The Google Nofollow Change A Ranking Change?

There has been some confusion, sorry to say it, around this nofollow link attribute change from last September. In short, made a change to the nofollow link policy, that starting on March 1, 2020, Google can look at a nofollow link attribute as a hint and not as a directive. Google said in September they can use it as a hint for ranking and in March as a hint for crawling and indexing.

Google say we should not expect to see changes in search with this change. Currently, it seems like this is just a policy change and nothing was actually changed here – Techsay. We know Gary Illyes of Google is working something up around this.

So when Google talked about its spam metrics in this new blog post, it summed up some of the nofollow changes. In which, AJ Kohn asked on Twitter, “Did I miss the announcement that rel=sponsored and rel=ugc would be used for ranking purposes?”

Danny Sullivan of Google responded:

Danny added that there is no disadvantage for using the new rel sponsored or UGC link attributes:

He then goes on to say, why would anyone think there is a difference with ranking here from before:

Then Gary Illyes from Google comes in and explains more what Google means about “hints” and when/how they might use it:

In the interview with Marie Haynes, she asked John Mueller:

Let’s talk about nofollow and Google announced last year that there were some changes coming to how you could use nofollow. I believe at that time you gave us rel=sponsored and rel=ugc. I feel like there’s a bit of confusion about how Google can use nofollowed links and part of the confusion is.. well people ask me often, if someone has pointed spammy links at me in an attempt for negative SEO, like comment spam and links like that, and they are all nofollowed links. Can those nofollowed links ever be used as signals for Google?

John Mueller of Google responded:

Well we don’t use them in a negative way. So it’s something where if we can use them to discover some new content then that’s something where I believe we try to use that but it’s not the case where we say well these are normal links on the web so we will count them at full weight and if they are bad links on the web then they’ll count against you and that kind of thing. So if these are links out there that you don’t want associated with your site and they’re with a nofollow then that is perfectly fine. I think a lot of the ads on the internet are also with nofollow, that’s something where we wouldn’t see that as a paid link just because we now understand nofollowed links a little bit better.

So are you more or less confused?

Maybe when Gary Illyes releases what he is working on, it will be clearer?

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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