On September 9th, Google announced that they will add two new link attributes. They intend to support webmasters in their daily tasks to define the character of an ingoing or outgoing link.

Until now we only had the “nofollow” attribute. This sent a signal to Google to not count the “nofollow links” when performing their link evaluation and link calculation.

The discussion has never stopped yet. People wondered whether and if yes, how nofollow links nevertheless were rewarded by Google in the past years.

Nofollow Links: Google Adds New Link Attributes

Google now adds the following two attributes. The intention is to offer “additional ways to identify to Google Search the nature of particular links.”

The attributes are rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc”. The latter stands for “user-generated content”.

rel=”sponsored” is meant to identify links on a website site “that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.” This may help to segregate content areas and prequalify links.

rel=”ugc”  is “recommended for links within user-generated content, such as comments and forum posts.”

What Do We Still Need Nofollow For?

The question remains, which kind of content production should get which attribute?  This remains somewhat nebulous.  The reason Google gives for still using the attribute “nofollow” doesn´t separate it from the now introduced attributes.

Google says that we should “use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page”. This sounds quite reasonable in itself.

Clarifications For The Attributes Needed

What the recommendation not does, is to clarify wherein the differences in the evaluation ly from Google point of view.

As an example: what is, when a long term user o commentator of a web site likes to buy ad space for an in-depth review of some products he uses for the sake of branding himself. The owner of the website closes a deal with the user but does not want to give any credit to the link.

This is difficult as the user´s  article  is

  1. Sponsored
  2. user-generated content and
  3. the website owner doesn’t “want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.”

Practical Adaption Remains Difficult

Even though Google accepts the use of two out of three attributes it doesn´t really add practical advice. Google says, that “if you want to avoid a possible link scheme action, use rel=“sponsored” or rel=“nofollow” to flag these links. We prefer the use of “sponsored,” but either is fine and will be treated the same, for this purpose.”

This makes the use of the additional attributes, which Google calls a “hint model” even more impractical and irritating if not even superfluous.

And when Google adds that “in most cases, the move to a hint model won’t change the nature of how we treat such links” transparency doesn´t gain much space.  Google probably leaves webmasters clueless. And Google continues by saying

“All the link attributes — sponsored, UGC and nofollow — are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. We’ll use these hints — along with other signals — as a way to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within our systems.”

Anybody who ever had contact with the Google Universe will see the problem arising at the horizon. Any vague statement coming from Google officials can bear misunderstandings, misinterpretations, pointless discussions and fears.

So we will hopefully get more precise information soon that explains how to handle this in the daily routines.

German Version

See also
Google CTR for Top 10 Positions
Old Google Search Console No Longer Available

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