How Google's Rel = Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links Impact SEO

Link attributes have been a major ranking factor almost since the beginning of the development of search engine algorithms. Search engines evaluate the quality of a project and decide whether it is worth being ranked high, particularly for its link profile.

How Google's Rel = Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links Impact SEO in 2021

As of 2023, backlinks are still among the most significant ranking factors. Google is constantly working to improve its algorithms, but backlinks from quality dofollow sites help gain traffic even in the most competitive niches. 

It is believed that the more diverse the site link profile is, the lower the probability of penalties. Webmasters use different attributes to ensure the authenticity of the site’s link mass and show search engines that it deserves high positions. 

1. How Google’s Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links Have Been Impacting SEO

There are several basic approaches to working with backlinks in SEO. Specialists buy dofollow links on exchanges, use nofollow backlinks from forums, social media, and other sites without worrying that many of them are blocked by redirects.

Some webmasters actively use no-link references. Google recognizes such brand references ­ if their number keeps increasing, the project gains traffic in a given niche.

Now, in addition to the nofollow attribute, there are several other attributes intended to mark certain link types. In most cases, optimizers continue to use nofollow, but the number of new attributes is on the rise.

Google recommends adding a correct attribute to each link and not manipulating the algorithms, which are constantly improving and can recognize intentional cheating. 

If third-party projects referred to in an article are nofollow in 100% of cases, this means that the platform owner does not trust the sites, which seems weird to search engines. It is necessary to not only protect link value from passing but also refer to external resources without nofollow. 

1.1. 2005: First Introduction of the Nofollow Atribute

In 2005, Google announced the nofollow link attribute as a tool to deal with spam comments. An article on the search engine’s official blog stated that "From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won’t get any credit when we rank websites in our search results."

Nofollow has become a major tool for webmasters struggling to save link value. Links that did not convey value and prevented crawlers from following them were used for all references to external resources that a site owner deemed unsafe. 

Nofollow evolved from being a method of dealing with spammers to one of the most common tools used by optimizers to tag all undesirable links. Many webmasters used the noindex nofollow meta tag to automatically hide all links on technical pages from crawlers, but in most cases, only a link attribute was used.

Optimizers used nofollow until 2009 to keep link value focused on important pages and not dilute it. In 2009, Google changed its approach to calculating link value, and the No Follow attribute became useless for internal linking. 

1.2. 2019: Evolution of the Nofollow into Two New Link Attributes

Gradually, Google came to the conclusion that one link attribute was not enough, and in September 2019, it announced two new attributes on the official blog. Sponsored and ugc appeared, which are now used to mark certain link types. 

The meaning of nofollow has not changed; there are simply two more tools for optimizers now. It is possible not to use nofollow in all cases but apply the right attributes for specific tasks: sponsored ­ for paid links, and ugc ­ for comments and other sections with user-generated content.

Nofollow has remained the most popular link attribute, but since September 2019, optimizers have started using it in combination with the two new rel values of the <a> tag. For example, if you use rel nofollow noindex, you can also add sponsored and ugc.

Utilizing noindex in the source code of a link is not useful for SEO, but marking sponsored or user posts helps search engine algorithms to better understand the nature of the links. However, chances are that neural networks have already accumulated enough data to recognize different types of backlinks independently. 

1.3. 2019: Using Those Three Attributes as a "Hint" for Ranking

When the nofollow attribute was added by Google, it was used to prevent crawlers from clicking on links and minimize the impact on ranking. After March 2020, the situation changed ­ all link attributes began to be considered as “hints.” The "Link will not be considered in ranking" rule turned into "May affect ranking." 

Google still recommends using nofollow for resources that optimizers don’t trust, and placing sponsored and ugc along with it. A sponsored link can be nofollow, but it’s no longer a "black mark." 

Many webmasters don’t understand what "processing as a hint" means. They previously used nofollow to prevent a crawler from clicking on the link and prohibit link value passing. Now, the No Follow signal is not a directive but a hint. Crawlers can either take it into account or ignore it, depending on the situation. 

1.4. 2020: Using as a "Hint" for Crawling and Indexing

The use of rel nofollow to reclassify a link as unindexed was never effective, although many webmasters believed that the rel attribute would prevent crawlers from following the link and indexing the page. Google always recommended using nofollow to refer to sites that an optimizer does not trust.

To prevent crawling and indexing, Google recommends using appropriate values in the robots meta tag or robots.txt file. The latter method is not reliable now because crawlers can ignore regulations from the technical file if they believe that content can be useful to users. 

Many SEO specialists use nofollow on sites with a large number of pages to save crawling budgets. And while this tactic could be beneficial before 2020, the No Follow signal is now a hint, and crawlers’ behavior may be different in each case.

2. Why Did Google Make This Change?

The nofollow attribute was created to deal with spam comments and highlight links to untrusted resources. Many webmasters used it incorrectly. For example, they were referring to Wikipedia and other authoritative resources and "prohibited" crawlers from following links.

In the official announcement of the two new link attributes, Google noted that since 2005, the Internet has changed a lot, and nofollow must change as well. It hasn’t always been used as intended, and new attributes will help search engine algorithms better understand the nature of certain links. 

Using nofollow as a hint provides complete freedom for Google. Webmasters can no longer be 100% sure that a link attribute will prevent them from clicking on links or passing rankings to a third-party resource. 

Google uses nofollow, sponsored, and ugc as hints. They help algorithms better understand why an optimizer used the No Follow signal in a particular case or marked a link as user or sponsored. 

Many large sites use nofollow for large numbers of external links to protect against penalties and save the value of landing pages. Perhaps, this factor also affected Google’s decision to add two new link attributes. 

3. Do Publishers and Webmaster Need to Make Changes

In their article about the introduction of ugc and sponsored attributes, Google mentioned that it’s not necessary to change existing link attributes. For example, if a site has 10,000 nofollow links, including user and sponsored ones, it’s quite difficult to update the attributes for them in source codes.

If an optimizer uses the nofollow attribute in the link code to block sponsored links or send a signal to crawlers that the page is untrustworthy, this still works. There is no need to change the links that are already on the site.

However, it is better to mark new backlinks immediately according to the recommended scheme, although there is no obvious benefit to doing this. But these attributes help algorithms better understand the mechanisms behind adding links. 

If an optimizer wants to help Google, or believes that a site uses the wrong link markup scheme, one can change it. For example, if it is possible to leave active backlinks in comments on a site or users can post articles, it’s better to block the links from them using ugc by default and adding nofollow for reliability. 

