What Is A Link Relationship (XFN) In WordPress?

XFN™ (XHTML Friends Network) is a simple way to represent human relationships using hyperlinks. It uses the rel attribute in HTML tags, often used in hyperlinks (ie. “<a href>”). What’s with the trademark?  The  Link relationship (XFN) stands for XHTML Friends Network. Global Multimedia Protocols Group made and maintains the XFN standards. XFN uses hyperlinks to represent real-world human relationships between individuals such as friends, relatives, contributors and colleagues.

When the website creator includes XFN information, it enables both people and search engines to interpret and establish more meaningful connections between websites and individuals. Incorporating XFN links on your website can potentially enhance its search engine optimization (SEO).

List of XFN values that you can use

There are more relationships that you can use besides a friend and those the creator may have  met in real life. This is a full list of XFN link relationships values available.

Some descriptions of the XFN relationships can be found at the XFN Getting Started page.


Use this if the link is to another of your own websites. This relationship is exclusive of all others.


These radio buttons allow you to specify one of four different types of friendships:

  • acquaintance – Someone with whom you have exchanged greetings and not much (if any) more — maybe a short conversation or two.
  • contact – Someone with whom you know how to get in touch.
  • friend – Someone you consider a friend. A compatriot, buddy, home(boy|girl) that you know.
  • none – Use this if you want to leave the friendship category blank.


Use the met element in the rel attribute if this is someone whom you have actually met in person. With the prevalence of online relationships, this can be an important distinguishing element.


  • co-worker – Someone with whom you work or someone who works at the same organization as you.
  • colleague – Someone in the same field of study or activity.


  • co-resident – Someone with whom you share a street address. A roommate. A Flatmate. A member of your family living in the same home.
  • neighbor – Someone who lives nearby, perhaps only at an adjacent street address or doorway.
  • none – Use this if you want to leave the geographical category blank.


Six options specify your familial relationship.

  • child – Your genetic offspring. Or someone that you have adopted and take care of.
  • kin – A relative. Someone you consider part of your extended family.
  • parent – Your progenitor. Or someone who has adopted and takes care (or took care) of you.
  • sibling – Someone with whom you share a parent.
  • spouse – Someone to whom you are married.
  • none – Use this if you want to leave the family category blank.


Use these four option to define how “romantically” related the subject is to the author of the site.

  • muse – Someone who brings you inspiration.
  • crush – Someone on whom you have a crush.
  • date – Someone you are dating.
  • sweetheart – Someone with whom you are intimate and at least somewhat committed, possibly exclusively.

Other Ways to Use the rel Attribute

The `rel` attribute in HTML (short for “relationship”) is commonly used in various HTML elements, such as links and meta tags, to specify the relationship between the current document and the linked resource. It helps search engines, browsers, and other tools understand the purpose and relationship of the linked resource. The value of the `rel` attribute should be a space-separated list of relationship values. Here are some common values that can be used with the `rel` attribute:

  1. Link Relationships for `<a>` (anchor) elements:
    `nofollow`: Indicates that search engines should not follow the link. It’s good for linking to an asset. As a link can convey a transfer of authority, a nofollow attribute diminishes that transfer of authority.
    `noopener`: Suggests that the link should open in a new browsing context (tab or window).
    `noreferrer`: Specifies that no referrer information should be passed when the link is followed.
    `external`: Indicates that the linked resource is an external page.
  2. Icon Links for `<link>` elements (used for defining icons for the website):
    `icon`: Specifies a favicon or shortcut icon for the website.
  3. Stylesheet Link for `<link>` elements:
    `stylesheet`: Specifies that the linked resource is a stylesheet.
  4. Pagination for `<link>` elements:
    `prev`: Indicates the previous document in a series.
    ‘next`: Indicates the next document in a series.
  5. Author and License Information for `<a>` and `<link>` elements:
    `author`: Indicates a link to the author of the current document.
    `license`: Specifies a link to the license of the current document.
  6. Alternate Versions for `<link>` elements (used for alternate language versions or different document formats):
    – `alternate`: Indicates an alternate version of the current document
  7. Search Engines for `<link>` elements:
    – `search`: Indicates a search page.
  8. RSS Feeds for `<link>` elements:
    – `alternate`: Often used in `<link>` elements within the `<head>` to specify an RSS feed.
  9. Canonical URL for `<link>` elements:
    – `canonical`: Specifies the preferred version of a web page, particularly useful for duplicate content issues.
  10. Social Media for `<link>` elements:
    – `me`: Indicates a social media profile link (e.g., `rel=”me”` on a link to a personal Twitter profile).
  11. Preloading for `<link>` elements:
    – `preload`: Suggests that the linked resource should be preloaded to improve performance.
  12. DNS Prefetching for `<link>` elements:
    – `dns-prefetch`: Indicates that DNS prefetching should be performed for the linked resource.
  13. Preconnect for `<link>` elements:
    – `preconnect`: Suggests that the browser should establish a network connection to the linked resource in advance to reduce latency.

These are some common values for the `rel` attribute, but you can also create custom values if needed. The choice of `rel` values depends on the specific context and purpose of the link or resource you are defining. It’s important to use appropriate values to accurately describe the relationship between the current document and the linked resource.


What About The Business Resource Network Standard?

The BRN (Business Resource Network) Standard is a way to provide relevance between business resources: to provide structured metadata for hyperlinks, allowing website owners and search engines to understand the nature of interactions between websites and businesses. Similar to XFN, BRN would utilize the rel attribute to describe these interactions.

Attributes and Values

  1. “supplier”: Indicates that the linked resource is a provider of goods and services. This could be a business or entity that offers products or services.
  2. “competitor”: Signifies another web resource offering similar products or services, potentially in the same industry or niche.
  3. “resource”: Represents a source of useful information and/or data. This can include educational resources, reference materials, or data sources.


  1. “smaller”: Denotes that the linked resource is smaller in scope or scale relative to the source it is linked from. This can be used to specify a smaller subsidiary or division within a larger organization.
  2. “larger”: Indicates that the linked resource is larger in scope or scale relative to the source it is linked from. This can represent a larger parent company or a more extensive division.
  3. “expired”: Designates a resource that is no longer available, such as a discontinued product or an outdated webpage.
  4. “promotion”: Highlights that the link leads to a promotional offer, which may not be a permanent or ongoing promotion.

Combining Attributes:

  • “competitor larger” would mean a competitor that is larger in scale than the website source.
  • “supplier promotion” could describe a supplier that offers a temporary promotional deal on their products or services.
  • “resource expired” might indicate that the linked information source is no longer up to date or relevant.

BRN needs to evolve from a notion to a standard. What would come next: a dedicated webpage or documentation to explain its usage and encourage its adoption within the web development community. Additionally, collaboration with industry peers and organizations can help establish and promote this standard effectively.