How Google’s Nofollow Links Will Impact SEO World?

Just nearly 15 years after the introduction of the Nofollow attribute, Google has surprised the SEO world by announcing its new way to treat the Nofollow links. Initially, these links were introduced to fight spam or spammer posting and after seeing its positive results, it has become Google’s suggested way for flagging sponsored links. 

Google has brought waves to the SEO world with its announcement of evolving the Nofollow link attribute. This change will benefit webmasters to identify the nature of certain links and help Google to understand the web in a more precise way. Many of you don’t have the actual understanding of the evolution of nofollow attribute links and how Google will treat these nofollow attribute links in the future. 

What Are The Big Points (Google’s New Attributes)? 

The new attributes of Google are the small aspects of Google’s powerful search algorithm. Let’s get started with the big points of the evolution to Google’s 15 years nofollow link attribute. These points will give a clear idea of how Google will treat the nofollow link attribute. 

  • There are three ways to do Link attributes which are summarized below: 

rel=”ugc”: uses to identify links within UGC (user-generated content). Comments and forum posts are the best examples. 

rel=”sponsored”: uses to identify sponsored links or are created as part of ads.

rel=”nofollow”: uses to identify the pages you want to link but without implying any kind of advertisement and ranking credit to another page. 

[attribute=”value”]: No value attribute is a default that is used in the case when no specific attribute is selected. 

  • Now, Google may use nofollow links for rankings as it treats each of the nofollow attributes as hints, which probably won’t impact organic ranking. These new attributes affect the end-user on a product, which may impact the ranking and results in helping the publishers. 
  • Still, Google won’t consider nofollow links for crawling and indexing purposes. However, this may get changed from March 1, 2020, onwards, which means Google may treat nofollow attributes as hints for crawling. 
  • Now use the new attributes in combination with each other just as the way as explained in the example: rel=”nofollow sponsored UGC”. It is valid for Google now. 
  • A paid link or advertisement must include the nofollow or sponsored attribute, doesn’t matter, alone or in combination. If only “ugc” is being used on paid links, then it could lead to a penalty now. 
  • Now Google offers no incentives and punishment for making any changes. Publishers don’t have to make any changes after the announcement of these new attributes. 
  • Those publishers who use nofollow attribute to control crawling needs to reconsider their strategy. 

How Will These New Attributes Impact SEO?

To better understand the nature of the new attributes, you must know to look at the table below: 

How Google nofollow attribute evolved?

Get The Bonus Points Out Of New Attributes

  • Now, use the new attributes in combination; rel=”nofollow sponsored is valid. 
  • To avoid the risk of penalties, paid links must use a “nofollow” or “sponsored” attribute (combined or separately).
  • Today, publishers don’t need to make any changes since Google offers no incentives or punishment for the same. 

Decode the Codes in below Examples

Here are code examples of the new attributes:

  • Normal link: <a href=””>trusted site </a>
  • Sponsored link: <a href=””rel=”sponsored”>bitcoin </a>
  • UGC link: <a href=””rel=”ugc”>sitename </a>
  • Nofollow link: <a href=””rel=”nofollow”>shady </a>

After reading the above information on Google’s new attributes, there must be some questions coming to your mind. To answer your queries with the appropriate information, here is a FAQ that would cover all your queries:

Why is there a need for Google to change nofollow?

In 2005, Google introduced nofollow attribute to fight comment spam and shady links from UGC as low-quality sites can impact publishers. Therefore, Google has decided to protect publishers from spam sites that could harm them in the future.  

Now, Google wants to withdraw the link graph and if there is any exchange of value for linking without the nofollow attribute, Google has all the right to penalize you.

There are some big sites, including Wikipedia that apply nofollow across their entire site out of fear of being penalized, which makes the entire part of the link graph useless for Google. Maybe with this new attribute, Google may understand the web in a better way. 

With the introduction of the new attributes, Google would begin to treat nofollow attribute as “hints” that would open doors for deserving content creators. 

Is it necessary to change the existing nofollows?

No, not at all. There is absolutely no requirement for changing any nofollow links if they are using to block sponsored links, or specifying that you don’t vouch for a page you link to.  

Can more than one rel value is valid to use on a link?

Yes, of course! To make it more clear to you, here are two examples with nofollow and without nofollow attribute:

  • Without nofollow attribute 

If you use rel=”ugc sponsored”, then it is absolutely valid attribute hinting the link that comes to UGC and is sponsored. 

  • With nofollow attribute 

If you use rel=”nofollow ugc”, it is valid to support backward compatibility services that might not support the new attributes.  

Is it needed to flag sponsored links?

Yes, it is required to avoid an obvious link scheme action. You need to use rel=” sponsored” or rel=”nofollow” for flagging these links. 

What happens in case of using the wrong attribute on a link?

Nothing would happen as there is no wrong attribute omitting the sponsored links case. For instance, if you flag non-sponsored links as “sponsored”, then it would appear as a hint but at the greatest is that Google might not give credit for another page. Therefore, it is mandatory to flag any paid link as “sponsored” or “nofollow”. “Sponsored” is preferable but “nofollow” is also valid. 

Does the “hint” approach encourage link spam in UGC content? 

Not likely, since there are many sites that allow third parties to contribute to content that discourages link spam in different ways. However, the new link attributes of “UGC” and “nofollow” will continue to be a discouragement. Google will treat them as it was treated before the introduction of the new attribute. 

When do these attributes come into action?

Right now, which means 10 September 2019, these attributes work as “hints” for Google to incorporate ranking purposes, whereas, for crawling and indexing, these will go into effect from March 01, 2020. 

Food For Thought

These new attributes are still trending and will be the talk of the town for some time, however, the real action will be seen when the impact of these attributes come into effect from March. 

For publishers who publish sponsored content, permitting UGC on-site or forums, then it is suggested to use sponsored and UGC link attributes, instead of using the singular nofollow attribute. 

Google always has a strong reason for any attribute, yet you feel that you don’t want to overhaul the entire site, it won’t harm you either. 

So this is it, now you have all the information about the new attribute, think, and consider what could benefit your SEO strategies. 

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