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Understanding Nofollow, UGC, and Sponsored Links for SEO

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Last Updated on May 26, 2023

Let’s talk about one of the most important aspects of any online business: Search engine optimization (SEO). As you may know, link building is a crucial part of SEO, but it can be a tricky and constantly changing process. That’s why it’s essential to stay up to date with the latest trends and guidelines. Fortunately, using rel=”nofollow”, rel=”ugc”, and rel=”sponsored” links can make things a lot easier. By using these link attributes, you can protect your website from low-quality or spammy links, and at the same time, make sure you’re following Google’s guidelines for link building.

So, let’s dive deeper into the importance of these three link types and their impact on SEO. We’ll also explore how utilizing these link attributes can boost your website’s ranking and strengthen its online presence. But before we get further into this, we highly suggest taking advantage that we’re providing a FREE SEO Overview Report to help users better understand how their website is performing on search engines.

What are nofollow links?

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Nofollow links are links that have the rel=”nofollow” attribute embedded within them. This attribute functions to signal search engines to disregard the link’s destination and avoid following it. This means that no link juice or authority is passed from the linking page to the linked page.

The concept of nofollow links was first introduced by Google back in 2005 with the primary objective of tackling comment spam on blogs. In those days, spammers utilized automated tools to flood blogs with comments that contained links to their sites, thereby artificially boosting their search engine rankings. By incorporating the rel=”nofollow” attribute, Google could devalue such links and prevent spammers from exploiting them.

Fast forward to the present day, nofollow links are widely used for multiple reasons, including:

User-generated content such as comments posted on a blog or forum thread.

  • Links to paid content or advertisements
  • Links to untrusted or low-quality websites
  • Links to pages that you don’t want to endorse (such as affiliate links)

Why are nofollow links important for SEO?

Despite their lack of link juice, nofollow links remain a critical component of SEO. Here’s why:

  • Spam prevention: As previously mentioned, nofollow links were initially developed to combat comment spam on blogs. By incorporating the rel=”nofollow” attribute into links within user-generated content, you can waive off spammers who seek to leverage your website for building backlinks to their site.
  • Safeguarding website credibility: An abundance of low-quality or spammy links on your website can damage its reputation with search engines. Using nofollow links for questionable or low-quality websites can help shield your website from any association with such sites, thus preserving its credibility.
  • Avoiding penalties: Google has established strict guidelines with regard to link building. Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in penalties. By utilizing nofollow links for paid content or advertising, you can ensure compliance with Google’s policies and avoid any negative consequences.

How to use nofollow links

Using nofollow links is easy. If you want to mark a link as nofollow, it’s as simple as adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute to it. Check it out:

<a href=”https://example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Behold the example link</a>

By adding rel=”nofollow” to the above code, the search engines will know to ignore it. It’s like waving a magic wand and saying “no link juice for you!”

What are UGC links?

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UGC (user-generated content) links are links that have a rel=”ugc” attribute added to them. UGC links are for all the user-generated goodness on your website, like comments and forum posts. By adding rel=”ugc” to these links, you’re letting Google know that they’re not exactly endorsed by you, the website owner.

It’s like putting up a “proceed with caution” sign, letting search engines know that these links might not carry the same weight as those added by the site owner. So go ahead and let your users share their thoughts and opinions – just make sure you add that rel=”ugc” attribute to keep things above board.

UGC links were introduced in 2019 as a way to help website owners comply with Google’s guidelines around link building. While UGC links don’t pass as much link juice as dofollow links, they still contribute to a website’s overall link profile and can help improve its search engine rankings.

Why are UGC links important for SEO?

UGC links can be a game-changer for your website’s link-building strategy, and here’s why:

  • Establishing authority: When users are able to contribute their own content and link to their own websites, it can build a sense of community and establish authority for your website. This is especially true if the content is high-quality and relevant.
  • Enhancing engagement: User-generated content is a great way to increase engagement on your website, which can have a positive impact on your search engine rankings. By encouraging users to contribute, you’re fostering a sense of participation and community.
  • Avoiding penalties: Google has strict guidelines when it comes to link building, and violating these guidelines can result in penalties. By using UGC links for user-generated content, you can ensure that you’re following Google’s guidelines and avoid any penalties for spammy or low-quality links. This can help protect the credibility of your website and ensure that it’s viewed as a trustworthy source of information.

