Prior to the end of September, when a site linked to your firm’s, it was either a dofollow link or a nofollow link. A “nofollow” link means that although the link may take a user to your firm’s site, a search engine should ignore it. These types of backlinks do not have any impact on rankings while dofollow links may. The label “nofollow” was created to help combat comment spam (someone frequently posting a link in your comments to get a backlink).
For linkbuilding purposes, you want your backlinks to be dofollow links. A search engine will see the backlink to your firm’s site and consider it a vote of confidence for your firm’s site while a nofollow link will just be ignored, having no impact.
Now, Google has announced new link attributes. These are meant to help Google better understand the nature of links. There are now two more types of links joining nofollow and dofollow. These are “sponsored” and “ugc”.
Sponsored: Links with the sponsored attribute are for exactly what they sound like. They should be used with links on a site that were posted as part of sponsorships, advertising, or other compensation agreements. Say your personal injury firm partners with a local cycling club and sponsors a race. If the cycling club posts about your sponsorship on their site and links to your firm, the link would be labeled as “sponsored”. This would be done by saying <a href= “yourfirmsdomain.com” rel=“sponsored”>.
UGC: UGC stands for “user generated content”. This new tag would be most relevant for links that are posted in comments or forums. For example, if someone were to comment on a forum for those with cancer a link to your disability firm’s site, the forum may add in the UGC attribution. This would be <a href=“yourdisabilityfirm.com” rel= “ugc”>. In the past, forum comments were often labeled as “nofollow”. Now those labeled as “ugc” may not be excluded when Google examines backlinks.
Why Did Google Create These?
Prior to these two link attributes, Google completely ignored some links. These new attributions will help hint to whether a link should be included or excluded from Google’s search. Google can use the information from the “hints” to help find unnatural link patterns, such as high numbers of sponsored links and a limited number of natural or UGC links.
You can even add multiple link attributions to a link. If a user comments a link on your forum, you can add the “UGC” and “nofollow” attribution. Google will then know that a user added the link and that you do not support the link.
As this change rolls out, different SEO companies and services will likely start showing your different backlinks. Now, most show your firm’s backlinks and which are labeled as “nofollow”. Though many believe these link attributes won’t begin to catch on for another year, monitoring what type of backlinks your firm has can be beneficial for when these new attributions begin to carry more weight.