Should You Use rel=ugc Link Attribute In Guest Post Links?

We recently included a guest post on GrowTraffic and we tagged up the outgoing links with them fairly new link attribute rel=”ugc”. This triggered an email from the author asking for my thoughts on the use of the new link attributes.

Here is the question (which I’ve rewritten slightly for the purposes of anonymity) and my thinking on using rel=”ugc” for links in guest posts.

The question:

I see you’ve used the UGC tag on the links within the blog. I’d really appreciate it if you can be give me your feelings about where things are going with guest posting and if the UGC tag will be part of that?

Aren’t UGC tags for things like comments, which is less easily controlled by the website owner? I’m asking because I’m increasingly seeing the UGC tag being used on guest posts.

Has Google clarified how they value the UGC tags in more details yet?

From what I’ve read, the UGC tags mean that Google might make those links less valuable and with the amount of time it takes to write guest posts it’s probably going to make it an unsustainable tactic.

With UGC being so new it’s great to get different opinions about what the future is with the new link attributes.

I spent a bit of time thanking the writer for the contribution, explaining I thought they’d written a good piece of content and letting the writer know I appreciate them taking the time to write it for our audience.

Here’s my response to his question:

Google has updated the guidelines about guest posts and as from 1st March 2020, the rel=”ugc” link attribute is a useful tool to let Google know the link is part of User Generated Content, however, Google has let it be known that they will use it as part of their crawling and indexing processes and that they’ll use it as part of their ranking factors.

Now, they’ve always said that they will treat rel=”ugc” as a ‘hint’ but that’s better than how they say they use rel=”nofollow” which they always previously maintained doesn’t help with rankings, and which should be used for sponsored, UGC and untrusted links. But we’ve known for years that rel=”nofollow” links are essential, at least because they demonstrate that a backlink profile is genuine and arguably because they do in fact have an influence on rankings. I think the rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc” attributes will only add to this.

On top of that, Google has been getting loads better at working out which blogs are guest blogs and just discounting the links anyway just in case, so I think it’s got to be better if we include the rel=”ucg” attribute for links in guest blogs to protect both the site the content is being placed on and the site the link is pointing to. And it’s less likely the link will be completely discounted as it may have been before.

Was I to write a guest post, I’d expect it to have the appropriate markup for any links back to my own content if I’d inserted them, even if that does mean potentially decreasing the link equity the piece passes on.

Here’s a handy image from Moz.com demonstrating what the changes have meant during the implementation period and what they mean from the 1st March 2020:

The Impact Of New Link Attributes On SEO

To conclude, there has been an absolutely massive proliferation in guest posting over the last decade and it’s something that is a core part of GrowTraffic’s services and something that I’ve spent a lot of my time as an SEO consultant doing. But if it’s getting to the point where Google has introduced a new link attribute to help them sift through the content you’ve got to ask yourself about the longevity of this kind of tactic. it suggests to me that there will be penalties coming the way of those websites who don’t conform and I for one don’t want to have a Google penalty slapped on me for letting someone else contribute something to our audience – no matter how well written and insightful it is.

My advice – if you’re accepting a guest blog, use the rel=”ugc” link attribute, unless you really know the author well and trust everything they’re about, and really think the content you’re linking to is extra special and deserves it.

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