Links ~ Deciding on the Correct Attributes

This post has been written to be read along side my post all about having sponsored content on your site. So read that first.

I am assuming you know how to add URL links – taking the reader to other sites – within your blog posts…


In this post I will discuss how you decide to qualify those links to other sites. That is, how and why you assign particular attributes to a link. This is most important if you have been paid to publish the post where the link appears.

Links within a blog post

The topic of link attributes can be a little contentious. The only reason it’s an important issue is because if you are placing links in a post you are being paid for then you need to make sure google do not penalise you by viewing the link as a scheme to manipulate page ranking in anyway.

Google rules change every 12 months or so on various online topics. Which means I don’t know how long this information will be current. But it is the latest I can find – initiated about a year ago and updated February this year. I have personally been using and recommending similar criteria to this for the last 6 months. The main change was google introduced a new link attribute called sponsored.

A link can be assigned one or more attributes. I am going to use Gary Barlow’s upcoming tour as in example link in this explanation. For no particular reason 😉

Ordinary Link

If you are linking to a fellow blogger or a site you totally recommend and endorse then it is a no fuss, no added attribute needed for the link.

For example, if I was a Gary Barlow fan and wanted to tell you on my blog when he was going on tour.

The HTML code behind the link above looks like this –

<a href=””>on tour</a>

Notice in the code the link is placed over the – on tour – phrase.

No Follow Link

If I really was not keen on Mr Barlow and wanted to tell you to steer clear of his tour.

The code behind the phrase steer clear of his tour looks like this –

<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>steer clear of his tour</a>

You do not want to promote this page so the attribute relationship (rel) is nofollow.

*If you look carefully you can see the actual URL followed by the rel attribute – in this case it is nofollow – and then the bit of narrative the link was attached to.

Sponsored Link

However, if you liked Gary and he came across your blog and said he would pay you to write a post for him about how wonderful the tour was going to be…

The HTML behind the link would look like this –

<a href=”” rel=”sponsored”>how wonderful the tour</a>

However... if you didn’t like him and would not really want your site to be endorsing the tour to others, but was still happy to host a post from him and take his money, then you would add nofollow to that link attribute. Then it would look like this with two attributes-

<a href=”” rel=”sponsored nofollow”>how wonderful the tour</a>

This is clearly stating you are being paid to host the post but don’t really recommend it.

Other link Attributes

In the olden days the “sponsored” attribute did not exist. All links in paid content were nofollow. Which always seemed weird to me as usually if I allow a sponsored post on my site I have checked the company out and like them.

Before the block editor a blogger would need to add their own nofollow attribute by viewing and editing their post’s HTML. The present block editor gives you some attribute options to tick when you add a link. It looks like this –

Figure 1

But I find there are a few problems with this. For instance, if you decide to open the link in a new tab (noopener attribute) it automatically adds a no-referer attribute to the link as well. This basically means you do not want the site you are linking realising the click through is coming from your blog. However, if I have hosted a sponsored post I want the company to be able to see if the traffic is coming from Sex Matters.

The block editor also automatically ticks the nofollow box if you want to use sponsored. Originally, the block editor did not make these decisions for you. So I am unsure if it is a bug and will change back to letting you make your own decisions. So, at present when I am using a paid link I code it myself.

Of course you don’t have to do this you can leave your paid link containing the sponsored and nofollow attributes. It is your call.

Coding your sponsored link

As there is only so much time in a day I am going to assume that most of you use the block editor. If you dont’ I expect you will be thinking of changing over shortly. TBH I use the classic editor block within the block editor. Then convert to blocks before I publish. Many themes now prefer the block style. Also, the HTML will look exactly the same in the traditional classic editor. So if you are still using the traditional one you will be able to adapt the following instructions to tweak your code if you wish to add a link attribute via HTML.

When I want to make sure I have my paid post link attributes correct I use a paragraph block. Then tweak via my HTML… like this –


I write my sentence then add the link over the writing as in figure 1 above. I click sponsored but the nofollow ticks automatically. So then I get rid of the nofollow via changing my html code like this …


Click anywhere within the block where your sentence is written containing the link.  The block header menu will appear above the block.

Click on the three vertical dots. A drop down appears with a few options. One being Edit as HTLM.

Click on that option. See image below.


This is what you will see in HTML. Don’t worry about the surrounding code just concentrate on the rel=



It is easy to spot the sponsored and nofollow attributes. Simply edit and delete the word nofollow. So it looks like this



Then click anywhere within that box to get your block header menu up. Click on the vertical three dots and the drop down will now show the option to Edit visually. Click on that…


Your screen returns to normal and now you have your link as sponsored only.

Google has the final say

Here is what google say about link attributes…

The web has evolved since nofollow was introduced in 2005 and it’s time for nofollow to evolve as well.

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="nofollow": Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.

Any link that is clearly an ad or sponsored should use sponsored or nofollow, as described above. Using sponsored is preferred, but nofollow is acceptable.

 Header image adapted from Pixabay…

6 thoughts on “Links ~ Deciding on the Correct Attributes

  1. Blimey, this is much more in depth than I thought (I see “code” and I want to run away) However, I have plenty of practise coming up.

    If I am sharing links to my friends website , which is also a shop, but they aren’t paying me, it’s just a recommendation, under the current guidelines, will google see that as a red flag that I’m not attributing them as a sponsored post? If so, should I add a nofollow link to keep my site safe from being seen as breaking the rules?

    1. If they are not paying you then it is not a sponsored link so it is up to you if u want to treat it as a nofollow. I expect if you are showering your blog with their URL it would be best to do so – but if u are just mentioning them once or twice then a normal link would suffice. I know u are using the traditional classic editor so please DM if u need further help
      May x

  2. I’ve made the switch to block editor, and now this makes total sense! Thank you so much for putting this together May x

    1. Ah – great u have changed – u can still pick the “classic” block when u want to. I often do the post in classic block then press the “convert to blocks” option b4 I publish.
      May x

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