Five possible uses for a relative attribute tag or rel tag

Let’s start this post with a minor clarification.  The relevance attribute or “rel” tag basically defines the relationship between the current document and a linked document.  For example, say I have two html pages, cookies.html and milk.html.  I decide to link the cookies.html page to the milk.html page, hence fulfilling the current document and linked document requirement.  When linking the cookies page to the milk page the code on the cookies page will traditionally look something like this in standard html:

<a href=/milk.html>Milk</a>

Milk is the word that displays to the web user.  Just as “href” is an attribute the same is true for the “rel” attribute.  Href tells “Milk” where to go when the user clicks on the link and Rel describes the relationship between milk and cookies, which we can all agree is pretty darn good.  With a “rel” tag, the same link may look like this:

<a rel=”friend” href=/milk.html>Milk</a>

This makes the assumption that Cookies and Milk are friends.  Why include a “rel” tag?  For one, it’s great for classifying content and styling links.  Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! will refer to rel tags to get more information about a link for search engine optimization or SEO.  Browsers support rel tags but do not use the attribute in any way.

Below is a list of different relevance tag values and what they do.  Each can impact SEO in its own way.

Rel=”author” Designates the author of the linked content.  Commonly used to identify and sort stories written by a specified individual or “author”.  Find this tag in the attribute tag for a hyperlink.  Must point to an author page on the same site as the content page.From the content page:<a rel=”author” href=””>Read more about the Author</a>
Rel=”me” Similar to the author tag, this is commonly used to connect author profiles of multiple website author pages.  Find this tag in the attribute tag for a hyperlink to an author page.From author page to author page:<a rel=”me” href=””>This author has also contributed here</a>
Rel=”canonical” Designates the page as a copy of a main page.  Commonly used with category URLs, print only URLs and session ID URLs.  Find this tag in the HTML header with the Title attribute and Meta Description tag.  Must point to content on the same site as the linking page.<head><link rel=”canonical” href=””/></head>
Rel=”nofollow” Typically used to ask Google (and Google specifically) not to follow the designated link.  Commonly used with paid links.  Find this tag in the attribute tag for a hyperlink.From the linking content page:<a rel=”nofollow” href=””>Click Here To Buy A Car</a>
Rel=”stylesheet” Designates an external stylesheet for the document.  Find this tag in the HTML header with the Title attribute and Meta Description tag.<head><link rel=”stylesheet” href=”newdesign.css”/></head>


Almost twenty additional rel tag options exist, but the rel tags listed above will make the biggest impact on search engine optimization or SEO.

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