Keep in mind that Google may change its approach to attributes over time, but this is unlikely. Nofollow may be interpreted differently, but the purpose of using sponsored and ugc is clearly described, and no approach diverging from the official description can be applied to them. 

4. Is There Chance to Be Penalized for Not Marking Properly Paid Links

When Google introduced new link attributes, many webmasters assumed that dofollow links were affected. And now, when buying backlinks on exchanges or directly, optimizers are trying to negotiate that the source code does not contain nofollow, sponsored, or UGC.

The fears of SEO specialists are understandable ­ Google has confirmed that links with nofollow, sponsored, and ugc may affect rankings starting March 2020. Even if you add ugc to comments and other sections where users can post content, the search algorithms may take them into account. 

Optimizers have a lot of questions about the sponsored attribute, which became the main marker of a corrupt website. In theory, all links on a site that are paid for but not added to enhance the informational value of an article should be marked with an appropriate attribute. 

The main problem is that Google has a negative attitude towards paid links and backlink exchange schemes in general. If an optimizer shows that there are 1,000 sponsored links on a site or pretends that they are free nofollow links, penalties for manipulating the algorithms may follow. 

Therefore, each site owner decides whether to add link attributes or not. Google recommends marking paid links, but this may affect the ranking of a site in organic search results. On the other hand, algorithms understand the nature of links and can mark them as paid. 

5. Understanding Link Attributes from SEO Aspects

Although nofollow is no longer as powerful as it was before March 2020, it remains the most popular link attribute. There are plenty of examples of nofollow links on any site. In most cases, optimizers combine attributes for maximum effect.

In the help section of Google Search Central there are recommendations about when and how to use nofollow, sponsored, and ugc. The article also describes cases where you can combine attributes. Note that it says, "Links marked with these rel attributes will generally not be followed."

If you open several large sites and analyze their approaches to linking, you can see that they are different. For example, many projects that focus on user-generated content actively use ugc for link markup in the comment and blog posts.

5.1. Why Do We Need to Use Link Attributes

Google does not require site owners to use the link attributes described in the Help for developers. They do it if they feel the need to add ugc for user links or sponsored for sponsored ones. 

There is no specific information on how algorithms process links. For example, if a site does not hide paid links and marks them with a special marker, this may be considered when ranking in organic search results. 

Most optimizers have concerns about the sponsored link attribute because, theoretically, it can result in penalties for placing paid links. No one can guarantee that the demonstration of an affiliate relationship with advertisers will be beneficial for organic search results. 

At the same time, even if you do not mark sponsored links, you may still be subject to penalties. Therefore, rel nofollow and ugc are predictable and safe attributes. And the use of sponsored depends on the project development priorities.  

5.2. Types of Link Attributes

In addition to nofollow, sponsored, and UGC, webmasters still use noopener and noreferrer attributes. Fewer issues may arise when using them since Google representatives have repeatedly indicated the algorithms’ attitude towards the rel attribute values in the <a> tag, and all optimizers are well aware of the rel nofollow meaning. 

If there are no sponsored or paid links on a site, the problem with the setting of correct attributes is irrelevant. Backlinks that users added in their comments or guest articles need to be marked with ugc, and nofollow should be used additionally for reliability. 

The ratio of nofollow to other link attributes that can be used in ranking depends on a site’s link strategy. Some optimizers concern that if 100% of backlinks are nofollow, the project could be penalized.

Over time, the number of link attributes may increase as the Internet does not stand still, and algorithms that determine the quality of content and the optimal positions of pages in organic search results are developing along with it. 

6. What Is the Ranking Impact of Link Attributes

Google warned webmasters that after March 2020, nofollow, sponsored, and ugc link attributes can affect rankings. Even if there is nofollow in the source code, the link can still be valuable. 

Optimizers have long speculated about what nofollow means for search engine algorithms. One assumption was that the attribute does not prevent a link from being followed, and it may be considered during ranking even if it does not appear in the Google Search Console. 

Representatives of the search engine do not specify whether link attributes have priority. It is only known that nofollow, ugc, and sponsored can be factored into the ranking. Most likely, dofollow links still have priority, the same way they did 15 years ago. 

6.1. Nofollow

For years, webmasters thought that adding a nofollow attribute to a link’s source code was enough not to worry about losing link value. Since March 2020, it is not only perceived as a hint but can also be used as a signal during ranking. 

Speculation that nofollow works in a different way than is commonly believed has been around for a long time. This assumption was confirmed officially only after the introduction of ugc and sponsored. It became clear that Google algorithms make an individual decision depending on the data obtained.

6.2. Sponsored

The sponsored attribute is related to advertising or paid materials. When a company makes a guest post on a site, a special marker indicating the nature of links should be used for it. This is how Google suggests webmasters act. 

There is no official information on how exactly sponsored affects ranking. For example, many SEO bloggers do not hesitate to use the attribute to mark sponsored posts. However, there are no studies determining the correlation between positions and the number of sponsored or paid links.

6.3. What Is UGC?

If it is impossible to add active links in the comments on a site, and there are no other categories where users can publish content, ugc is irrelevant. If it is not forbidden to add links in comments, you should use ugc and add rel nofollow for Google.

Checking the quality of every resource that users refer to in comments is difficult, especially if hundreds of comments are posted on a site every day. It is better to set up automatic markup of links in comments and other sections with user-generated content by combining nofollow and ugc. In some CMSs, ugc is automatically added to comments, but special plugins can also be used for this task.

6.4. Noopener

This attribute is used to safely open a link in a new browser window. It is a more secure alternative to the target="_blank" attribute, which was actively used on the Internet before a serious vulnerability was detected. 

Noopener doesn’t affect ranking, and it is used for technical tasks. Therefore, you don’t need to worry that the site’s position might suffer if 100% of backlinks are opened in a new browser tab.

6.5. Noreferrer

Noreferrer is often used in combination with noopener to securely open a page in a new browser tab. The technical task of the attribute is to hide the source of the link. When users click on a link, the owner of a third-party site does not see the platform from which the conversion was made.

The combination of nofollow noreferrer can be found in source codes of many sites. It is used because the No Follow signal is common to optimizers, and noreferrer + noopener are applied by default to all links opened in a new browser tab. 

7. Natural vs. Unnatural Outbound Links

Since the advent of search engines, Google has paid a lot of attention to link attributes. Even novice webmasters know that algorithms take into account the quality of individual backlinks and links in general when ranking positions in organic search results.

