Since the nofollow attribute was introduced in 2005, it has allowed Google to understand link relationships between pages.
What is a nofollow link?
Initially introduced to help with spam, the nofollow attribute was a simple way to tell Google whether or not to count or ignore links to use within their search algorithms. Link building strategies have changed drastically in this time and gone are the days of link spamming comment sections on websites in order to build authority and manipulate search engines as this was seen as a black-hat strategy and would decrease SEO performance for any sites flagged.
By adding a nofollow link, you can tell a search engine not to associate your site with the linked page and this has been the case for 15 years now. Best practice since is to build high quality and relevant links and this remains the same but with some amendments to the process.
What has changed?
On September 10th, Google posted a blog (see here) highlighting the updates to this process. From now onward, outbound links will now be managed using four separate attributes or ‘hints’ which will help Google understand these relationships in more detail.
- Regular links will be managed as normal and there is no need to add an attribute to these.
- The nofollow value remains the same and should be added when a link should not be followed or counted.
- Links towards sponsored content should now be marked with a value rel=”sponsored”. This value is especially important to avoid any penalties when linking to pages where you have received something in exchange.
- ugc (user generated content) – links toward comments and forum posts for example should be marked with a value rel=”ugc” but with certain conditions.
For more detailed information on these values, please click here – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/96569?hl=en
It’s also important to note the difference between a nofollow and a noindex value also. The noindex value completely excludes a page from being indexed and should be treated carefully.
In summary, the latest updates to how links are treated should help website owners to correctly mark links to help Google understand the relationship. At present, links already in place will not need to be updated as this would require huge effort for some sites and just isn’t feasible to achieve and there is no incentive or punishment for doing so. Google have said the following:
Why should I bother using any of these new attributes?
Using the new attributes allows us to better process links for analysis of the web. That can include your own content, if people who link to you make use of these attributes.
At 2Cubed Web Design & Development, our expert team is on hand to assist with any questions you may have. In addition, we also offer a number of services to help you grow your online presence. Check out our list of services and our website process – https://2cubed.ie/services/