Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links: And Their Impact on SEO Works!

There are many things you can do to boost your site in the rankings. Search Engine Optimization means the sum of these. For those who want to have knowledge in the field of technical SEO, we have prepared a very detailed guide today. Our guide answers a frequently asked question: What do Google’s Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC links mean and how do they affect SEO works?

If you also want to optimize the link building processes, we are sure that you will really like this guide we have created by asking Screpy experts. Ready to get started?

If you are sharing content on your site and you need to link another site within this content, you need to choose the most appropriate one among multiple link structures. Google has a very clear guideline for this. Since the announcements made in 2019, this guideline is quite clear:

Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links and their importance on SEO
Nofollow, Sponsored, & UGC Links and their importance on SEO

You have three different structure alternatives to perform the link attribution operation. The first of these is nofollow links, the second is sponsored links, and the third is UGC links. Each of these will give a different message to Googlebots. If you do not provide any link, you will give a message that the relevant text is not directed to any page.

Until 2019, Google had been working with the following logic: nofollow links were just representing pages related to the content on a site, but Googlebots weren’t follow them while crawling your page. So when you gave these links as nofollow, it did not affect the ranking in any way. Because Google only used them to understand content.

After that, in 2019, SEO experts claimed that these links have cared about the search engines. Google has confirmed this too: Google was using nofollow links to get hints about the content, but at that time, it never admitted that it also crawls or indexes them.

Nofollow links and rankings
Nofollow links and rankings

However, a change from March 1, 2020 has changed the importance of nofollow links. Since then, Google clearly says that it may (and can) follow the link, crawl, and index it even if it is attributed with nofollow link. If Google now sees links marked as nofollow as content-related clues and also crawls the linked site to understand the content, it can be said that a new era has begun in terms of ranking and indexing.

In the past, nofollow links were used for all links that were paid, sponsored, ugc, and untrusted. Ranking, indexing, or crawling was out of the question. Later, even though those who were nofollow would not be crawling or indexing, they started giving important hints to sites and so they became crawlable, in theory. From March 1, 2020, Google announced that it could crawl and index links with nofollow, UGC, and sponsored structures in some cases.

In the past, we said that the nofollow link is used for all link types. But now, you have to use the rel = “sponsored” link for paid link shares. However, if you are creating a link to a site that you sponsor but do not trust, you can combine two different attributes. For example, a link can be created like this: rel = ” nofollow sponsored ”

We know that nofollow links have been used for all link options in the past. But right now, links used for user-generated content must be marked as UGC. Since March 1, 2020, these links have been used for crawling and indexing by Google.

What Do All These Mean?

It is possible to say that Google is not very transparent about something. Didn’t nofollow links really affect rankings by 2020? SEO experts are divided into two on this subject. Although some claim the opposite of Google, they suggest that these links have been used for crawling and indexing so far.

Google Rankings and link attributes
Google Rankings and link attributes

In the past, Google claimed that they did not use nofollow links for crawling at all. Later, Google said these links would be perceived as hints and that they are used by Google to understand the content. Since 2020, Google has officially stated that these links can be used for crawling and indexing -in some cases. But this does not apply to each and every nofollow link. According to Google, sometimes it may prefer this, sometimes it may not.

So what should you do if you are a publisher on a website?

Let’s put it this way: There is currently no optimization Google wants you to do specifically. All you have to do is use the right link attiribute types for the right content.

  1. If you have been charged for a link and are using it for an advertising purpose, you must use a sponsored attribute.
  2. If you use links in areas where users can create content, they should be marked as UGC. However, in WordPress sites, such requirements are carried out automatically (for example, think about the user comment section of a blog page).
  3. If you want a website not to be followed by search engine bots, you should use nofollow. Also, UGC or sponsored link attributes may not be supported by some search engines. In order not to negatively affect the crawling activities of other search engines, it is recommended to combine them with the nofollow attribute when using other attributes.

If you want to create a sponsored link on your WordPress site, you need to choose “This is a sponsored link or advert (mark as sponsored)” option from the menu that will appear after copying the link to the relevant word. You can also check “Search engines should ignore this link (mark as nofollow)” option.

How to create nofollow or sponsored links on WordPress
How to create nofollow or sponsored links on WordPress

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