Remember Rel= Tags

Remember Rel= Tags

Understanding Rel Tags | Blueprint

Rel= tags are SEO elements that when used properly, can help you provide important information to search engine crawlers. Unfortunately, rel= tags are often forgotten, creating missed opportunities in terms of taking control of a site’s pages.

In this post, I will share with you what rel= tags are and how they can be used in specific situations to benefit your SEO campaign.

What are Rel= Tags?

Rel= tags are components of HTML that describe a relationship between pages of a site. These components affect the site’s linking structure. Because links are a huge contributing factor to search engine algorithms, taking advantage of rel= tags will only help one’s ranking potential.

Rel= tags live in the backend of a site, attached to the links they are providing “instructions” for. That way, when search engines crawl the site, they are able to identify your intentions regarding particular links.

Rel= tags look a little something like this:

<a href=”link” rel=”attribute”>

There is a wide variety of rel attributes that you can use to provide “instructions” for a site’s links to search engines. Below are a few examples of rel attributes that can be used to accomplish different goals.

Rel Attribute Examples

  • Canonical| This rel attribute is used for content purposes. The canonical attribute can minimize the amount of duplicate content a site is considered to possess. By using canonical attributes, you are able to designate a particular page within a series as the main focus. Because of this, canonical attributes are often used in sites that contain multiple pages within the same category, like e-commerce sites.

For example, e-commerce sites often have a category devoted to “Best Sellers.” In this case, a canonical attribute can be used to designate the “Best Sellers” page as the main focus, eliminating the possibility of “Best Sellers Page 2” and so on to be considered by search engines as the original source.

Additionally, the canonical attribute is a wonderful tool to use for preserving your own content. Apply a canonical attribute to the content you develop in order to maintain its originality in an instance where it may get swiped.

<a href=”best sellers link” rel=”canonical”>
  • Previous, Next | These rel attributes are used in conjunction with canonical attributes. Where categories with multiple pages exist, previous and next attributes can help point search engine crawlers in the direction of the canonical URL, or the original source. These attributes help with pagination. What this means is, previous and next attributes inform search engine crawlers of where they are located in relation to the canonical URL.

For example, page 3 in a series of “Best Sellers” would look like this:

<a href=”best sellers link” rel=”canonical”>
<a href=”best sellers page 2 link” rel=”prev”>
<a href=”best sellers page 4 link” rel=”next”>
  • Nofollow | This rel attribute is used when informing search engine crawlers which links on a page you don’t want to “endorse.” Again, links are a large component of search engine algorithms so using this attribute is helpful in providing information to search engine crawlers. You may have situations in which you don’t want to pass credit to a link in order to avoid penalizations or spammy content.

These situations might include:

  • paid ads
  • guest comments
  • embeds

Use the nofollow attribute when linking to sites that you may not necessarily trust.

<a href=”link” rel=”nofollow”>
  • Alternate | This rel attribute is particularly useful in situations where you have multiple versions of the same page. For example, a site may have a page that contains a printer-friendly version of the same content. Additionally, a site may have pages that also exist in another language. Use the alternate attribute to inform search engine crawlers of the fact that multiple versions of the same content exist for a good reason.
<a href=”link” rel=”alternate”>

Rel= Takeaways

Rel= tags describe relationships of links and pages within a site. The attributes that are used in conjunction with rel= tags provide “instructions” to search engines in order to obtain specific goals. Together, rel= tags and their attributes are extremely useful tools, especially for an SEO campaign. Remember your rel= tags!

By: Elizabeth Weaver
  • Chuniq Inpower

    HTML has evolved much from the days of coding social media sites with cool auto-play videos and photo sliders! Rel = tags seem to keep your site organized and should be mastered to help crawlers properly index your page. Very useful guide!

  • Samantha Torres

    The use of canonical tags is extremely important for making sure your content gets crawled and attributed the way it was intended. I like the breakdown you give on some of the rel attribute options . Using the pagination (next, prev) tags are a MUST for any ecommerce site!

    • Great point Sam! Pagination is extremely important and seems like a forgotten related tag.

  • Patrick Price

    Rel = tags helps with organization on your website for sure. I remember Elizabeth mentioning canonical Rel = Tags give websites a chance to cut down on duplicate content especially E-commerce websites. We all try to stay far away from duplicate content so this is just another way a company can make sure their products or information are being seen by prospective buyers.

  • Naima

    Real tags are very useful in providing information about your website to search engines and can make a big difference when it comes to reducing duplicate content or disregard negative links. Most people are not taking advantage of these tags simply because they are unaware of them or don’t know how to implement them. Great article Liz!

  • Jeff Cline

    Great post. So many times people forget the various code elements that can make an impact on site ranking.

  • Thanks for this helpful “behind the scenes” information. The nofollow rel tag is especially important for dealing with that nemesis of good SEO – Spammy Links! Spammy Links sounds like a nefarious character in a crime novel but in reality is something your business should avoid at all costs.

    • Victoria Vener

      I agree. I’m so glad I know about the nofollow rel tag now. When writing for the web, I sometimes feel that my reader would benefit from additional information from an external source, but I’ve always been afraid to link to it for fear of accidentally coming across as spammy. This rel tag can allow me to direct my readers to a relevant outside source without fear.

  • Adam Baxter

    Very cool! Its awesome to see that our team is so well versed in the various components of search marketing. Great Job!

  • Joshua Bains

    Everyone should care about rel= tags because they give credit where credit is due.