When Google launched the nofollow link in 2005, it’s main purpose was to combat users spamming links on commentsa in blog posts, youtube videos, facebook, basically everything and anything with a comment space.
It’s functions were then expanded to be used as a method for flagging sponsored links that are being used for advertising or manipulating page rank. These types of links are considered a violation for link schemes.
Back in September 2019, Google added two new attributes for links: Sponsored and User Generated Content”
These additional attributes redefined the nature of links and expanded its functions from just telling the algorithm to “follow” or “not to follow”.
There are currently three types of link attributes:
The original function of the NoFollow link used to be defined by the webmaster using it, or in layman’s terms: It gives ‘instructions’ to Google’s algorithm.
Afterwards, it’s capabilities were expanded to give a ‘hint’ to the algorithm whether rank credit should be passed on or not. Meaning it will no longer follow NoFollow instructions blindly.
It will evaluate the link first before deciding whether to follow it or not.
After the March 1 update, the stakes have been raised higher. As Google will also be adding crawling and indexing functions in its considerations. The search engine giant said that the changes being made is due to their new capability to collect data on individual links, including words within it’s anchor text. This means their algorithm can now evaluate links more efficiently in order to identify link schemes.
Gary Illyes and Danny Sullivan from Google, the same people who wrote the September 2019 announcement, said the capabilities of these new attributes would help Google in understanding websites better and would allow webmasters to classify their links if they choose to do so.
Here’s the key point:
Whether you implement these attributes on your website or not is completely voluntary. Google’s algorithm will still review all the links on your site no matter what attribute label it has.
Choosing to use NoFollow attributes correctly and selectively on your website would be the best step for now.
Also, there are other methods to tell Google’s algorithm how to ‘interact’ with the links on your page:
If you’re looking for a specific set of guidelines from Google that will tell you how they consider the ‘hints’ that links are giving them, then you’re looking in vain.
The fact that they stated how the crawling and indexing of pages through links will solely be under their discretion is a good ‘hint’ (see what I did there?) that they will keep their evaluation standards close at heart.
Nevertheless, this update is still in its early phase. As time passes and we gain more results to analyze and draw conclusions from, these guidelines will soon be painted in a clearer picture.
Unconfirmed, clearer picture, but a clearer picture nonetheless.