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Google’s Latest Update Impacts Revealed

Google provides webmasters with a number of different ways to identify the nature of links within their content. The idea is that the webmasters have some control over which links Google’s bots consider when crawling their content and determine a page’s ranking. Therefore, it’s vital that you stay up to date with any major changes to attributions in order to protect your page ranking. Take a look at the below guide to find everything you need to know about the latest ‘nofollow’ attribution update.

What are ‘nofollow’ links?

Using a ‘nofollow’ attribute signified to Google that the link should not be treated as a first-hand endorsement of the page it led to, and has been frequently used to signify that a link placement has been paid for. In the past, Google would take a ‘nofollow’ attribute very literally and would ignore the link, thereby not transferring any ranking credit to the linked page.

The search engine giant has recently announced, however, that they are making major changes to how it deals with ‘nofollow’ attributes. By extension, the way in which webmasters treat paid links must change.

What is changing for ‘nofollow’ links?

From March 2020, Google will no longer take a ‘nofollow’ command literally. Instead, it will consider the attribute as a ‘hint’ towards the nature of the link. This means Google will now follow these links, check them, and make a judgement on the page’s ranking with this in mind.

How will the changes affect you?

The biggest impact will be on bloggers, forum posts, and news websites. The changes will not impact historical links, but the process going forward will be different. Google has provided a number of alternative attribute tags that webmasters can use to hint at how the link should be viewed by Google:

  • Adding a rel=’sponsored’ attribute to a link on your site will inform search engines that the link was created as part of a paid sponsorship or advertisement. It is recommended that webmasters start moving towards this attribute as soon as possible. For Ads and sponsored articles, using this attribute is now recommended, though ‘nofollow’ and ‘sponsored’ will be treated the same for the moment.
  • Adding a rel=’ugc’ attribute to a link will inform search engines that the link has been created by a user, such as in comments or forum posts.
  • Adding a rel=’nofollow’ attribute will tell search engines that you don’t want to imply any endorsement to the link. But crucially, whether Google ignores this or not is down to the search engine now, not the attribute.

The hard effect of this change will be implemented from March 2020, but as always, it’s best to move quickly and stay ahead of the game. Google is already  ‘listening’ to this new attribute change from today — make sure your link attributes are correct from now in order to minimise disruption.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact our SEO experts today to see how Mediaworks can keep your marketing campaign up to date with all of Google’s updates.

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