Representatives of the search engine have repeatedly noted that the primary goal to create automated systems to prevent the manipulation of ranking algorithms. Google is aware of the fact that optimizers can cheat, and it imposes restrictions on projects that show suspicious activity. 

Google’s help section for webmasters says that "links increase the likelihood that a site will be detected by our crawlers and appear in search results more often." And the algorithms know how to distinguish natural links from unnatural ones. 

They take into account not only the attribute value when analyzing backlinks. The decision to label a backlink as unnatural is based on a large number of factors. So, some webmasters mistakenly believe that algorithms are not smart enough, and they use classic linking tactics. 

No matter what link attributes have been used, search engines will still analyze a backlink, even if you send them a "no follow" signal via <a href="" rel="nofollow">. This process is ongoing, and the analysis becomes more advanced over time.

Natural links appear on external sites without the involvement of a webmaster. This is common for sites with quality content ­ everyone relies on additional sources when writing articles. Links to authoritative platforms increase trust to a site and individual pages.

The main markers of natural links:

  1. "Safe" anchor. Search engines treat anchors with keys in a special way. Attention to them is increased. 
  2. Subject correlation. If a project on growing cucumbers adds an external link to an online store selling car parts, it looks suspicious. 
  3. Combination with other links. One resource can be mentioned in the main content, and if there are several references, doubts about the reasons for placing backlinks might not arise. 
  4. Relevance to the text. If a link is inserted as part of a guest post, it should be organically integrated with the rest of the content.
  5. Date match. The promoted page often appears in search later than the landing page with a backlink to it. This is a red flag for Google. 
  6. Link traffic. There are often disputes about this marker in the professional community, but if a backlink is on a landing page, it must bring traffic.

The main rule for creating a natural link profile is to take different approaches to adding links. Backlinks with rel nofollow also bring results, just like dofollow, redirect, and mentions without a link.  

7.1. Unnatural Links

Unnatural links for search engines are publications that look suspicious. They appear not because the site owner has decided to refer to an authoritative source but because backlinks were paid for or an optimizer negotiated a barter with a webmaster.

Building a link profile in 2023 is still a priority when promoting informational and commercial projects, but it is necessary to be extremely cautious.

At one of the video meetings, John Mueller, senior webmaster trends analyst, answered a question about whether SEO links help improve a site’s ranking .

"This is something where we also see that a lot of sites do things that aren’t really necessary for their website and web search. They’ll go off and buy a ton of links and then we ignore all of those links.

So just because you’re seeing people doing something that looks kind of weird doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually profiting from that in a sense that there are lots of reasons why sites can rank in the search results. And it doesn’t always mean that they’re up to something sneaky"

Google has long been aware of link schemes , but that doesn’t mean link building should be removed from the task list. With the right approach, backlinks from trusted projects can help boost link value and improve a project’s traffic in its niche. 

The nofollow meta tag does not always protect from the attention of search engine algorithms; therefore, you should not expect to work calmly using only this tool. Maximum profile diversity helps to defend against penalties for the use of SEO links. 

If you visit any link exchange and look at examples of links, it becomes clear that most sites jeopardize the promoted projects. They consist entirely of spam content, use a single page for several advertisers, do not take into account the recipient theme, and make other mistakes. 

Some webmasters intentionally refuse to use dofollow links to prevent penalties, but that is not enough. Attributes are not the only parameter that algorithms use to determine the unnaturalness of links. 

The main markers of SEO links:

  1. Absence of publication on the home page. Usually, sites designed for the sale of links post announcements on the home page for an additional fee. And not all optimizers are willing to spend more money.
  2. Link with exact keyword match. Backlink anchor "buy a bike in NY cheap" will not go unnoticed by algorithms. 
  3. No correlation with the subject. If the link is properly integrated into content, this marker becomes irrelevant. 
  4. A large number of outbound links. To be considered credible, the site should have more inbound than outbound links. 
  5. Cross-linking. This still helps boost recipient link value, but the chances of a donor getting a restriction are very high. 

In a perfect world, links should be only natural, but in practice, this is not the case. For example, links to an online store selling gaming consoles rarely appear by themselves. You can generate an increase in references with content marketing, but the effect of a link explosion will quickly fade. 

If you are promoting several sites and doubt whether to add links for crawlers or not, it is better to protect links from indexing via rel nofollow. This applies to all outbound links that may seem unnatural to a crawler. 

Another option is to automatically add the <a> tag for all external links without any manual intervention. Plugins for CMS and self-written scripts can help solve this problem. There are many ready-made solutions for WordPress and other engines.

7.2. Buying or Selling Links

Many webmasters think that the rate of buying backlinks has been decreasing in recent years, but the process has simply moved to another level. Link exchanges are still operating, but many optimizers prefer to work directly or delegate the task to contractors who have their own link-building departments. 

When representatives of search engines talk about unnatural links, they primarily refer to buying links. In fact, there is no evidence that Google developed mechanisms for recognizing SEO links. It analyzes a large number of factors, but a lot of sites using paid links are still stay on top. 

If you recall the words of John Mueller, sites may appear on the top positions not only because of great link value, active use of rel nofollow, and high project trust. There are many other reasons for this. 

Few SEO specialists will argue with the fact that links affect ranking. Search engine guides for webmasters clearly state that links help to find quality sites. However, official answers often sound like "backlinks are not a key ranking factor."

In the US, there are almost no link exchanges, but that does not prevent webmasters from posting guest posts, using outreach, making publications in directories, and opening profiles. Optimizers dedicate a lot of their time to link building, and in the near future, this fundamental stage of website promotion will not disappear.

7.3. Link Exchanges

According to search engines, any schemes of link exchange are considered spamming. If adding a link is not the owner’s initiative but the result of an agreement between webmasters, it should not increase the value of the recipient. 

In practice, link exchange schemes continue to exist, and optimizers use them to the benefit of their projects. Some do not even pay enough attention to the elaboration of methodology and act conventionally. 

There are many schemes, but not all bring results. For example, if two SaaS services with high-quality content exchange guest articles, backlinks will complement a link profile perfectly. This practice is in demand worldwide. 

When crawlers notice that sites are constantly referring to each other, they activate the enhanced verification mode. If algorithms find a lot of markers confirming link unnaturalness, backlinks may no longer be considered in a profile. 

7.4. Guest Posts with Keyword-rich Anchor Text Links

Bach in the day when search engine algorithms were not as advanced as they are now, experienced webmasters promoted sites to the first positions in search results through links with over-optimized anchors.

