Google announced on Tuesday that the nofollow link attribute will not be taken as an attribute for ranking but will be treated more as a hint for the purpose. The company will also add two new link attributes for sponsored and user-generated links. The decision comes in the wake of Google’s decision to allow link attributes to evolve.
Nofollow and the two new link attributes will follow specific processes. rel=”sponsored” will be used to identify links on your site generated as a part of advertisements and sponsorships. rel=”ugc”: will be used to identify links within user-generated content as a part of comments and forum posts. rel=”nofollow”: This will be used to link to a page but don’t want to denote endorsement of any type. It will also be used for crawling and indexing from March 2020.
The nofollow link attribute was started in 2005 to deal with spam but later expanded for flagging ads and sponsored links. According to Google, these methods will be used more as a guide for treating links and less for ignoring them. The change has been introduced as it helps collect data on individual links and to make evaluations. “Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe the content they point at,” Google said. “Looking at all the links we encounter can also help us better understand unnatural linking patterns.
By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.” Does this mean that search results will show up differently? Not much says Google.
However, it does allow Google the flexibility to use data in the search ranking systems and changing to hint process. You are not required to change your nofollow links right away. For sponsored content,
however, Google recommends switching over to rel=”sponsored” when it suits their convenience.
Google has also put to rest fears that this would result in more spam.
However, SEO agencies will have their task cut out now. You will have to decide what specific link attributes that should be applied to match client needs. You might also have to adapt the toolset providers used for measuring links.
The nofollow link attribute was at the core of the SEO industry for more than a decade. This is the first big change happening in this setup.