Google introduces new link attributes – what’s changing?

For 15 years, there is already the link attribute “nofollow” to counteract the spread of spam comments. For links that are set in terms of advertising or sponsorship, the attribute was also recommended as an optimal variant in a timely manner. Since the Internet has been steadily evolving and it has also changed a lot for 15 years, now the “nofollow” had to be extended.


What new link attributes does Google provide?

Google announced on 10.09.2019 that there are now two new methods to create a nofollow link. So site owners have new ways to customize the identification of their links in Google Search. In addition to the attribute nofollow, there are now these two variants:

  1. rel = “sponsored”: If you want to link to your website for the purpose of advertising or sponsorship, you can now use the attribute “sponsored”. You can use this for all links that you want to mark as remunerated.
  2. rel = “ugc”: This attribute is pending for user-generated content and will be used in the future for links generated from comments or posts in forums.

Of course you can still use the attribute value “nofollow”. Use this if you want to link to a website, without that an inheritance of Linkjuice takes place.

Are the new link attributes equivalent to nofollow?

When the attribute nofollow was still new, it was deliberately ignored by the algorithm. This is different now – all of the above attributes are interpreted as clues to how a link should be treated in Google Search.

Why are not the new attributes ignored like nofollow?

The new labelling methods are therefore not ignored because a link always contains information that can be used to optimize the search. For example, links contain words that indicate the content. By switching to the new hinting methods, it should now be prevented that valuable information is overlooked. In addition, webmasters have the opportunity to point out that the links are treated differently and not every Link Linkjuice gets inherited.
Since Google is aware that the introduction of new attributes raises questions, the Group has also designed a question-and-answer list. It lists the most important questions and answers from Google.

Can I keep my existing nofollow links?

Now, if you’re wondering if you need to change anything about your nofollow links already set, then that question will be clearly answered “no.” You can still use the link with nofollow to identify the link so that no link juice should be inherited. The attribute will continue to be treated as such, as before. A change to existing links is not necessary.

Is it possible to use multiple rel values ​​when linking?

You have the possibility to use several rel values ​​for one and the same link. For example, rel = “ugc sponsored” is a legal attribute. It should be noted that the link is set on the one hand as part of a sponsorship and also with user-generated content. You also have the option of using the rel = “nofollow ugc” attribute.

Do I have to change nofollow to the new attribute for sponsored links?

It is not necessary to change an existing link with nofollow for a sponsorship to the attribute “sponsored”. Despite the introduction of new labelling methods, it is possible to leave existing links with nofollow. If you use a CMS that automatically attaches the attribute nofollow to a link, then it can stay that way. However, it is recommended to change the label to “sponsored” if it is considered useful.

Is it still necessary to mark links from advertising and sponsoring accordingly?

Google answers this question with “yes”. To exclude a penalty, you should provide the links with the attributes “sponsored” or “nofollow”. Google prefers “sponsored” in this case, but both attributes are considered equivalent.

The wrong attribute used – what is the consequence?

For wrong attributes, you only have to worry about links as part of a sponsorship. If you mark a user-generated or non-sponsored link as “sponsored”, then, according to Google, this can at most be the case that no link juice is inherited from this link. So there is no difference to other links already marked as nofollow. In general, a link that has been tagged or sponsored by an ad should also be marked as “sponsored” as such. The link with “nofollow” is not wrong here, but the attribute “sponsored” is preferred.

Why does it make sense to use the new attributes?

If you use the new attributes, such as “sponsored” or “ugc”, Google will be better able to use the links for analysis. This may also affect your content, as long as other people in links to you also use the new attributes.

Does the new label not support link spam?

On many websites with the possibility to write contributions to content, the link spam is already being counteracted in various ways. This happens, for example, through moderation tools that require a review of the comments on blogs or similarly structured pages. The introduction and use of the link attributes “ugc” and “nofollow” should now ensure that the spam is contained. According to Google, all link attributes should be handled in the same way. The notes will be considered in the future in the ranking and treated as nofollow. Google will continue to review how links are used in Google Search. This will not change with the new labelling methods in the future.

Google introduces new link attributes

When will the changes regarding the attributes apply?

In terms of ranking, it is nowadays necessary to use the link attributes nofollow, ugc and sponsored at links. As of 01.03.2020, the new attributes should serve as labeling in the context of indexing and crawling. Website owners who only use “nofollow” to prevent a page from being indexed (which Google never advised) should switch to common and Google recommended actions such as “noindex” tag. Since the nofollow attributes only serve that Google does not follow these sides any more, or no Linkjuice inherited, this has even negative effects. As a result, the crawler is denied access to this subpage so that it does not recognize whether the page needs to be indexed or not.noindex tag is specified, it is unclear whether indexing is desired.