For example, few people now use links with an anchor like "order handmade furniture NY at a discount." If an anchor and the text around the link look unnatural, search engine algorithms will pay attention to the link, and it is impossible to predict the consequences in advance.

Links with over-optimized anchors are not just useless but dangerous. Google introduced a filter for over-optimization back in 2012, but in 2023, optimizers still use this tool to promote sites. They expect to promote highly competitive queries and outperform competitors using "gray" methods.

If an overoptimized link is tagged with noindex and nofollow, this will not protect the donor and the recipient from scrutiny imposed by algorithms. Suspicious anchors are always in the sight of search engines, and the situation is unlikely to change.  

7.5. Automated Link Building

Any tool can be used in various ways. Some optimizers implement link building with a maximum focus on quality, and add backlinks only on trusted sites. And others set up a filter on link exchanges and buy links automatically.

A few years ago, services for automated promotion were at the peak of their popularity. They are in demand even now, but the activity of optimizers has decreased. Firstly, webmasters and SEO specialists realized that it is better to buy one quality link than 10 low-quality ones. 

Second, safe link-building methods have gained top priority: outreach, guest posts, crowd marketing. In 2023, automated link building is rarely used. 

And the same goes for automatic promotion services. They may only be of interest to entrepreneurs who do not want to pay, let’s say, $5,000 a month to a specialist and expect to complete the task for $2,000. 

7.6. Dofollow Directories

Links from dofollow profiles and directories are used together with other link-building methods. Directories of organizations and sites are excellent for diluting the link mass.  

Links from directories can do harm to a site only if they appear in huge numbers, although most directories do not transfer value and even hide external URLs with a redirect. 

Links in directories will affect your site’s reputation if they are published on thousands of platforms of dubious quality and deliberately generate duplicate pages for the rapid growth of inbound links. And if a link builder creates 10-20 backlinks from authoritative directories every month, they may even bring the targeted traffic. 

On the Internet, you can often find lists of directories for placing dofollow links, but it is not worth using them as a primary tool for building the link mass. It is better to focus on other methods of link building.  

7.7. Press Releases

Press releases are one of the oldest methods of getting backlinks. Recently, interest in them has begun to increase again because some optimizers take unconventional approaches and benefit even from publications that are considered low-quality. 

If you post on all sites that an online store has launched a personal account and send spammy links, search engine algorithms will not like it. A different thing is publishing press releases on niche or thematic sites with a target audience. 

If the link is not marked with a rel nofollow tag, you can even get the donor value at a minimal cost. But there is no point in posting 100-200 such articles and save on other link-building methods. This technique is not for constant use – it’s rather recommended that you use it when the situation calls for it.

Unnatural links can ruin all the previous achievements of a site. Search engines are constantly improving algorithms to find SEO links more accurately and faster, and penalize all the participants of the ranking manipulation scheme. 

8. Dofollow and Nofollow Links in SEO

Nofollow and dofollow are link attributes that notify search engines whether it is necessary to pass link value or not. When placing backlinks, a webmaster decides if they should be open to crawlers and factored into the PageRank link ranking algorithm.

Since 2014, Google PageRank is closed to public access, but link value is still passed, and algorithms calculate the importance of a landing page based on the authority of a donor. The more authoritative sites refer to a resource, the higher its trust will be.

Optimizers use the nofollow attribute to mention projects in the quality of which they are not sure or if they do not want to dilute the link value. Many webmasters alternate nofollow and dofollow to avoid attracting the attention of search engines.

Algorithms can penalize projects for using link exchange schemes; so, webmasters are often overcautious. Optimizers don’t mind buying backlinks that don’t pass link value because they make up a natural link mass and raise less suspicion from search engines than dofollow. 

When Google added the feature of managing link value passing, it was guided by the fact that the decision to add the attribute should be made by a webmaster. And crawlers will scan content and decide what to do with this or that backlink. 

According to Ahrefs research , the nofollow attribute is used in 10.6% of all backlinks to the first 110,000 sites. And webmasters rarely close internal links from passing link value. At the same time, the attribute can help cut the chain of link value if you want to refer to a secondary page with little chance of ranking high in organic search results.

The statistics reflect the overall picture, but the situation may be different for each project. Any major site with good niche traffic can have even more nofollow links than dofollow ones. 

Theoretically, if a site posts a link to another resource without nofollow, it passes its link value to the recipient. If there are a lot of such postings, the authority of the promoted resource will increase over time, and the links from it will be highly valued.

In practice, the mechanism is not as straightforward ­ search engine crawlers themselves decide whether to take into account a certain backlink. If it seems suspicious to them, the link value will not be passed even if the nofollow attribute and the noindex tag are absent.

8.1. What Is a Nofollow Link?

The nofollow attribute, which means "do not follow," was previously used to send crawlers a signal prohibiting the passing of static and anchor value. If there is no attribute in the source code, link value passes from the donor to the recipient.

The word "may" is of great importance in SEO. It is applied to almost every essential tool. Algorithms may follow the nofollow rule to limit the passage of static and anchor value, but they may also not do so. It is impossible to predict the result in advance; it depends on a large number of factors.

Nofollow is used to notify search engines that a webmaster does not trust the resource to which he/she refers. The attribute in the source code sends a signal to algorithms, and they further make a decision after careful analysis.

The situation with the use of nofollow in each niche can vary. For example, optimizers avoid diluting link value and rarely use dofollow for outbound links when dealing with highly competitive topics. And for inbound links, they take a different approach.

8.2. When and Why to Use Nofollow Links

There are different situations when nofollow links should be used. Some of them are:

  1. Prevent value passing to service pages. Webmasters often have to refer to privacy policy, site map, registration form, and other technical sections. 
  2. Protect yourself from sanctions. If all links will be dofollow, this will raise the suspicion of search engine algorithms.
  3. Report lack of trust in recipients. The key role of the nofollow attribute lies precisely in this.
  4. Mask sold links. Optimizers also pay for nofollow links, but they are more interested in backlinks open for indexing.
  5. Manage crawling. Theoretically, crawlers follow links without nofollow more often.

8.2.1. Distancing Yourself from Undesirables

Any SEO tool should be used as intended. The nofollow attribute is used for links to resources that are not trusted by a webmaster. Nofollow also helps to reduce the attractiveness of the resource to spammers. Not all webmasters who get links with the help of automated tools appreciate nofollow.

8.2.2. The Whole Page Is Irrelevant To Your Niche

If for some reason, you need to publish an article about, say, a beer festival on a website about hunting, and it contains several links to useful and interesting sources, Google may consider this to be a problem. The search engine can assume that the article was not posted by you and apply penalties. To avoid this, all links in such publications should be marked with nofollow.

