Google has added two link attributes that will be treated as hints to consider for ranking purpose. “Sponsored” and “ugc” will join “nofollow”. You would use rel=”sponsored” to identify a link as a part of an advertising or sponsorship. rel=”ugc” will be used to identify a link that is within comments or any other user-generated content. 

Why the need to change?

The shift to the hint model is done to decide how to treat the particular link as opposed to ignoring it. Links carry information that is valuable to improve search and the new ‘hint model’ would prevent them from losing such information. All the attributes would help Google understand the nature of the content the links point to and in identifying unnatural linking patterns. 

What do you need to know?

No need to change that nofollow links you already have as Google will continue to support it. You are still free to use nofollow for flagging links related to sponsorships and ads to avoid link scheming penalties. Google, however, recommends you to use “sponsored” attributes when it’s appropriate. You can use more than one rel value like “ugc sponsored” to indicate sponsored links within comments. Google states that there is technically no wrong way of using the attributes. Except when you add “sponsored” to comment or any other ugc that was not an ad or sponsored link. In such a case the links would not be counted as a credit for the particular page. 

When would the attributes come into effect? 

Nofollow link attribute will be considered for ranking purpose from 1st March 2020. The new link attributes, “sponsored” and “ugc” will be considered as hints starting today.