Earlier this month, Google announced that it was now offering new link attributions for bloggers and other content creators. Any experienced content creator knows that previously, any paid or sponsored link needed to be a no follow link. These no follow links were a signal to Google that the content creator had some incentive to post the content. But now, Google has two new signals that bloggers could use, UGC and sponsored. What’s the difference between these signals and when should you use them?
Sponsored, or rel=”sponsored” is used when a link is considered paid. This includes when a company pays a fee for a sponsored post, but it also includes product-only partnerships. Anytime a business provides an incentive to create content, sponsored should be used. Google says that it will not crawl or index any links with the sponsored attribution, however beginning in March 2020, it may decide to crawl and index these links, as well as use them as a ranking signal.
User generated content is for links found within UGC, such as blog post comments, news site comments and forum links. This change is meant to encourage organic link sharing for content, without requiring sites to police links. Content creators should not use UGC on paid or sponsored links, or else they may open their site up to a link penalty. Like the sponsored link attribution, Google says that it will not crawl or index UGC links, but that this can change in March 2020. Google has also said that it may use these links as a ranking signal.
The no follow link attribution is now going to be for all links that don’t fit into UGC and sponsored categories. No follow can still be used alongside sponsored or UGC, so you can use rel=”nofollow sponsored” as a link attribution. You should also use no follow attribution if you don’t want Google to associate the link with your site, or if you don’t want it to spend resources crawling that link.
Google is constantly changing its algorithm and ranking signals, so this likely isn’t the last we’ve heard about link attributions from Google. Stay tuned for more to come as Google announces new changes.