Evolving “nofollow”: Google’s new ways to identify the nature of links

Almost 15 years ago, Google introduced the nofollow attribute in a war against spam content online. It wasn’t long before it became one of the top recommended methods for flagging sponsored links or advertisements. However, a lot has changed since then, and it’s time for nofollow to do the same.

The new nofollow

Google has recently announced two new link attributes that help webmasters better identify the nature of particular links and apply that to Google Search. These, along with nofollow, are summarized below:

  • rel=”sponsored” – the sponsored attribute is there to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other forms of compensation.
  • rel=”ugc” – User Generated Content requires the UGC attribute. This includes links within comments and forums.
  • rel=”nofollow” – Use this in scenarios where you would like to link to a page but do not wish to imply any form of endorsement.

A better way to understand content

When we were first introduced to nofollow, Google would not allow any links with this attribute to be seen within our search algorithms. However, things have changed. These new attributed are seen as hints about which links should be considered or excluded within the search. Google will use these hints, as well as other signals, to better understand how to analyse these links and use them appropriately.

Why is this important?

Links contain valuable information that allows Google to improve search, such as the accuracy and relevancy of the content within the page. And the more links they encounter, the easier it is for Google to understand any linking patterns that may appear to be unnatural. With these new hint models, Google can continue to crawl through this valuable information while allowing the website owners to indicate that some links should not receive the weight of a first-party endorsement.

Read more here.

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