describes a particular type of link, many rel attributes can be used in a single link. A sponsored and nofollow attribute, for example, can coexist in the same link:

Example link:

<a href="" rel="nofollow sponsored">example link</a>

The main reason behind using 2 attributes together, not all search engines accept the two new rel elements. So using the nofollow attribute in combination with the sponsored or ugc attributes is recommended.

Another example,

rel="ugc sponsored" is a totally legitimate property that indicates that the link is sponsored and originates from user-generated content.

You can use nofollow with the new attributes, such as rel="nofollow ugc" to be backwards-compatible with services that don't support the new characteristics.

Example link:

<a href="" rel="nofollow ugc">example link</a>

Final Thought

While there is no convincing reason to do so, every SEO must make their own judgment.

Having said that, it shouldn't hurt to make the switch as long as you mark paid links appropriately with "nofollow" or "sponsored". For example, The BloggerSpice Blog may alter the comment links rel="nofollow" to rel="ugc" or, more likely, rel="nofollow ugc" in the future.

Finally, if you use the "sponsored" attribute, putting paid links then your blog will become safer and not going to get any Google penalty.

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