SEO News

What Google says about nofollow, sponsored, and UGC links in 2020: Does it affect your SEO rankings?

30-second abstract:

  • Whereas nofollow hyperlinks solely dominated the online for 14 years, Google not too long ago introduced two new additions: sponsored and UGC hyperlinks.  
  • Shortly afterward, Google made additional amendments to all three hyperlinks. 
  • This text breaks down the place issues presently stand.  
  • Joseph Dyson discusses whether or not the brand new hyperlink attributes affect rankings and concludes with recommendations on how companies can enhance on-line visibility.  

Whether or not you’re an website positioning beginner or a seasoned professional, we’re positive you’re conversant in the cardinal rule of the sport: evolution.  

Stagnancy isn’t a standard sight within the digital advertising world 

Google is continually releasing new updates because it strikes towards extra seamless and correct crawling, indexing, and rating.  

On September 10th 2019, Google set the bar increased than earlier than by including two new attributes alongside the preexisting “nofollow” attribute, which had been in place for over 14 years.  

Earlier than we get to the brand new additions, let’s break down the unique nofollow attribute as a fast refresher.  

What’s a nofollow hyperlink? 

A nofollow hyperlink is a hyperlink with a rel=“nofollow” tag.  

What does this imply? To place it as merely as potential, the nofollow tag indicators serps to disregard a hyperlink. The vacation spot URL doesn’t get a lift in search engine rankings, as nofollow hyperlinks don’t cross PageRank (an algorithm that helps Google rank web pages on SERPs).  

In the case of hyperlink constructing, receiving a nofollow backlink is usually a bummer, as your rankings are left in a state of limbo. Whereas internet customers are redirected to your web site, the area that gives you the hyperlink concurrently informs Google to not ship any “hyperlink juice” your method.  

Nonetheless, nofollow hyperlinks nonetheless have hidden perks. They drive site visitors (regardless of leaving rankings untouched), enhance model consciousness, and assist leads uncover and familiarize themselves with your small business.  

However wait, why are nofollow hyperlinks used within the first place?  

Google initially introduced the idea of nofollow hyperlinks in 2005 to combat remark spam. They had been rapidly embraced by the website positioning world and are often used to keep away from breaking website positioning guidelines set by Google.  

Hyperlinks that added worth to content material however couldn’t be vouched for had been categorized as nofollow hyperlinks. As well as, paid hyperlinks additionally included the nofollow hyperlink attribute. This announcement performed an enormous function in stopping companies from shopping for hyperlink juice.  

However what modified?  

Whereas nofollow hyperlinks had been extraordinarily efficient to date, they had been an oversimplified resolution to a fancy drawback. As an alternative of taking subjective intent for together with hyperlinks under consideration, they supplied a cleanly demarcated black and white situation that proved to be a nuisance for a lot of companies.  

The one two choices had been nofollow hyperlinks or dofollow hyperlinks, the latter being the default for all hyperlinks. 

The introduction of sponsored and UGC hyperlinks

In 2019, Google introduced two main additions to straightforward nofollow hyperlinks: sponsored hyperlinks and UGC hyperlinks. 

Entrepreneurs heaved a significant sigh of reduction within the announcement’s wake, as they might now use the 2 new attributes to assist Google higher perceive the hyperlink’s intent and use.  

However that wasn’t all. In March 2020, Google made additional amendments to its earlier announcement.  

Right here’s the place issues presently stand: 

Sponsored hyperlinks

Based on Google’s newest replace, the sponsored attribute (rel=“sponsored”) is particularly used for hyperlinks which are promotional in nature.  

Previous to their creation, paid hyperlinks had been categorized as nofollow hyperlinks, which proved to be extraordinarily deceptive. The brand new sponsored attribute helps Google establish promoting hyperlinks individually.  

The profit? Enhanced categorization and fewer confusion. Hyperlink receivers and suppliers can simply decipher sponsored hyperlinks from “untrustworthy” nofollow hyperlinks. 

UGC hyperlinks

The UGC (user-generated content material) attribute was created to assist Google decide which hyperlinks are, because the acronym signifies, generated by customers.  

This was a lifesaver (we’re not exaggerating) for site owners who had been struggling to point that particular hyperlinks weren’t endorsed.  

The UGC attribute is used to hyperlink to sections of internet sites the place customers generate their very own content material, e.g. remark sections, boards posts, and so forth. 

Nofollow hyperlinks

Google’s newest announcement took the burden off nofollow hyperlinks—fairly actually.  

Beforehand, the nofollow tag was used for each paid and user-generated hyperlinks. Nonetheless, the brand new classes (“sponsored hyperlinks” and “UGC hyperlinks”) made issues a lot less complicated by putting paid and user-generated content material in several classes.  

The nofollow tag is now solely used for non-trusted hyperlinks.  

Whereas nofollow hyperlinks weren’t used for crawling and indexing earlier than, Google’s 2020 replace indicated that they might be used as a “trace” for crawling and indexing. Whereas folks rapidly started to contemplate this a win for rating functions, the image wasn’t as rosy because it was made out to be.  

Presently, every of the three hyperlinks (nollow, sponsored, and UGC) is used as a mere trace, not a direct rating issue. Whereas they might be crawled, they won’t considerably affect rankings. 

Which hyperlink attribute do you have to use?

Whereas including extra choices ought to ideally make issues less complicated, it may backfire for those who’re unsure about correct attribution.  

Right here’s how site owners ought to use the brand new attributes: 

1. rel=“sponsored”

Use the sponsored attribute strictly for paid or sponsored hyperlinks. Whereas affiliate hyperlinks are additionally thought-about sponsored hyperlinks, Google hasn’t instantly made that clear but. 

