This could perhaps be the biggest update from Google for the SEO community since its mobile-first index announcement. The search engine has now changed how it treats noFollow link attribute. And this could finally put a stop to the never-ending debate between experts if noFollow backlinks do have some indirect benefits or are they just useless.
How it was?
NoFollow is an attribute or value that instructs search spiders to not follow/crawl the hyperlink. Meaning, the website that’s linked with the noFollow value, there’s no flow of SEO equity from the linker to the linkee; the linked website does not see any influence in its ranking.
On the other hand, DoFollow attribute instructs search spiders to crawl the hyperlink and pass on the linker’s link equity to the outbound link.
If you’re working with a good digital marketing company in USA, you would have noticed that they prioritize doFollow backlinks. (And now you know why!)
How it is now?
Google recently published a post on its Webmaster Central Blog. In the post, it announced, “when noFollow was introduced, Google would not count any link marked this way as a signal to use within our search algorithms. This has now changed”.
It explains, “(noFollow attribute would be) treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. We’ll use these hints — along with other signals — as a way to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within our systems” (Source)
This means, once considered not important, Google will treat noFollow attribute as a hint. It would treat it as a hint as to understand which links are to be considered for ranking and which ones to be excluded.
The two new attributes
Along with the announcement of how it’s going to treat noFollow attribute differently hereon, Google also announced two new attributes:
- rel=”sponsored” – This is to be used when you’re hyperlinking other sites as a part of your sponsorship, advertisement, and other compensation agreements. (Example: affiliate links)
- rel=”ugc” – UCG or User Generate Content attribute is to be applied to help bots identify the links that are included within the user generated content. (Example: comments)
What does it mean for webmasters?
Well, for the starters, it means nothing. If you have been following the white-hat practices and have a “natural” link building strategy, there isn’t any you should do.
These changes are made to help Google better process and analyze links on the web. So, there shouldn’t be any source of concern for the webmasters… at least for now. NoFollow will become a hint for crawling and indexing purposes from March 1, 2020. So, if these changes do impact ranking, we would only know about it after some time has passed away.
For now, stick to what the top SEO companies in San Jose would tell you…
Plug doFollow value for every link you trust and get value from; noFollow all the links that are shady and you wouldn’t trust. Use ‘sponsored’ attribute for links that are compensating you in any way. Use ‘ugc’ attribute to ensure Google bots treat links in the user generate content the right way.
Even with all the changes, it’s still quite simple! 😉