8.2.3. The Link Appears on Multiple Pages in the Same Spot

For a website placing the same link on each web page, it would be useful to add the nofollow tag to it to avoid suspicions on Google’s side. If the information on pages is regularly updated, a new backlink is created every time, and it will be considered undesirable. Adding nofollow will not prevent visitors from clicking but will help avoid any issues with Google.

8.3. Nofollow vs. Dofollow Links 

An average user sees no visual difference between a link with rel nofollow and a link without the attribute. If a link looks organic in content, one can follow it even if it doesn’t pass link value. And the recipient will get organic traffic.

The use of nofollow is justified by the fact that search engines recommend optimizers to closely monitor the quality of the resources they refer to. For example, if a project often refers to doorway pages and other low-quality resources, its ranking may be affected.

Making all links on a site nofollow is risky. John Mueller has often mentioned that sites should trust the resources they refer to. If crawlers see a nofollow link for every reference, a donor may have problems with ranking.

8.4. Why Nofollow Doesn’t Always Mean “Don’t Follow”

Prior to March 2020, algorithms recognized links with nofollow on site pages and could either not pass value through or not consider the backlink at all when ranking. After the introduction of two new link attributes, the situation has changed.

For paid and ugc links, other attributes are designed. You can combine nofollow with other attributes but only if this is justified. Google’s algorithms always act independently and make a decision based on the benefit to the quality of search results.

Novice optimizers sought to make a nofollow link, and crawlers ignored the attribute in the source code and made it clear that such references are taken into account in a link profile. Attitudes towards nofollow have changed, and with this, the webmasters’ approach to backlinking should change as well.

8.5. Avoid Using Nofollow to Stop Google from Indexing a Page

Until March 2020, webmasters used the attribute to prevent search crawlers from following links. Now, it’s not the most effective strategy because nofollow is not a directive.

Google has changed its approach to the nofollow attribute ­ it is now treated as a hint. Crawlers were able to follow links before, and now, webmasters were informed that nofollow is no longer serving its original purpose.

So, before you add nofollow to a link, make sure it’s not sponsored or posted in comments. Nofollow links are used as a signal in ranking, and this probably worked even before new link attributes were introduced.

Novice optimizers should remember that search engine crawlers are guided by search quality and may ignore the rules that a webmaster sets when placing links. Even if one completely closes the page from indexing, crawlers can still follow links.

9. How to See How Many Nofollowed Links You Have

If you analyze the link mass of the leader in a particular niche, you may notice that the number of dofollow links is much smaller, and there are nofollow noindex links even from trusted resources. The reason is that optimizers are afraid of penalties. 

It is possible to determine the number of nofollow links in several ways. The first is to manually look through the page code by right-clicking and selecting View Source Code in the menu. The number of nofollow tags in the code corresponds to the number of nofollow links.

The second way is to use browser extensions, such as the NoFollow Chrome extension or Strike out Nofollow Links.

10. Differentiating Nofollow, UGC, and Sponsored Attributes

Webmasters and optimizers usually check dofollow links when buying backlinks. If the attribute is in the source code of the page, the donor can be used for posting as long as it has good link metrics.

The problem for optimizers is that in 2023, some site owners refuse to add links without using the attributes that search engine algorithms use for profile analysis. Some add not only nofollow but also 2 new link attributes.

Sponsored and ugc attributes were added to enable search engine algorithms to better recognize different link types and improve backlink analysis mechanisms. In the 2019 Webspam Report , Google reported that the two new attributes would allow webmasters to more accurately provide search engines with information about links.

The report also indicated that, according to the observations of search engine specialists, webmasters have begun to actively use new attributes. Site owners are recommended to mark links correctly.

Nofollow, sponsored, and ugc are link attributes that serve different purposes. Nofollow is perceived by Google as a marker for links that are not trusted by a webmaster, sponsored is designed to tag sponsored posts, while ugc is for user-generated content.

Google representatives have repeatedly pointed out that it’s up to a webmaster to decide which attributes to use. For all important issues, Google applies the "may" rule, not the "must" rule. Optimizers can mark links according to the proposed scheme, but they are not obliged to do so.

10.1. What Are UGC and Sponsored Attributes?

A few years ago, webmasters were choosing between dofollow and nofollow when marking backlinks and often could not quickly decide which attribute to use. In 2019, the list of the available options has expanded, and making a decision is even more difficult.

Google added the sponsored attribute for site owners to tag sponsored posts. Theoretically, any paid link, not one inserted to increase the informational value of an article, should be marked with rel="sponsored."

In practice, things usually go the opposite way. Webmasters avoid showing paid links to algorithms because this can negatively affect the project’s impressions in organic search results. 

The ugc attribute is less problematic. Google recommends adding it to all links left by users. If posting links in the comments is forbidden, and there is no other ugc on a site, the ugc attribute can be skipped.

10.2. Creating Sponsored or Nofollow Links in WordPress

Since Google added two new attributes for link markup, many popular CMSs introduced tools to quickly add the parameters to the source code. WordPress has long provided the ability to automatically add rel noopener noreferrer along with nofollow, but the situation changed.

In one of the most popular SEO plugins, Yoast SEO, the feature to add sponsored and ugc attributes became available only in June 2020 . When posting an article, a site owner can manually set rel attribute values for each link.

In the widget settings, it is recommended to use nofollow when search engines should ignore links, and sponsored ­ to mark sponsored or paid posts. If a webmaster is worried about the site’s ranking, it is possible to automatically add nofollow to all external links.

The sponsored attribute requires a special approach. It is worth setting up automatic addition of the attribute only in certain sections. For example, if the site has a form for paid links, such backlinks should be marked as "sponsored."

10.3. Combining the Nofollow Link Attribute with Other Values

Google Search Central indicates that attributes can be combined if necessary. It is the site owner who decides which formula to use for a particular backlink. But before setting attributes, it is necessary to analyze the situation and make the right decision.

For example, you can mark a paid link with the sponsored attribute and add nofollow if you do not want to pass value or do not trust the resource. Not all optimizers will agree to pay for such a link, but it’s better to lose some money than get penalized by Google. 

It is better to automatically add rel ugc to links left by users in comments or articles. This way, search engines will see that it is a user but not a webmaster that is responsible for adding backlinks.

