Google Update: How Nofollow Links Will Now Affect Rankings

Updated on: 1 October 2019

Nofollow links was first introduced nearly 15 years ago as a way to prevent comment spam.

Introducing a nofollow link to a particular page essentially informs Google to ignore it as part of the search engine’s index. This means that search engine bots aren’t able to track and crawl these links, giving them no power in affecting SEO rankings.

However, this is all set to change. On September 10 2019, Google announced and introduced two new link attributes; sponsored and UGC (User Generated Content). These 2 new attributes will provide businesses with additional information to help Google understand the nature of its links better.

Below are the descriptions of all 3 link attributes:

  • rel= “nofollow” – Use this attribute in scenarios where you want to link to a page, yet do not wish to involve any types of endorsement, such as passing the credit to another page.
  • rel= “sponsored” – Allows you and Google to recognise links on your site that are generated as part of advertisements and sponsorships.
  • rel= “ugc” –  Recommended for links that utilize user-generated content, including comments and forum posts.

Why Google decided to improve nofollow links

A major downside of nofollow links is when it gets misused. Over the years, there has been countless of sites that has carelessly abused nofollow links by applying them on all outbound links . This is not ideal for Google, since this can potentially result in the removal of important sources of information for users in the long run. Google’s motivation for this update is thus to strengthen the link signal in order to obtain better search results.

The benefits of this update

All 3 link attributes will be managed and utilised as hints on which links to ultimately include or exclude in search. These signals will allow Google to better interpret how to analyse and use links promptly within its system – allowing Google to rank pages more accurately, while still providing users with the most relevant and useful answers to their queries.

Why you should take notice

The misuse of nofollow links has unfortunately resulted in the link authority of many publishers being unjustly suppressed. With this change, web publishers’ will finally get the chance to have their site measured by their true authority.

You too, can benefit from this update! Get in touch with a Digital Marketing Agency, or consider signing up for an SEO course to put this information to good use today!