What is a link attribute?
HTML links can have one of four attributes:
‘sponsored’ and ‘ugc’ are new, having been introduced by Google in September of this year (2019). Most of the time when publishing content the publisher will be concerned with the ‘nofollow’ and ‘dofollow’ link attributes.
A link attribute is a parameter to an html element.
In practice a ‘nofollow’ link attribute looks like this:
When To Use nofollow
Links that have the rel=”nofollow” property send a signal to Google. They tell Google that the page being linked probably isn’t authoritative. The link might be paid for. It might be an add. It might have been added by a website user (for example, a blog comment). It might simply link to content that you want users to be aware of, but that you don’t endorse.
‘nofollow’ is used to tell Google: “when you calculate the value of the current page, do not take into account the particular page that this link leads to”.
When To Use dofollow Links
Links that are dofollow links are taken into account by Google when Google calculates the authority of your page. That is, when Google calculates how well your page provides context and information to a particular topic.
Any links that do not use a rel attribute are counted as dofollow links. You don’t actually have to create the dofollow property manually. You just have to leave the link as is.
New Attribute: sponsored
Exactly what they sound like: links with rel=”sponsored” are paid for. They are not earned naturally.
This attribute is new as of Septempber 2019 and provides further context for the Googlebot. Some links that were nofollow can now be sponsored.
New Attribute: ugc
For user generated content.
Some links that are now nofollow can now be ugc. Again, this gives Google more context about your content, allowing Google to more intelligently calculate the value of the content on your page, and it’s relationship to the ecosystem in which it is linked.
Google Admits Counting nofollow Links
In theory nofollow links carried no authority in Googles calculations. At least according to Google. In practice they kind of did: Google paid attention to nofollow links. Probably because a nofollow links are part of the natural link profile of a page.
Interestingly Googles announcement about the new attributes carried this statement:
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.
This is an admission that Google will consider nofollow links its calculations. Even if they most probably don’t carry link authority in the same way that dofollow links do.