SEO is an industry characterised by constant change. However, with that being said, one of the few longstanding elements of the digital world has been the nofollow link attribute.
Introduced over a decade ago, the rel=”nofollow” attribute was designed to help curb spammy comments. This soon became one of Google’s recommended methods of marking links that were either sponsored or otherwise advertising-related.
But, last week, Google released a statement that the nofollow attribute is changing. Rather than being used as a directive for ranking and ignoring nofollow links outright, the nofollow attribute will be considered a ‘hint’. Additionally, Google introduced two new link attributes that publishers can choose to utilise to further describe the nature of a link.
What do these nofollow attribute changes mean for businesses and marketers? Find out below!
What is changing?
For the last 15 years or so, all links with the rel=”nofollow” attribute attached were passed over by Google, and not included as a ranking signal within its search Philippines Photo Editor algorithms. As per Google’s update, the nofollow attribute is evolving in order to keep up with the evolution and growth of the internet at large.
To understand how nofollow links are supposed to work now, we need to look at how they operate in concert with the two new attributes: ‘sponsored’, and ‘ugc’.
rel=”sponsored”: This new link attribute is intended to be used for flagging links that are connected to advertising or sponsorship.
rel=”ugc”: This attribute value is being introduced by Google to flag links that are part of user-generated content, which could include both comments and forum posts.
rel=”nofollow”: Now, the nofollow attribute is intended to flag links that you don’t want to pass ranking credit to. This is typically the case when you’re linking to something you don’t mean to officially endorse.
How does this affect SEO?
Since Google plans to treat these attributes as hints for ranking, we can assume that Google could potentially include nofollow links in ranking signals, or as part of other analyses, e.g. spam analysis.
Google also plans to make changes to this system next year, on March 2nd, 2020. From this date, Google will use nofollow links for crawling and indexing. This doesn’t change too much, as it will still be more ideal to utilise meta tags or your sites robots.txt to highlight what should be indexed and crawled.