SlideShare a Scribd company logo
@patrickstox
NOFOLLOW AND UGC AND SPONSORED
OH MY
@patrickstox
Product Advisor, Technical SEO, &
Brand Ambassador at Ahrefs
• I write for Ahrefs blog but have written for many industry publications
in the past
• I speak at some conferences like SMX, Pubcon, UnGagged, TechSEO
Boost
• Organizer for the Raleigh SEO Meetup (most successful in US) and
the Beer & SEO Meetup
• We also run a conference, the Raleigh SEO Conference
• Founder Technical SEO Slack Group (message me for an invite)
• Moderator /r/TechSEO on Reddit
Who is Patrick Stox?
@patrickstox
A Brief History of Nofollow
With The Plot of Some Book/Movie
@patrickstox
In The Beginning
WWW
@patrickstox
Spam
@patrickstox
Google Landed In The Fight
@patrickstox
Everyone wanted Google’s PageRank
PageRank
@patrickstox
The Quest:
Add Nofollow Attributes
@patrickstox
https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/01/preven
ting-comment-spam.html
They Needed Help To Fight The Spam
@patrickstox
https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/01/preventing-
comment-spam.html
Originally to combat comment spam
<a rel="nofollow“ href=“http://abc.com”>don’t trust</a>
Story 408:
Nofollow
@patrickstox
• Brad Fitzpatrick - LiveJournal
Dave Winer - Scripting News
Anil Dash - Six Apart
Steve Jenson - Blogger
Matt Mullenweg - WordPress
Stewart Butterfield - Flickr
Anthony Batt - Buzznet
David Czarnecki - blojsom
Rael Dornfest - Blosxom
Mike Torres - MSN Spaces
Platforms Helped Them
@patrickstox
• Ross Rader - Blogware
John Panzer - AOL Journals
Kevin Marks - of Technorati also added a draft formal spec for nofollow.
Reini Urban - PhpWiki
David Gorman - ModBlog
Arnab Nandi - Drupal
James Tauber - Leonardo
Jeremie Bouillon - points out a GPL plugin for Textpattern
Simon Brown - Pebble
Ilkka Huotari - Netdoc
Shaun Inman - ShortStat
Eaden McKee - bBlog
Yariv Habot - backBlog
John Lyons - enetation
Steven Roussey - Network54
Will Yardley - Dreambook
Samuel Klingen Daams - Travellerspoint
Even More Platforms Helped Them
@patrickstox
SEOs
The Journey Was Fraught With Peril
@patrickstox
Bought And Exchanged Links
@patrickstox
Spammed Article Sites, Directories, Press
Releases, Forum Links and Forum Profile
Links
@patrickstox
PageRank Sculpting
@patrickstox
Widgets And Templates
@patrickstox
Web 2.0 Links And Tiered Linkbuilding
@patrickstox
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2012/04/another-step-to-reward-high-quality.html
Google Fought Back: Penguin
Spam
@patrickstox
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2011/05/more-
guidance-on-building-high-quality.html
More guidance on building high-quality sites (EAT)
Story 408: Recommended Reading
@patrickstox
Some Wizard Guy Sort Of Helped Everyone
@patrickstox
@patrickstox
You Either Die A Hero, Or You Live Long
Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain
@patrickstox
Businesses Shut Down,
SEOs Feared Google
@patrickstox
Links sellers, spam, and fear of penalties
pushed many sites to nofollow all links.
Many Sites Over-Reacted: Sitewide Nofollow
@patrickstox
I’m not going to name names, but this happened in
many niches and many countries.
There were lots of weird Penguin recovery
strategies too.
In Some Cases Nofollowing Outbound Links
Became A Recommended Strategy
@patrickstox
Others Continued In Different Ways
@patrickstox
Redirecting Expired Domains Or Building On
Them
@patrickstox
It was popular especially among affiliates to route
through a path that was blocked from crawling or
use JavaScript.
Hidden Links
@patrickstox
PBNs (Private Blog Networks)
@patrickstox
Guest Posting
@patrickstox
Google Now Penalizing Subdomains Leasing, Not
Just Subfolder Leasing
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-penalizing-
subdomains-leasing-28203.html
Subdomain Leasing
@patrickstox
Some Still Cling To The Old Ways
@patrickstox
Penguin no longer penalizes, it just ignores bad
links
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/09/penguin-is-now-part-of-our-core.html
They were already ignoring signals from many
links like affiliate links which they recommended
people nofollow
Softer, Gentler Google
@patrickstox
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2019/09/evolving-
nofollow-new-ways-to-identify.html
<a rel=“sponsored” href=“http://abc.com”>I bought</a>
<a rel=“ugc” href=“http://abc.com”>It wasn’t me</a>
New Attributes Sponsored And UGC
@patrickstox
rel=“sponsored”
Mark links that are advertisements or paid
placements (commonly called paid links) as
sponsored.
Sponsored
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1224704243543814144
Sponsored Applies To Affiliate Links Also
