The latest update from Google on links has people puzzled. What is the future of rel=nofollow? What does this update from Google mean for link building in general? Do these new parametres signal a Google crackdown on link building? Should you run off and update all the links in your CMS right away? (Probably not).
Let’s review what people were saying about the latest link attribute developments in and around BrightonSEO…
What do rel=ugc and rel=sponsored mean?
So, what’s the story with these new types of links?
In a nutshell, Google has added two new attributes alongside the nofollow link attribute we’ve had for many, many years.
As nofollow has stood as a solitary link type for that long, this is pretty big news.
Details on the new link types below:
The timing of this was just delicious: the announcement came just days before BrightonSEO, and there were a lot of feelings about it on Twitter.
The nofollow attribute itself has come under intense scrutiny, so many people paid attention to the exact wording used by Google:
Pretty sure it’s been this way for a while, but nice to see Google’s official confirmation: nofollow’s no longer a strict rule, just a potential hint. https://t.co/xcznXR1jm7
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) September 10, 2019
Looks like we have confirmation that nofollow links are a hint to search engines, not a strict rule.
What does this mean for SEOs?
Hot off the press, all the biggest SEO tools (Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, Link Research Tools etc) were announcing new features to help track these new link types. WordPress is also promising it in its next update.
And John Mu even offered to help BrightonSEO speakers with slides if the last-minute changes were throwing them…
If you’re presenting at Brighton SEO this week and the nofollow change is throwing you off, I’m happy to take some time to gut-check any last-minute slide changes. Ping me at gutcheck.with.john @ https://t.co/NMCGgUDBBO & point at specific pages/slides.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) September 11, 2019
A lot of people were conscious of the fact that clients and stakeholders would have questions. A major update like this can put SEOs in a difficult position as clients expect an immediate response, whereas changes in SEO can be gradual.
The problem with this change to link attributes is that —quite rightly— SEOs are going to be asked about the commercial impact. Especially for enterprise where this change will cost money and need stakeholder support. That business case isn’t clear at the moment.
— Nick Wilsdon (@nickwilsdon) September 10, 2019
As Christoph Cemper put it in his blog (link below), Google made the announcement, but it will be up to SEOs and webmasters to implement the new link types.
Christoph was running talks about link building at the Link Research Tools stand and sharing his (considerable) insights into how Google views link building. It’s basically a constant struggle between acknowledging the power of links, and battling against paid links.
Changes will take a while to have any effect
When talking on her Digital PR training course, Laura Crimmons said she doesn’t think the changes will affect link building/outreach for a while , as it is up to journos/blogger discretion to use the new tags and to update all old content with the new tags (which is likely to take awhile).
Also, these new link tags may eventually give more weight to placements landed in top-tier sites as they have a blanket nofollow policy for outbound links.
In general, it seems safe to say that right now it’s not 100% clear what the effects will be. Due to necessary technical changes (and conversations with clients), it’s unlikely we’ll see an immediate roll-out.
Looking to the future?
One interesting question is whether this update will turn out to be the first of many changes Google makes to how it views links and link building.
It certainly brings our attention back to the issues surrounding link building. This could just be phase one of other largescale changes…
Lots of smart people wrote about the changes. Here are some useful resources you should check out: