What are Google’s new link attributes? Do I need to change my existing nofollow links?

What are Google’s new link attributes?

Google introduced the nofollow attribute almost 15 years ago. It was added as a method to help fight comment spam and evolved to become one of Google’s recommended practices for tagging sponsored or advertising related links. The web has undergone quite an evolution since no follow began in 2005. Do you have any questions? Get more information about our SEO Company to find out how we can best help you.

Google has added two new link attributes to provide webmasters and marketers with additional ways to identify the nature of particular links.



Use the rel=”sponsored” attribute on links that are on your site that are created as part of sponsorships, advertisements, or other compensation agreements. This is particularly important to bloggers and influencers who regularly participate in marketing campaigns.


UGC stands for user-generated content. You should use the UGC attribute for links within user-generated content such as forum and comment posts.


Rel=”nofollow” Is meant to be used in cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to indicate any endorsement including passing the ranking credit to another page.

Back in 2005, when nofollow was first introduced, Google would not count any link with the nofollow tag as a signal for use within the search algorithms. This is not the case today.

All the link attributes, whether nofollow, sponsored, or UGC is treated as which links to consider or exclude within the search engine results pages. The Google algorithms will use these hens along with other signals as a way to better understand how to analyze and use the links within their systems appropriately.

Why the sudden change? In the past, nofollow links were completely ignored. Google has since determined that links contain valuable information that can help them improve search, such as how the words within links describe the content they point to. Google has decided that by looking at all the links, they run into they can improve their understanding of unnatural linking patterns. By using the hint model, they aren’t losing this critical information and still allow webmasters and site owners to indicate that certainly shouldn’t be given the weight of the first party endorsement.

FAQ Regarding the Changes to Link Attributes

Do I need to change existing nofollows?

If you are currently using no follow as a way to block sponsored links or to let Google know that you do not vouch for the page you linked to, Google will continue to support that. You don’t need to change any of the nofollow link that you already have.

Can I use multiple rel values on a single link?

Yes, it is possible to use more than one real value on a single link. For instance, you can use the UGC and the sponsored attribute like this: rel=”ugc sponsored” To indicate that the link came from user-generated content that is sponsored. It’s also valid to use nofollow with the attributes to ensure backward compatibility with services that do not support the new attributes.

Do I need to change nofollows on ads and sponsored links?

If you’re already using no follow for ads or sponsored links, you can continue to use no-follow as a method for flagging these links and avoid possible links game penalties. There is no need to change any existing lock-up. If you have systems that append this to new Lynx, they can continue to do so; however, it’s a good idea to switch to the real sponsored attribute win or if it is convenient for you.

You do still need to flag ads or sponsored links to avoid possible link scheme penalties. Google prefers the use of sponsored rather than nofollow to flag these links, but either is fine, and they will be treated the same for this purpose.

If you fear using the wrong attribute on a link, there’s no incorrect attribute except when it comes to sponsored links. If you flag a UGC link or non-ad link as sponsored, Google will see the hints, but there would be little to no impact. At most, Google may not count the link as credit for another page. In this case, it’s no different than the current approach of many UGC and not ad links that are already marked as nofollow.

That said any length that is an ad or sponsored should use either the sponsored attribute or the nofollow attribute. Google prefers the use of “sponsored” but considers “nofollow” and acceptable alternative.

When do these changes go into effect?

As of the announcement on September 10, 2019, the link attributes work to allow Google to incorporate them for ranking purposes. However, for crawling and indexing purposes, the nofollow attribute will convert to a hint on March 1, 2020. At that time, anyone using nofollow solely to block a page from being indexed, which was never a recommendation from Google should use an alternative method to block their URLs from Google. These include:

  • Using robots.txt files
  • Password protecting web server files
  • Meta tags

Will the switch to the hint approach encourage link spam?

A lot of websites that allow third-party to contribute content to their site already deterred link spam with a variety of methods such as moderation tools that can be integrated into many blogging platforms. Using the link attributes of UGC and no follow will continue to be a further deterrent.

In the majority of cases, the move to a hint model will not change the nature of how Google treats those kinds of links. Google will generally treat them the same as they did with no follow before and not consider them for ranking purposes. Google will continue to carefully assess how to use links with inserts just as they have always done and how they have to do when no attributions are used.

Why bother using the new attributes?

Using the new attributes will help Google better understand and process links for web analysis. If people you link to use these attributes, that can include your own content.

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