If you expect to use ugc and nofollow to hide paid links, it is better to reject this idea. Google algorithms have accumulated enough data to independently distinguish sponsored backlinks from user ones. And manipulation of algorithms is a direct path to penalties. 

11. When Should You Use Which Attribute?

Using any attributes for links is up to a webmaster. Not to lose money from advertisers who are against adding sponsored to a source code, you will have to take a risk. You might avoid penalties for placing paid links, but this outcome is not excluded.

Each link attribute has its own purpose; so, they must be used properly. For example, if every backlink in comments will be marked as sponsored, and there are thousands of comments on a site, it will be difficult to predict Google’s resolution. 

In such a situation, the risk of falling under filters is maximized. Algorithms can completely refuse to take into account links from donor sites or reject specific links, although the first option is more realistic.  

11.1. The Sponsored Attribute

According to Google Search Central, the html sponsored attribute should be used for promotional or paid links. In the past, the search engine recommended using nofollow, but now, it’s better to use the new attribute.

A webmaster can add nofollow to the rel attribute so as not to pass link value. If optimizers do not mind diluting the profile with such a backlink, you won’t need to give up your money in favor of secure the search engine ranking. 

Search engine algorithms analyze not only links with different attributes but also the accompanying content to understand whether a webmaster was honest when refusing nofollow or sponsored links. If an optimizer uses a standard link strategy and buys dofollow with similar anchors, crawlers can easily figure it out. 

In an August video meeting with webmasters, John Mueller pointed out that affiliate backlinks are treated by algorithms as links with the nofollow attribute. Accordingly, they may not pass value and have minimal impact on the recipient’s trust.

11.1.1. For Links That Are Advertisements

If a reference to an external site appeared in an article as an advertisement, it is better to use the sponsored attribute in the source code. Google understands that many companies promote their projects with affiliate articles on external resources.  

Keep in mind that the search engine has almost unlimited resources for crawling content and training neural networks. Google can easily recognize affiliate links even if there is no corresponding attribute in the source code. 

It’s better to warn optimizers in advance that paid links are marked with sponsored; or you can ignore Google’s recommendations. Penalties for posting paid links are possible even when tagging backlinks with the appropriate attribute. 

If you want to find a middle ground, you can mark only some backlinks and hope that algorithms will not pay attention to the project. Google always acts as an "advisor" and gives recommendations on how to work with the search engine. Webmasters are free to do whatever they want.

11.1.2. For Links That Are Placed as a Form of Sponsorship

The rel sponsored attribute indicates that the link is sponsored. When crawlers see this attribute in the source code, they know that the link is sponsored. Such backlinks are not recognized as spam by default, but it all depends on the quality of a platform. 

Google is against link schemes and can penalize a project even if a backlink matches the content perfectly. It is up to a webmaster to decide whether to use paid links or not. However, penalties are not excluded. 

Site owners often mark sponsored links – this is a profitable business. If Google imposed restrictions on all sites for paid links, sponsored links could disappear. So far, there has been no global rejection of sponsored backlinks.

11.1.3. Any Other Situation Where Someone Has Paid

If a backlink is placed not to advertise a resource or draw attention to a project but for other purposes, it is also better to mark it with rel sponsored. There is nothing wrong with it, but if the profile of the site to be promoted consists entirely of such content, it may look suspicious to Google. 

It should be noted once again that the search engine does not require optimizing backlinks. You can just make them nofollow and protect link value from passing. But this can hardly be called a good solution. Google has repeatedly confirmed that links to trusted resources in articles enhance credibility.

11.2. The UGC Attribute

Before the introduction of the two new attributes, webmasters used to make all user links nofollow and considered the problem solved. Things changed in 2019 as Google updated the previous set of recommendations.

The ugc attribute is used for backlinks that users place in any part of a site. This can be comments, articles, photos, and other content. Many webmasters consider the attribute to be safer than sponsored, which makes sense. Yet not all major projects add the appropriate attribute to user links. 

The introduction of ugc is a logical development of Google’s algorithms. Many webmasters have a negative attitude towards the changes, but there is nothing wrong with them. It is enough to make the markup of user-generated content once and forget about the task. 

Popular CMSs have tools to automatically set the right link attributes. For example, ugc support was added to WordPress in November 2019 . All links in comments began to be marked as user by default.

11.2.1. For Links in Blog or Article Comments

The classic mechanism for using the ugc attribute implies adding it to links in comments. Many site owners remove all references to external resources, but sometimes, it is impossible to do without backlinks. For example, it may be necessary to refer to an article on Wikipedia or another authoritative resource.

These links should also be marked with ugc to show that they were posted by users, and the site owner allowed their publication because there are no references to dubious resources in the comments. 

If a site has user blogs, it is possible to set up automatic addition of the attribute to all links to external resources. And to avoid losing link value, use a combination of nofollow and ugc. In this case, it is better not to add dofollow for external links.

11.2.2. For Links Contained in Forum Posts

Forums have a lot of user-generated content that appears rapidly. On "live" moderated platforms, the volume of posts may be very large. For such projects, automatic markup of links with optimal attributes is ideal.

A combination of nofollow and ugc is best for forums. If you leave backlinks with dofollow, link juice can pass to dubious resources. And this is a potential risk of being penalized and losing rankings in organic search results. 

11.2.3. For Any Links That Your Users Are Allowed to Create on Your Site

If there are no user blogs on a site, and comments are added rarely, proper link attribute markup is still a good idea. It’s not worth removing the nofollow tag for links to resources that are unfamiliar to a webmaster. 

For example, if users can post wallpapers or other downloadable content on a site and add links to filesharing sites, it’s best to add nofollow to them and remember about ugc. 

Options for placing user-generated content may vary, but it’s better to use ugc in each case. This is the fastest way to notify search engine crawlers that the link is posted by the project audience, not by a webmaster on a paid basis.   

The majority of projects today use ugc. But Ahrefs complex analytics shows that 0.44% of domains referring to the first 110 thousand sites add rel="ugc" on a regular basis, and the percentage of sponsored is even lower. 

12. Why Not Just Use the Nofollow Attribute

Many webmasters find it logical to mark all links with nofollow – paid links, user links, and references to resources they don’t trust. Site owners do this to protect themselves from passing value to other resources.

It’s up to each webmaster to make the decision, but making all links nofollow is not the best solution. Google representatives have often noted that if a site refers to other resources in an article and uses nofollow to do this, it doesn’t trust the sources. 

After adding two new values to the rel attribute, Google provided webmasters with full discretion. Marking links that have been added before this moment is not necessary. But it is better to markup the references to external resources, made after the appearance of ugc and sponsored, according to the rules.

