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How rel attributes in HTML affect SEO?

Table of Contents

The rel attribute in HTML elements, particularly within the <a> and <link> tags can have a significant impact on search engine optimization (SEO). Several rel values directly influence how search engines understand and treat links. Here are the most relevant rel values that affect SEO:

canonical

  • Description: Indicates the preferred version of a page when duplicate versions of a page exist.
  • Usage: Helps search engines understand which version of a page to index and rank, preventing duplicate content issues.
  • Example:
    html <link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/preferred-url/">

nofollow

  • Description: Instructs search engines not to follow the link or pass “PageRank” (or its equivalent) to the linked page.
  • Usage: Useful for user-generated content, paid links, or any link you don’t necessarily trust or endorse.
  • Example:
    html <a href="https://external-site.com" rel="nofollow">External Site</a>

noopener

  • Description: Prevents the new page from being able to access the window object of the originating page, enhancing security. While not directly an SEO attribute, it’s often used alongside noreferrer.
  • Example:
    html <a href="https://external-site.com" rel="noopener">External Site</a>

noreferrer

  • Description: Prevents the browser from sending the referring URL to the new page. It implicitly includes the noopener behaviour in modern browsers.
  • Usage: While its main purpose is privacy, it can also affect how traffic sources are reported, which might be considered in an SEO context.
  • Example:
    html <a href="https://external-site.com" rel="noreferrer">External Site</a>

prev and next

  • Description: Used to indicate the relationship between component URLs in paginated series.
  • Usage: Helps search engines understand the structure of paginated content.
  • Example:
    html <link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/page-1/"> <link rel="next" href="https://example.com/page-3/">

alternate

  • Description: Indicates alternate versions of content, such as mobile-friendly or translated versions.
  • Usage: Useful for indicating mobile versions or different language variants of the same content.
  • Example:
    html <link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="mobile-page.html">

external

  • Description: Indicates that the linked content is external to the current site.
  • Usage: Its impact on SEO is not explicitly documented, but it can be used for semantic clarity.

ugc (User Generated Content)

  • Description: Introduced by Google, this value indicates links within user-generated content, like comments and forum posts.
  • Usage: Helps Google identify and treat links that you don’t editorially vouch for.
  • Example:
    html <a href="https://external-site.com" rel="ugc">Link from user comment</a>

sponsored

  • Description: Indicates that the link is an advertisement, sponsorship, or other compensation agreement.
  • Usage: Directs search engines to not consider this link for ranking purposes.
  • Example:
    html <a href="https://external-site.com" rel="sponsored">Ad Link</a>

rel attributes in HTML affect SEO
rel attributes in HTML affect SEO
Amerseo

Amerseo

SEO professional since 2016 in the field
Experienced in optimizing websites for search engines to improve visibility and ranking.

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