UGC, or “user-generated content”, is content created by users, such as comments, reviews, and forum chats. Reddit as a website is essentially one giant example of UGC!
However, user-generated content has, in the past, been manipulated by black hat SEOs to gain spammy back links. For instance, if the Times wrote an article, and there was a comments section beneath, black hat SEOs might include a link in that comments section to their target website, in the hopes of stealing link juice from the Times website. There’s no quality control in this kind of link building, as no one at the Times has done a quality assessment on the linked to website. As such, Google requests web publishers to use the UGC tag across all links in their comments sections, so that they don’t pass link juice through them.
While both UGC tags and NoFollow tags tell search engines to pay less attention to any given link, there are differences between the two.
UGC tags are used to identify user-generated content links. They signal to search engines that the linked content is generated by users and may not necessarily reflect the website owner’s opinion. UGC tags are generally recommended for any links that originate from user-contributed content, including comments, reviews, and forum posts.
NoFollow tags ask search engines not to follow a specific link or attribute ranking value to it. These tags are usually found on generic untrusted links. Google does still attribute some benefit to NoFollow links, saying that it views them as hints – i.e. if you use NoFollow on a link, you will likely still pass a small amount of link juice through it.
Implementing UGC Tags
HTML Markup: Use the rel attribute with the value “ugc” to designate a link as user-generated content. For example:
UGC Tag Placement: Place the UGC tag within the anchor tag surrounding the user-generated content link. This ensures search engines correctly interpret the link’s nature.
Consistency: Be consistent in your usage of UGC tags across different types of user-generated content on your website. Apply the UGC tag to comments, reviews, forum posts, and any other areas where users contribute content.