As of March 1 and on, Google will treat the nofollow link attribute as a hint, rather than a directive, for crawling and indexing purposes. Google is already treating all link attributes (sponsoredUGC and nofollow) as hints for ranking purposes. It has been doing this since it first made the original announcement in September 2019.

The nofollow link attribute, which rolled out in 2005, was made to stop spam links from passing credit and manipulating ranking signals.

Google introduced new link attributes last year for sponsored and user-generated content (UGC).

rel="sponsored": This attribute can be used to identify links on your site that are part of an advertisement, sponsorship or some other paid agreement.

rel="ugc": This attribute is recommended for links appearing in user-generated content, like comments and forum posts.

rel="nofollow": This attribute can be applied to any scenario in which you want to link to a page but don’t want to pass along ranking credit to it.

According to the September announcement, the new attributes serve to help Google understand the web better and allow site owners to clarify the nature of their links, if they wanted to.

But when implementing the attributes, it will not affect your site, and is totally voluntary.

“If you were using nofollow to block any sensitive areas of your site that you didn’t want crawled, it probably makes sense to go block these in a different way,” Patrick Stox, technical SEO and brand ambassador for Ahrefs. There are several ways, such as robots.txt or meta tags, that users can utilize to regulate how Google crawls and indexes pages.

As for the UGC and sponsored attributes, implementing them is voluntary. If you want to provide Google with that information (and have links classified for your own reference), feel free to do so. Whether you do or don’t won’t impact your site.

SourceGeorge Nguyen