A briefing on Using ‘Rel=me’ for SEO

Using 'Rel=me ' to tell Google you are YOU.

As an online brand,  you would ideally want to have control over your brand name search results pages (SERPs). By control I mean all the results on the first page should ideally be your owned entities, whether it is your website or your company social profile pages.

ASOS are a prime example of this. The online fashion powerhouse pretty much owns its brand SERPs (apart from the blended news & Guardian page), as you will see below:

Asos

ASOS brand SERP

Google has little trouble distinguishing that @asos is the genuine ASOS Twitter page because there is an overwhelming number of digital markers indicating that this is the case. The same goes for ASOS’ other profiles that rank on page one. However, not everyone has the authority and following (providing clear digital markers) that ASOS has.

This means that many brands are leaving their digital persona down to Google’s interpretation. Other relevant pages (which you do not control), with content about your brand could creep into your SERP because Google has no confidence that your social entities, are actually your social entities.

A logical way of marrying all your digital entities (website, Twitter, Facebook etc.) together to create your digital brand persona would be to undertake identity consolidation using 'rel=me'.

You may recall that 'rel=me' was prominent in the first verification process for Google authorship. That has since become a much easier process but it’s still worth looking at who uses rel=me and copying their lead.

Use with Twitter

They use rel=me for each profiles bio link.

Twitter relme smartinsights

twitter uses 'rel=me'

It’s also interesting to note that Google does read this link despite it being 'nofollow'. You will often find these links from Twitter appearing in the list of ‘Links to Your Site' in webmaster tools.

Googlewebsterlinkssite

Twitter nofollowed bio links appear in this report

It’s also interesting to read the following quote from the guidelines on ‘nofollow’:

With rel='me nofollow', Google will continue to treat the rel='nofollow' as expected for search purposes, such as not transferring PageRank. However, for the Social Graph API, we will count the rel="me" link even when included with a nofollow.

The Social Graph API is now retired but the takeaway here is that Google will count a 'rel=me' link despite a 'nofollow'.

Use with Google+

Google+ uses 'rel=me' in links to other personal profile pages for identity consolidation, to acquire a digital view of a single person.

Google+relme

Google+ use of “rel=me”

It must be pointed out that rel=me' is not adopted on Google+ business pages.

Summary use of 'rel=me' for SEO

By placing 'rel=me' attributes on all your links to your social media profiles (from your own website), it will help search engines like Google understand and have confidence that your social profiles are actually your brand.

In some cases like Twitter, it will be a bidirectional 'rel=me', giving even more assurance that each of your social profiles are your brand.

This will help search engines have more confidence in ranking your external profiles in your brand SERP, given that they will know that your brands social pages are definitely owned by your brand.

It’s worth noting that this is a work around, and the real purpose of the 'rel=me' relationship attribute is to join up a person’s identity and not a ‘thing’s’ identity (in this case a company / brand). It will be interesting to see if in future, a new brand identity attribute is launched for this exact use, in response to the large adoption of company social media profiles over the last few years.

Jimmy McCann Thanks to Jimmy McCann for sharing his advice and opinions in this post. Jimmy is Head of SEO at Search Laboratory in Leeds. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.



Share your thoughts

  • kiltman commented on June 29, 2016

    Great optimization tips for seo….I have always been confused with the rel=”” tag, this post was clear in its explanation.

  • I’ve just checked out the code for the social profile links at the bottom of this page and despite the advice given above I see that you aren’t using rel=”me”. Nor are they used on the links to the guest author’s social accounts. What’s your current opinion? Worth implementing or not warranted?

  • Tanya commented on May 30, 2015

    I’ve been hearing conflicting resources about the use of rel=”me nofollow” on social medial hyperlinks from yoru website. We syndicate our blog content to our social pages (in addition to posting directly on social), more as a way to drive traffic from social back to our blog. I’ve been told in this case, it’s really important that we use the rel=”me nofollow” on social buttons on our website to let Google know these reference resources owned/controlled by me, but not to pass link juice. I’ve also just heard the opposite, that this is no longer a relevant or current strategy – in otherwords, from an SEO standpoint, it’s a moot point and basically a waste of time. Can anyone shed any light for me?

    • Hi Tanya, yes, like many SEO/social techniques this is open to opinion and interpretation.

      I personally don’t believe it’s important to use nofollow when linking to social network sites through buttons – most sites don’t do this so I would say it’s a waste of time – Google can’t take any action on this.

  • Thanks for this wonderful information as I was not sure that what this rel tag means in SEO

  • Dotti commented on April 6, 2015

    If the information is marked with Schema.org microdata markup, Google is also the author interprets the data.

    • Great Information. However, I can see that google has made a lot of changes these days. Will be waiting for your updated post.

  • Do two way rel=”me” links only work? Google rel=”authorship” needs to be two way but some services might not support rel=”me” yet in their profiles unlike Twitter. I was also looking at source of someone’s homepage and they used a meta tag rel=”me” link to every profile they had in their header. Do on page links that are rel=”me” work better for SEO? Again to these one way meta rel=”me” links help at all to web services that might not link back using rel=”me”?

  • Nadine Benjamin commented on May 18, 2013

    After reading this article I’m not sure that I understand how to include this on a social media outlet.

    • Hanna Downs commented on June 13, 2013

      It is added automatically from most social media platforms.
      They can be added to the links from your website to your social media pages 🙂

    • Just awesome information you’ve shared !!
      Thanks.

    • Harry commented on August 30, 2015

      Thanks for this informative post
      Now I come to know what rel tag means in seo

    • That was something I’ve not been known to yet, Thanks for sharing! Still not that sure how to use it, however !

    • Now this tag got clarified. However, this against rel=”publisher” thing is better or am I still confused?

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