All about rel attributes - best practices and common mistakes

Are you wondering what the rel attributes in HTML are and how to use them? Whether you’re a webmaster, a content creator, or just someone who wants to know more about web technologies such as HTML and SEO, this article is for you.

We will explore the different types of rel attributes and discuss the best practices for using them. We will also look into some common mistakes people make when using these attributes.

What is a rel attribute?

A rel attribute is an HTML attribute that specifies the relationship between two pieces of content.

The structure of a clickable links looks like this in most cases, if there's nothing special to add:

link text

But if you need to, this is how you add the rel attribute to define your relationship to other content,

>link text

Here are the most common rel attributes according to Google's documentation:

rel="nofollow" -- when you'd rather Google not associate your site with, or crawl the linked page from, your site.

rel="sponsored" -- for paid links, advertisements or paid placements.

rel="ugc" -- for user generated content, such as comments and forum posts

rel="nofollow" -- tell search engines that the link should not be followed when crawling the web.

rel="canonical" -- to consolidate the signals of multiple pages into a single, preferred URL.

For multiple attributes, you can keep a space in between or add a comma, such as:

rel="ugc,nofollow" or rel="ugc nofollow"

When used correctly, rel attributes can be very beneficial for both SEO and usability. However, there are a few common mistakes that are often made when using these attributes.

Mistakes when applying rel attributes

One mistake is using too many different relationships on a single page. This can make your code difficult to read and understand, and can also create confusion for search engines. If you want to use multiple rel attributes on a single page, it's best to keep them grouped together so that they're easy to identify.

Another mistake is using outdated relationships. For example, the relationship "nofollow" was once used for paid links. However, now google prefers using "sponsored" for such links.

Recently, it is common to see "canonical" value for syndicated content. Remember, only the source need to add "canonical", all the rest should not.

Best practices for using rel attributes

Understand the basic rules of rel attributes as mentioned above, and avoid using the wrong attributes. If you wish for Google's best result, then follow Google's set rules is the best advice.

1. Google Search Central, Qualify your outbound links to Google
2. Google Search Central, How to specify a canonical with rel="canonical" and other methods
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