Google is improving the nofollow link attribute and introducing additional attributes to help Google understand the nature of the links.
Google updates its algorithm mainly to ease the process of ranking millions of webpages deciding within a fraction of seconds and help the user to get a relevant solution for a specific query searched.
The 2 new link attributes that join rel=”nofollow” are:
1. rel = “sponsored”: identify links on a site that have been created through ads, references or similar agreements.
2. rel = “ugc”: identifies the links that appear in the user-generated content, such as comments and forum posts.
In the future, each of these three attributes will be treated as an indication of which links to exclude as classification signals. This means that they will not be ignored, this was the case so far.
Why not completely ignore these links? Here is Google’s explanation:
What SEO and Site Owners Should Know
Link attributes are always important
It is equally important to mark sponsored ads and links to avoid possible penalties. Google prefers to use “sponsored”, but “nofollow” is also appropriate.
It is not necessary to change existing attributes
It is not necessary to modify existing nofollow links. Google will continue to respect the nofollow attributes currently in place.
In addition, website and SEO owners do not need to change the way they use the “nofollow” attribute to report ad links and references. However, Google recommends moving to the “sponsored” attribute when appropriate.
How to use the new attributes correctly
Multiple attributes can be used in a single link. For example, rel=”sponsored ugc” would be acceptable for a sponsored link that appears in user-generated content.
Google indicates that there is no bad attribute to use, except in the case of sponsored links. If a link is marked as sponsored while not part of an advertisement or sponsorship, the impact will be mitigated.
To conclude: Any link that is clearly an ad or sponsored must use “sponsored” or “nofollow”.
These changes take effect today
The 3 link attributes: sponsored, ugc and nofollow, now work as of today.
The sponsored attributes and ugc are treated as “clues or hints”. Nofollow will work as until March 2020, when it will also be treated as an indication.
Those who rely solely on the nofollow attribute, which was never originally recommended, should consider switching to one of the new attributes.