We have already talked on our blog, in a previous article, about the difference between follow and nofollow links, that is, between links that pass link juice and links that Google should ignore.
The launch of rel = “nofollow” dates back to about 15 years and already at the time several SEOs had not hidden some doubts about the introduction of this new attribute , justified by Google as a way to combat spam, identify links created by users without any control (blog and forum) and try to stem the buying and selling of links (for link building ). But it was already not clear why UGC ( User Generated Content ) links were equated with those inserted for payment or for affiliation; two very different things.
And in fact, 15 years later, Google, with the new directive, announces the activation of two new attributes: rel = “ugc” (for links created by users) and rel = “sponsored“ ( for links created for advertising, sponsorship and affiliations purposes).
However, the rel = “nofollow” is also always active , to be used in cases where we do not want to transfer any “endorsement” to the target site , and obviously no advantage in terms of ranking.
But in spite of what we want to communicate to Google with these three attributes, there is, however, in the text of the official press release, a word that totally changes the cards on the table, or “hints” (suggestions ).
Our indications will be treated as “suggestions”, Google reserving the last word on the decision to take and whether to follow what we have expressed or, for example, transfer link juice even if we have affixed the rel = “sponsored” or rel = ”Nofollow”.
This “freedom of interpretation” is justified by Google with the fact that every link is important, and every link is always a signal that must be interpreted and that can help the search engine improve its results , even if we it might seem otherwise.
The transition to this new model, Google specifies, will always pay primary attention to what is indicated in the “rel” attribute, and only secondarily will it come – perhaps! – the analysis with a different final result by the search engine.
Nofollow links and new attributes: FAQ on the new directives
In conjunction with the official announcement, Google has also published some FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about it, in order to help webmasters and SEOs to better understand some particular aspects. Here are the most important ones
Is it necessary to change the attribute of existing links?
No, if you are already using the rel = ”nofollow” for sponsored links or anything else, you don’t have to change anything.
Is it possible to use more than one attribute in a single rel?
Yes, for example el = ”ugc sponsored” is a perfectly valid and accepted attribute; as well as rel = ”nofollow ugc”.
If I use rel = ”nofollow” for sponsored links, do I have to change it?
No, you can continue to use the classic “nofollow”, even if, for the new links you are going to create, we suggest you switch to rel = “sponsored”.
What if I am wrong to use an attribute?
There are no real attribution errors except in the case of sponsored links. If you assign the “sponsored” attribute to a UGC link, we may welcome it as a suggestion but it will not pass ranking anyway.
Instead, it is necessary to pay attention to those links that are clearly “sponsored” and for which we recommend the use of rel = “sponsored” or, at most, of rel = “nofollow”.
Why should the new attributes be used?
Using the new attributes can allow us to better process all the links and perform a more precise analysis of the whole web.
When will these new attributes go live?
All three attributes (sponsored, ugc and nofollow) are already in operation as of today as “suggestions”. As for crawling and indexing, the “nofollow” will become a “suggestion” from 1 March 2020.
What can we do for you
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