New ways to identify the nature of links
In the past, we only had nofollow and noindex to identify the links used in the website, and nofollow link is widely used for flagging those links you do not want to pass the link juice or ranking credit to, such as in forums and advertising-related external link etc.
Currently, Google suggests that these new link attributes have come to effect. These more precise links attributes will help Google to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within Google Search system.
The new rel values are as follow:
rel="sponsored": Use the sponsored attribute to identify links on your website that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.
rel="ugc": UGC stands for User Generated Content. The ugc attribute value is therefore recommended for links within user generated content, such as comments and forum posts.
rel="nofollow": Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.
Remember all the link attributes - sponsored, UGC and nofollow - are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Google Search. And Google will not ignore nofollow, in case it will lose any valuable content behind the link, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given any endorsement.
How to use these new attributes to identify the nature of links?
First of all, please note that you do not have to change any of your existing nofollow attributes in your website. Even though you are using nofollow for sponsored links, Google confirmed that no changes need to be done. The links flagged as sponsored and nofollow, neither of which would be counted as credit for another page.
Besides, you can either use one of them or use more than one rel value on a link. For example, rel="ugc sponsored" is a perfectly valid attribute which hints that the link came from user-generated content and is sponsored. It is also valid to use nofollow with the new attributes, such as rel="nofollow ugc", if you wish to be backwards-compatible with services that don’t support the new attributes.
The best practice is to use the rel value according to the content type, and make distinction between passing link credit or not. As we mentioned above, links marked as sponsored and nofollow both of which are considered as no link credit will be passed, but UGC link is in the opposite.
How can I benefit from those link attributes?
Mainly, those rel values work as hints for Google to better understand your links and content.
Moreover, nofollow attribute will help you avoid possible link scheme penalties in some cases.
Last but not the least, Google always focuses on users, so they support whatever content is good for the users. Thus, if you have some user-generated content on your website, its links should be flagged as rel="ugc".