2. rel=“ugc” 

Use the UGC attribute for all user-generated content material.  

3. rel=“nofollow” 

Use the nofollow attribute if you wish to hyperlink to a particular web page however don’t wish to be related to it for any motive (unreliability, incredibility, untrustworthiness, unfamiliarity). 

The nofollow tag will point out that you just don’t endorse a specific hyperlink and wouldn’t like to supply them rating credit score.  

How do you have to increase your rankings? 

Whereas utilizing these tags is a good way to assiduously categorize your content material, it’s not an enormous win in your rankings… or your hyperlink constructing companions.  

Granted, it’s possible you’ll discover a slight increase. Nonetheless, it’ll be negligible at finest.  

Google’s public search liaison, Danny Sullivan, encapsulated this completely: 

Whereas the newest replace got here a lot later in 2020, it was already being actively mentioned in 2019. Sullivan was fast to dismiss claims that rankings would undergo the roof as soon as the brand new “trace” mannequin was launched.  

Whereas all these nofollow hyperlinks you’ve collected over time will nonetheless assist you to generate site visitors, you’ll finally have to show to different methods to note a substantial increase in rankings 

Listed below are some efficient methods you possibly can climb SERPs: 

Maximize outcomes from hyperlink constructing

Hyperlink constructing is definitely probably the most fast-acting and sustainable strategy to enhance rankings. Briefly, hyperlink constructing includes receiving dofollow backlinks from web sites with excessive area authority (a rating that determines an internet site’s rating on SERPs).  

As you construct high quality backlinks, Google will understand your web site as an authoritative and reliable supply. In actual fact, Google makes use of the standard and amount of backlinks to rank web sites on SERPs. The increase in rankings will assist you to enhance conversions and enhance model id 

It’s essential to notice that your backlinks ought to come from an internet site with good to excessive area authority. The upper, the higher; nonetheless, 50–60 is an effective start line for small companies.  

As well as, ensure you obtain dofollow backlinks versus nofollow backlinks. As mentioned earlier than, the latter will assist you to generate site visitors. Nonetheless, your rankings will stay in a state of limbo for probably the most half (consult with Danny Sullivan’s tweet if the blind optimism kicks in!).  

Really useful hyperlink constructing methods

Should you’re new to the realm of link building, we advocate utilizing these methods: 

  • Leverage the damaged hyperlink constructing methodology 
  • Construct sturdy connections with non-competing companies to supply and obtain hyperlinks 
  • Incorporate extra inside hyperlinks in your content material  
  • Attempt your hand at visitor running a blog 
  • Checklist your website in dependable directories 
  • Convert nofollow backlinks into dofollow backlinks by contacting the respective enterprise  

Create a mobile-friendly web site 

Google not too long ago introduced mobile-first indexing, which implies that Googlebot might be utilizing the cellular model of a web page for rating functions first. Whereas this will likely come as a shock to some folks, we’re positive most of you’re nodding your head “matter-of-factly”.  

The big majority of Individuals (a whopping 96%) personal a cellphone. Should you’ve created a shocking and interactive desktop-friendly web site however haven’t been prioritizing mobile-friendliness, it’s possible you’ll be inadvertently damaging your rankings.  

Take Google’s Cell-Pleasant Take a look at to find out your web site’s accessibility for cell phone customers.  

Should you don’t like what you see, your clients most likely gained’t both.  

Climb SERPs by creating an attention-grabbing and seamless mobile-friendly web site that helps you generate high quality site visitors and develop your small business.  

When mixed with hyperlink constructing, mobile-friendliness can go a great distance in serving to your small business turn into extra seen on serps and break into the Google three-pack 

Create, replace, and optimize your content material 

Whereas you will have checked off all of the packing containers, leaving the content material part untouched can take a toll on your small business.  

Choosing internet design and growth isn’t sufficient. Should you don’t create, replace, and optimize your content material, you’ll fall behind and get engulfed by your competitors.  

Create value-added and fascinating content material to ensure your web site actively circulates SERPs.  

And that’s not all

We advise updating outdated content material on a month-to-month foundation in mild of latest updates and bulletins by Google. As we highlighted earlier than, Google is continually upping its recreation. Sustain with rating components and algorithm amendments to make sure you’re protecting all the bases.  

And, after all, don’t overlook to optimize your content material.

Get in contact with key phrase specialists to grasp key phrase analysis and incorporation. Use the correct mix of short-tail, long-tail, geo-targeting, and LSI key phrases to assist your small business turn into a frequent sight on the primary web page of Google for industry-specific and native searches.  

Based on analysis, over 5 million weblog posts are revealed every day.  

How do you make your content material stand out? Whereas key phrases assist, they’re not the be-all and end-all of optimization. As well as, use title tags, meta description tags, header tags, custom-made URLs, and canonical tags to grasp the artwork of on-page website positioning. We don’t have to say a lot; your rankings might be all of the proof you want! 


Because the website positioning world turns into more and more aggressive every day, claiming your spot merely isn’t sufficient. You have to go the additional mile to protect it.  

Whether or not you’re creating optimized content material or leveraging hyperlink constructing, guarantee consistency to retain on-line visibility and SERP rankings.  

Preserve at it and also you’ll handle to not solely obtain but additionally preserve your goal KPIs over time.

Joseph Dyson is a Senior Account Supervisor at Search Berg with in depth expertise in lead era and digital advertising. He provides hyperlink constructing providers and often contributes to the Search Berg weblog with advertising ideas and insights.

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Joseph Dyson