There’s been a major change to how Google counts nofollow links. In the past the nofollow was strictly followed, but today Google as using them as a hint for ranking your site – something that’ll impact your on-page SEO, content marketing, link building, and link spam.
Understanding Nofollow Links
Nofollow is an HTML attribute that’s added to your links to tell Google not to trust the link. Originally it helped combat blog comment spam, then it started being used when an advertising link couldn’t be 100% trusted. Google will no longer ignore these links and is instead using them and other signals as hints for how to correctly analyze and use your links.
With this change in mind, you’ll no longer want to use this attribute. However, it’s going to take considerable time and training for most people to make this change. This is because there’s a lot of confusion right now about what, if anything, they should be doing here.
Why Google is Making This Change
According to Google this will help give sites the link equity that they deserve. This stems from the fact that most websites will put the nofollow link attribute on all links, creating an unfair situation since these links should count. In this way sites are being forced to think twice since they’ll now be endorsing anything that they link to – something that’s good for link builders and the link graph but could possibly be a headache for publishers.
While most links won’t count, people will rush to try to benefit from Google’s change. There’s already a lot of rumors, misinformation, and confusion. This means Google needs to make a lot of clarification soon. Currently all that’s really known is that nobody is being forced to incorporate this change into their website.
The Downside to This Change
Unfortunately, many people believe that Google won’t be accurate when it comes to understanding which links will pass link equity. This may give black hat SEOs a green light to increase the use of their techniques (e.g. comment and forum spam) – something that many professionals fear will soon start happening. Most of them do agree that forum comments would increase in value once Google starts ignoring nofollow links since a lot of people gather on these forums sharing their personal experiences using products or services and answering questions others may have – something that once occurred mainly on blogs before they “died.” As of September 10, 2019 Google considers these links trustworthy. While this may encourage some forum owners may take the time to add UGC nofollow links in hopes of helping Google see that their content is valuable, there really isn’t any incentive to do so.
Google says they don’t plan to force anyone to use the new nofollow link attributes (one from user generated content and one that’s used to indicate sponsored content). Instead, these are voluntary. However, Google does stand to benefit here as these attributes will help them with their link calculations by hinting at PageRank and showing them whether a site sells sponsored links. It’ll also help increase forum traffic and blogging – balancing out the amount of this content with the amount of video and audio content that already exists.
Undoubtedly this change will impact SEO. Google says they’re doing this to help keep things fair, but it’s bound to also increase link spam. With all the changes that Google keeps making and the changing face of online marketing overall, it’s time to leave things in the hands of the professionals at the Local SEO Company. Make sure you contact them today to get the help you need maintaining your spot in the SERPs.