Google's latest change to search sees the nature of nofollow links shift from "directive" to "hint" today. But how will that affect site owners?
What: In September 2019, Google announced they would be changing the way they treated
nofollow links. They were introduced in 2005 as a way to combat blog comment spam and wider black hat SEO tactics. But as of today (March 1st), Google will see
nofollow links as “hints” rather than “directives”. The company also introduced two new link attributes:
rel="sponsored": Used for links on that come as part of a sponsorship or other form of paid agreement.
rel="ugc": Used for links related to User Generated Content such as blog comments and forum posts.
Why: Gary Illyes and Danny Sullivan said that the new attributes and
nofollow changes were made to help Google understand the web better through the links site owners use and give them a better way to classify the type of links they have. It’s worth noting that there’s no penalty for not using them.
The result: Well, if we take John Mueller’s and Gary Illyes’s word for it, we won’t see any significant changes from today, as Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable found out:
Ultimately, use the new attributes if you want or don’t. Many sites have used
nofollow for all external links to avoid passing on authority in the form of link juice and Google’s latest change will switch that up. We’ll have to wait and see how significant the changes will be but for now, SEOs will have to find something else to shake their fists at.
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