For example, if a site has affiliate links, and hundreds of comments are added daily, the appropriate rel attribute values of the <a> tag must be used. If you use ugc or nofollow only for paid links, the project may be penalized. You can make a dofollow link and then add sponsored.

Making all links nofollow is useful when creating technical pages. For example, if a page contains a list of affiliate sites, you can write in the source code <meta name="robots" content="nofollow" />. Theoretically, it should prevent search crawlers from following all links, but the No Follow signal has been serving as a hint for several years now.

Many actively use sponsored and maintain good positions in organic search results, but there is no guarantee that the situation will remain the same tomorrow. If the share of paid links is too high, penalties may still be imposed. In this case, the title attribute does not affect ranking.

13. How Do the Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Updates Affect Webmasters

Site owners had mixed opinions about the emergence of two new rel attribute values of the <a> tag. Some considered it harmful for promotion in Google, others decided to wait for more information, and the rest refused to mark the paid links.

It is worth taking into account that Google is constantly making changes in the ranking algorithms and spends resources on the recognition of link exchange schemes. The search engine has a set of markers allowing determining sponsored posts with high probability.

Therefore, even if a webmaster did not add a rel="sponsored" to a link, search engine algorithms can still mark it as sponsored. The SEO reality can change overnight, and webmasters have to adjust to it if they want to maintain site rankings. 

Shortly after news broke that Google added two new values for the rel attribute, American SEO expert Barry Schwartz asked Google employee Danny Sullivan on his Twitter if nofollow could now be removed from sponsored links. 

Danny replied that it is acceptable to use sponsored or nofollow for sponsored links. 

Danny Sullivan

"If those are sponsored links, either sponsored or nofollow is acceptable. But yes, if the joke is "I’m finally dropping nofollow from them!" sure."

The site of Marie Haynes, an SEO consultant, was the first resource to be backlinked with rel="sponsored." Many webmasters today use the new values of the rel attribute and markup sponsored links. 

13.1. Use a Combination of New Attributes

The rel attribute values in the <a> tag can be combined if necessary. For example, if users post topically-relevant links in the comments, you can mark them with ugc and nofollow. 

This scheme is used by many popular projects and large communities such as Reddit. And a popular resource for programmers, Stack Overflow, automatically marks user links in comments with nofollow, while it does not use ugc. 

The situation is different for each project. For example, one of the largest projects with reviews for the Amazon affiliate program Wirecutter hides links to the online store using redirect but uses a whole set of values for the rel attribute. 

13.2. Use Sponsored Attribute for Paid Links

Many webmasters still prefer to use noindex nofollow to hide sponsored links or prevent crawlers from clicking links to resources they don’t trust. 

However, the fact that many SEO experts use noindex when posting backlinks on personal projects suggests that everything is not that bad. They invest a lot of money and time in the promotion of sites, and they certainly do not want to sacrifice them.

Apparently, they believe that the value of the sponsored attribute should be used for its intended purpose. If the link is not free, one should report it.

13.3. Use UGC Attributes for Blog and Forum Comments

Unlike sponsored, ugc does not pose a potential threat to a site’s visibility in search engines. Therefore, webmasters and optimizers often use it for their projects. Setting up ugc in comments and other sections with user-generated content once is enough, and no further action is required. 

Statistics from Ahrefs research show that not all webmasters have agreed to add link attributes, but ugc is more popular than sponsored. If you look at the numbers in the context of CMS, the leader is WordPress. This is explained by the fact that the content management system is the most popular in the world, and ugc for comments is built-in there by default.  

14. What Is the Noreferrer Attribute

Besides the rel attribute values used for SEO, there are two tools used more often than sponsored and ugc. They are noreferrer and noopener. Many webmasters mistakenly associate them with search engine optimization, but they are designed for technical purposes. 

Noreferrer is a rel attribute value in the <a> tag that hides the source of the redirect. The site where the user clicked on a particular resource is called a referrer. If a webmaster refers to another site in an article and does not want the owner of the recipient resource to see conversions from it in the analytics system, he adds the following to the source code:

<a href="" rel="noreferrer">

The information about the referrer is useful in several cases. For example, if a site is visited by bots, the parameter in the body of the request will prompt which site to block so that crawlers can reduce the artificial activity at least for a while.

The second option is to track the effectiveness of the link strategy. It is believed that if the backlinks drive traffic, the link is posted on the proper resource, and it is worth taking a closer look at the donor for additional advertising.  

14.1. When to Use the Attribute

You should use the rel noreferrer attribute value if you refer to unfamiliar sites and don’t want their owners to see the clicks from your project in the analytics system. 

On some sites, you can see that noreferrer is used in internal links, but it’s not necessary. You can simply add an attribute to open the link in a new tab. Then, when you click on the URL, the page will open in an additional tab in your browser.

14.2. What Is the Impact on SEO

Novice optimizers often associate noreferrer and noopener with search engine optimization. In May , John Mueller, search advocate at Google, said that external, noreferrer, and noopener have no impact on SEO. 

Adding attributes to links doesn’t affect a site’s ranking in search results; they serve only a technical purpose. John also noted that many browsers implicitly add the noopener attribute to links that open in a new window for security purposes. 

Back in August 2017, he replied on his Twitter account that there was no conflict between noopener and noreferrer. But even in 2023, such questions continue to preoccupy the SEO community. 

14.3. WordPress Specifics

In the standard WordPress editor, when you set up link opening in a new window, not only the target="_blank" attribute but also rel nofollow noopener is added to the source code. This happens without manual intervention and is done for security purposes. 

So, any links that should open in a new window will be by default protected against this widespread vulnerability. A few years ago, it was actively exploited by attackers because not all users knew about it. 

14.4. Noreferrer and Affiliate Links

If your site contains links to online stores or other platforms with affiliate markers in their URLs, you don’t have to mark them with noreferrer. It all depends on the affiliate program rules: if the referrer should be transferred, the attribute is mandatory.

Most affiliate programs do not assign target actions to an affiliate by means of a referrer displayed in the Source field but through affiliate markers. Accordingly, you can safely use noreferrer and not worry about the loss of conversion. 

Moreover, there are plugins for popular CMSs that hide affiliate links and post them through redirects. Such links are not even marked with nofollow and other rel attribute values, though Google knows how to recognize redirects and connects the redirect to the final URL. 

Note that if you use noreferrer in your Google Analytics reports, conversions from an external site will not be displayed in the Conversions section. The rel attribute value hides the source of the conversion, and all visits go to Direct.