How to use UGC links

Using UGC links is similar to using nofollow links. All you need to do is add the rel=”ugc” attribute to the links you want to mark as UGC. Here’s an example:

<a href=”https://example.com” rel=”ugc”>Example link</a>

In this example, the link to “https://example.com” is marked as UGC by adding the rel=”ugc” attribute.

What are sponsored links?

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Sponsored links are links that have a rel=”sponsored” attribute added to them. Sponsored links are your go-to for any content that you’ve paid or sponsored on a website. To let Google know that certain links are sponsored, simply add the rel=”sponsored” attribute to them. This is an easy and effective way to indicate to search engines that the links are part of an advertising agreement between the website owner and the advertiser.

Sponsored links were introduced in 2019 along with UGC links as a way to help website owners comply with Google’s guidelines around link building. Using sponsored links for paid content or ads can keep you on the right side of Google’s rules and prevent any penalties.

Why are sponsored links important for SEO?

Sponsored links are a crucial aspect of SEO for a number of reasons:

  • Shielding your website’s reputation: If your website has too many unmarked paid or sponsored links, it can negatively impact your website’s reputation with search engines. By utilizing sponsored links, you can safeguard your website from being associated with low-quality or spammy content.
  • Dodging penalties: Google has strict guidelines when it comes to link building. Any violation of these guidelines can result in a penalty. By using sponsored links for paid content or advertisements, you can be certain that you’re adhering to Google’s guidelines and avoiding any penalties.
  • Generating revenue: By allowing paid or sponsored content on your website and using sponsored links, you can generate additional revenue for your business.

How to use sponsored links

Using sponsored links is similar to using nofollow and UGC links. All you need to do is add the rel=”sponsored” attribute to the links you want to mark as sponsored. Here’s an example:

<a href=”https://example.com” rel=”sponsored”>Example link</a>

In this example, the link to “https://example.com” is marked as sponsored by adding the rel=”sponsored” attribute.

Best practices for using nofollow, UGC, and sponsored links

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Now that you know the importance of nofollow, UGC, and sponsored links for SEO, let’s explore some best practices for their use:

  • Reserve nofollow links for pages you don’t want to endorse, untrusted or low-quality websites, and paid content or ads.
  • Use UGC links for user-generated content such as comments on a blog post or forum thread.
  • Use sponsored links for any paid or sponsored content on your website.
  • Make sure to add the correct attribute (rel=”nofollow”, rel=”ugc”, or rel=”sponsored”) to your links.
  • Keep an eye on your website’s link profile to avoid low-quality or spammy links that can harm your search engine rankings.
  • When deciding whether to use nofollow, UGC, or sponsored links, consider the context of the link. Don’t use these link types to manipulate search engine rankings or deceive users.
  • Use a mix of dofollow and nofollow links to create a diverse link profile. This can help create a natural-looking link profile that’s less likely to be penalized by search engines.
  • Keep track of any updates to Google’s guidelines around link building and adjust your strategy accordingly.


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If you’re a website owner looking to build a strong, credible link profile while staying on Google’s good side, nofollow, UGC, and sponsored links are the tools you need. With the help of these link attributes, you can steer clear of penalties associated with low-quality or spammy links. Additionally, using these links can help build a strong community and authoritative presence on your site. Following best practices while utilizing these links and frequently examining your link profile for any problematic links that may negatively affect your SEO is critical. By doing so, you’ll be taking huge strides toward advancing your search engine rankings and directing a larger volume of traffic to your website.

If you need help with any of your SEO needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today for a FREE 15 minute consultation at no obligation. We have over 10+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their results on search engines.

For more information on SEO and other subjects visit our Insights section.

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