Everything you need to know about Google’s new link building policy in 2020

3 min read


Last year Google announced in a blog post that they were changing the way they recognize links. Google released two new link attributes which will play a major role in link building.

The two new attributes are sponsored and UGC( User-generated content):

rel=”sponsored”: Use the sponsored attribute to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.

rel=”ugc”: UGC stands for User Generated Content, and the ugc attribute value is recommended for links within user generated content, such as comments and forum posts.

Let’s talk about the current way link building works

A while back we published an article on “The Most Straight Forward Way To Link Building”  and in that article we emphasized the importance of building “follow links” only.

The more dofollow links you can get the better your search rankings. This still applies even with Google’s new link building policy.

Now here’s how things are different with the new policy. When you are link building, Google wants you to nofollow guest posting or “paid links” because they don’t think you should be leveraging tactics like guest posting to manipulate rankings.

Google is smart

Google can easily identify when a post on these big news sites aren’t earned because many of them have signs all over them that Google can detect.

Nobody knows exactly how their detection system works, but most people believe that they have a very complex system in place that detects certain keywords such as “contributor”. Most of these appear in the bio of guest posts and can be easily detected by Google.

Google can use other signals to figure out that this link shouldn’t be given much ranking when it comes to SEO just by reading the URL structure of guest post articles, so be careful with those.

Sponsored links

Basically, Google wants all “paid links” to be marked as sponsored using their new sponsored tag.

In addition to that if you build links through user-generated content, they want you to mark the links with the attribute:


This also applies to people who run niche sites and communities. Google is starting to require that you add the UGC tag to all user generated posts. For example, if you run a stock trading forum, all the post within the forum should be labeled under UGC.

Another thing you could do is mix in the tags. For the sponsored tag example, you can combine it with no follow. Adding the sponsored tag to no follow will give Google more information about your posts.

What’s the point and take away from these changes?

This change goes into effect March 1, 2020, and don’t worry because you don’t have to make modifications to your old links. The ones that were nofollow can just be left as nofollow.

This is a better way for Google to understand your content and whether or not they should put more weight into it.

When nofollow was introduced, Google would not count any link marked this way as a signal to use within our search algorithms. This has now changed.

All the link attributes — sponsored, UGC and nofollow — are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. Google will 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 why UGC links will be important when it comes to link building. Google loves to put weight on websites that regular visitors visit often and love. This is also why you see a lot of top websites like Quora rank pretty well because most of it is user generated content and questions. Google loves that.

What does this mean for link building?

We would recommend is that you continue to build as many links as possible, even if they are user-generated links. As long as they are from relevant sites, the referral traffic can generate you sales or leads. And if Google starts placing some value on these user-generated links, it can help boost your rankings.

This also means that the future of user-generated content websites might be a strong location to look into for link building and should be a heavy part of your link building strategy. This does not mean that you should go to random forums in your industry to spam links and signatures, but contributing here and there while doing some commenting will pay off in the long term. If anything, you’ll gain some decent awareness from it.

Now we also predict that most people won’t catch on this effect this early. It might take a year or two for companies to catch onto this, but our advice is to start building links around those new tags as well. Be an early adopter and dominate the search in the long term!

If you’re looking for custom link building campaigns to supercharge your organic rankings, then reach out to us and we’ll take good care of you!

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