On Tuesday, Google announced they were changing their policy regarding "nofollow" links. Before, Google did not count any nofollow links toward their search rankings. Now, they will treat the nofollow tag as a "hint" for which links to include or exclude from their algorithm.
What is a NoFollow Link?
A nofollow link is a link marked with a rel="nofollow" HTML tag. This tag tells search engines to ignore the link. Nofollow links were originally created to combat blog comment spam. They're typically used to mark all advertising-related or sponsored links that you don't want Google to crawl.
Here's what it looks like:
<a href="https://www.ezmarketing.com" rel="nofollow"> example <a>
So What Does this Change Mean?
Google will now look at all links. As they've said, "Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search... By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn't be given the weight of a first-party endorsement."
If your site has a large number of inbound nofollow links, this is great news. Google will now assess those links and give you credit if it thinks they're relevant.
Bottom line: depending on the quality of your site and the relevance of your backlinks, you could see an improvement in rankings. For example, if your site has a bunch of relevant links from Wikipedia, these could potentially start helping your backlink profile.
Also, don't worry about changing existing nofollow links on your site. A nofollow tag still means that your website does not want to imply endorsement, or pass along rank credit to another page. Google also reassured everyone that there's no need to change the links you already have.
Introducing rel="ugc" and rel="sponsored"
Google also announced two new rel-tags that will make it easier for them to identify the intent of links.
- The "ugc" tag is for user-generated content like comments and forum posts.
- The "sponsored" tag is now Google's preferred tag for identifying ads and other sponsored content links.
Google has said there will be no penalties for continuing to use the nofollow tag, although they recommend switching to the new tags in the future.
When Do tHese Changes Go Into Effect?
As of Tuesday, the rel="ugc" and rel="sponsored" tags are live and ready to use. As for the nofollow tag, it will continue to be ignored until March of 2020. At that point, Google will shift to the "hint" policy.
Want to read more about this?
You can read the original announcement from Google here:
You can also check out a few other article regarding this update.