‘Nofollow’ tag has been there for long. But now there’s a change in it. There’s nothing to panic though. It will work the same as always until March 1, 2020.
Today rel=“nofollow” works as a directive for Google which instructs the crawler not to follow a certain link tagged specifically with nofollow. However, Google will not take it as an instruction anymore. It means it may choose to respect or ignore this directive from March 2020.
Why Google is doing this?
Google says it is the right time to evolve. Google wants to improve its search abilities, so it wants to know why not to follow a particular link. Links have valuable information. The demand is to provide a specific reason for not including it in Google’s database. If it is sponsored add rel= “sponsored” to it if generated by users add rel= “ugc”.
rel= “sponsored”- any link created as a part of an advertisement, sponsorships or other compensation agreement. There is no need for crawling for these links.
rel= “ugc”- these links are generated by users in the comment box. They don’t belong to the website owner. This link creates segregation between links created by a webmaster and user. Google does not include it in its database.
Earlier v/s now– Google launched the “nofollow” link in 2005 to prevent spam in comments. It extended its use to flag ads and sponsored links. Earlier Google took it as an instruction to not crawl, index or rank a link but now it will be used as a hint and not an instruction.
Google will analyze the link and decide by itself to follow or not follow a particular link. This will happen after March 1, 2020. There is no penalty for not changing it. As of now it will not be used for crawling and indexing but may be used as a hint for ranking. After March 1, 2020, it will be used as a hint for ranking as well as for crawling and indexing.
How to use new attributes?
Two attributes can be used in a single link. If a sponsored link is generated in user content, you can use rel= “ugc sponsored”. Other combinations like rel= “nofollow ugc” are also valid now. However, there is no need to change your no follow link today. But as per the recommendation of Google, using only nofollow is not a healthy practice.
In the nutshell, paid links should use “nofollow” or “sponsored” either alone or in combination to avoid the risk of penalties.
No follow has been used by SEO agencies for 15 years but it is the right time to have some changes. However, there will not be many changes in the search result but this change is after a long time with a big impact.