14.5. Combining the Noreferrer Link Attribute with Other Values

The rel attribute value that doesn’t allow seeing the referrer can be used in combination with other values. Different combinations can be found in source codes of sites:

  • external noopener noreferrer;
  • noreferrer noopener;
  • nofollow noopener noreferrer.

The last option is usually used for links to external resources, which the site owner does not trust. The first value prompts crawlers that it is not necessary to click on the link, and the other two are used for safe content browsing.

14.6. Difference Between Nofollow and Noreferrer

Nofollow and noreferrer are often confused, and it is believed that they solve the same problem. The difference is that the first rel attribute value in the <a> tag is used to prevent clicks on a link, but it acts as a cue. 

Noreferrer is used in combination with noopener to work with new browser tabs or independently as an effective way to hide the referrer. Most CMSs set optimal default values, and a webmaster doesn’t need to take any additional steps. 

15. The Noopener Attribute

The new rel attribute value was introduced as a security tool. When webmasters posted links to external resources using target="blank," attackers could use their mistake to steal users’ personal data.

If a user, while reading an article, clicks on a link that was not secured with noopener noreferrer, he/she can fall victim to fraud. Through the use of JavaScript features, attackers can partially modify page content.

This attack is called tabnabbing . Perpetrators can not only change the content of the page of the resource from which the conversion was made but also perform a redirect to the phishing page. And users won’t see that the browser address bar has been updated and will easily disclose their personal data. 

To protect against tabnabbing, the noopener attribute was invented, which prevents manipulating the content of the page that opens in a new browser tab. We have already noted that in many popular browsers, noopener is added by default, even without the site owner’s consent.

15.1. When Should You Use It

The attribute must be used for all links that should open in a new browser tab. Note that in most cases, webmasters add noopener when referring to external resources in content. 

When using a CMS where noopener is not used by default, you should manually change the source code of links and make sure that links with target="blank" have a noopener by default. There is no reason to doubt that the built-in security mechanism in browsers does not work correctly, but extra security measures may come in handy.  

15.2. Rel=”noopener” and Seo

In the section on noreferrer, we noted that rel noreferrer and other technical attribute values do not affect SEO. They are used to protect against content spoofing and redirects to phishing sites that attackers can use to steal data.

There is no reason to believe that if a link is marked with noopener, there will be any implications for the project’s ranking in organic results. Moreover, Google uses the attribute value in the help section for webmasters and on other internal projects. 

15.3. What Is Rel=”noopener” In WordPress

It protects users from phishing and other kinds of attacks that can be performed with content spoofing. Tabnabbing is based on a mechanism that ensures that a page opened in a new browser tab by a potential victim is absolutely trustworthy. 

In WordPress and other CMSs, the rel noopener attribute value is set automatically, and that’s a good idea because in 2023, not all webmasters know about tabnabbing. Some may not even know what rel noopener means, but the main thing is that the audience of the resource will be protected against perpetrators’ actions.

15.3.1. How It Affects Your WordPress SEO

Sometimes, you can see a claim that nofollow noopener caused penalties from Google, but this is not true. These rel attribute values do not affect WordPress SEO regardless of the plugin a webmaster uses for search engine optimization. 

The settings for opening a page in a new tab are done through the standard CMS editor, and plugins can simply analyze the number of links on the page and give hints on the use of other attributes.

15.3.2. Does It Affect Affiliate Links in WordPress?

Noopener does not affect affiliate links posted on sites that use WordPress. If conversion data are passed through markers in the URL structure, affiliate program statistics will be correct. 

There is no need to worry that orders will disappear from statistics if noopener is specified in the source code of links. It is better to focus on nofollow, sponsored, and ugc. 

15.3.3. How to Disable It in WordPress

It is possible to disable automatic setting of rel="noopener" for links in WordPress but only if this is really necessary. You should not rely solely on the browser that will implicitly add the noopener attribute to the link. 

To disable the function, insert the following code snippet in functions.php of the active theme:

function wpb_disable_noopener( $mceInit ) {
return $mceInit;

You can use other methods of protecting against tabnabbing. For example, you can add JS code that blocks the possibility to manipulate pages opened in a new browser tab.

var otherWindow =;
otherWindow.opener = null;
otherWindow.location = url;

But it’s better not to disable the automatic addition of noopener to all links in WordPress. This way you will protect your users as much as possible. Perhaps, some of them knowingly use old browser versions, which do not have built-in protection against tabnabbing. 

15.4. Difference Between Noopener and Nofollow

In most cases, noopener is not used without other rel values. For links to external resources that you do not trust and do not want crawlers to click on them, you can use the combination of nofollow noopener. 

The difference between nofollow noopener and nofollow is that the latter one gives attackers a chance to use tabnabbing, although most content management systems protect their users by default. 


The ranking is affected not so much by link attributes but by the approach to posting backlinks. If a site refers to irrelevant projects and the ratio of outbound links to inbound ones shows that the project is running a business on paid posts, its ranking may drop over time. 

Use link attributes for their intended purpose and make the decision to openly showcase sponsored backlinks based on your priorities. If you focus on income, keep in mind that many advertisers will not like the sponsored attribute in the source code of the page. 


Are Nofollow Links Good for SEO?

They may be considered in the ranking, but it all depends on the donor’s ranking, quality of link posting, and other factors.

What Are Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Attributes?

Nofollow shows systems that the site owner does not trust the sites he or she refers to in the content. Sponsored indicates sponsored or paid links, and UGC is for user links.

What Is the UGC Attribute?

This is the attribute used for marking links added by users.

What Is the Sponsored Attribute?

The sponsored attribute is used to mark sponsored or paid links.

Do I Need to Change Attributes if I’m Already Using the Nofollow Attribute on Ads or Sponsored Links?

Ugc should be used if your site has user links, and they were not previously marked with the appropriate attribute. Sponsored can be used optionally.

How Do I Tell if a Link Is Nofollow?

You can manually look through the page code by right-clicking and selecting View Source Code in the menu or use browser extensions, such as the Nofollow Chrome extension or Strike out Nofollow Links.

Can I Use More Than One Rel Value on a Link?

Yes, this is possible and even recommended in some cases.

Why Should I Bother Using Any of These New Attributes?

You should not bother using them. It is just necessary to know when and why it is better to add them to links.

When Should I Use Nofollow Internal Links?

Since 2009, using nofollow for internal links does not make sense.

Kyryk Oleksandr
SEO Consultant

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