@patrickstox
rel=“ugc”
We recommend marking user-generated content
(UGC) links, such as comments and forum posts,
as ugc.
UGC
@patrickstox
Within A Day, Barry Already Used The New
Attributes
@patrickstox
Ahrefs Added Support In Less Than 2 Days
@patrickstox
• Completely Ignored
• Was not used for crawling
• Did not pass signals
Nofollow Before For Google
@patrickstox
• PageRank
• Anchor Text
• Surrounding Text
• ???
What Are Signals
@patrickstox
Treated as hints for Ranking
Same with Sponsored and UGC
Nofollow Now
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/nicoleldeleon/status/1225427452912185345
Is Nofollow Used For Ranking Yet?
@patrickstox
Is treated as a hint for crawling and indexing
Since March 1, 2020
Nofollow
@patrickstox
Anchor text likely greater signal gain than PageRank
The crawling and indexing part is even more important
Likely used for better spam identification
Range of values passed. Full, partial, none
Signals Speculation
@patrickstox
I need a rel=“meh” that passes partial signals.
***this is not a thing
What About Something For Those Of Us
That Can’t Decide
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/lilyraynyc/status/1181606837424029697
Google Missing 50% Of The Web
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/Marie_Haynes/status/1181606973004890112
Google Missing 50% Of The Web
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/jenstar/status/1181606557462609920
Google Missing 50% Of The Web
@patrickstox
It had become a common practice to nofollow all
external links.
Wikipedia - 2007
News sites – Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, CNN, NFL
Many sites in certain countries
Why Did They Change Nofollow?
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/JohnMorabitoSEO/status/1181606513732751360
Why Did They Change Nofollow?
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/lilyraynyc/status/1181607939280257024
Kind Google: You Don’t Have To Change
Anything
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/jenstar/status/1181607554725474304
Kind Google: You Don’t Have To Change
Anything
@patrickstox
We Looked At The Top 110k Sites By Ahrefs Rank
*Data from February 2020
https://ahrefs.com/blog/nofollow-ugc-sponsored/
@patrickstox https://ahrefs.com/blog/nofollow-ugc-sponsored/
@patrickstox https://ahrefs.com/blog/nofollow-ugc-sponsored/
@patrickstox https://ahrefs.com/blog/nofollow-ugc-sponsored/
This should be 0
@patrickstox https://ahrefs.com/blog/nofollow-ugc-sponsored/
@patrickstox https://ahrefs.com/blog/nofollow-ugc-sponsored/
@patrickstox
Websites are adopting ugc and sponsored
Websites are likely overusing nofollow on external
and internal links
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/facan/status/1171477716673032192
Like Before, Partners Will Help Drive
Adoption
Bing
@patrickstox
Like Before, Partners Will Help Drive Adoption
We looked at the CMS used on 7,130 of the sites
@patrickstox
Added ugc in 5.3
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/wordpress-rel-nofollow-
ugc/329109/
WordPress
@patrickstox
Without any incentives or penalties, adoption will
likely be slow
This Might Take A While
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/GregGifford/status/1225427845759094785
Or Not:
@patrickstox
https://twitter.com/jesseseogeek/status/1225428039867215872
Google: Good SEOs, Here’s A Carrot
@patrickstox
What Else Should You Know
@patrickstox
rel=“nofollow ugc” – forum comments, blog
comments
rel=“ugc sponsored” – advertorials, paid guest
posts
You Can Use More Than One Attribute
@patrickstox
According to the HTML spec, they should use a
space to separate.
Google will handle spaces, commas, and other
punctuation.
Rel Attributes Are Parsed With Flexible
Standards
@patrickstox
You can’t use these new attributes at a page level
like you could with nofollow. They apply as
attributes on specific links.
<a rel=“nofollow,ugc,sponsored” href=“https://abc.com”>attributes can be added
here</a>
& <link rel=“alternate nofollow ugc”
Not Here: <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow,ugc,sponsored"/>
Tip: Don’t Confuse Link Attribute & Meta
Robots
@patrickstox
Delete
Password Protection
Noindex (but not in robots.txt)
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6062602
Don’t Use Nofollow To Block Pages From
Being Indexed
@patrickstox

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Nofollow UGC Sponsored SEOFromHome Patrick Stox Ahrefs

Editor's Notes

  1. 408 = request timeout
  2. 408 = request timeout
  3. Orca, because whales eat penguins. It involved some redirects
  4. Sculpt pagerank, block indexing