Market Insider By Peter Tremblay 288 Views

Google revises policy on “nofollow” as of March 1, 2020

No-follow links have traditionally not been particularly helpful when considering the relative ranking of websites by Google’s crawling algorithms. The search engine giant’s treatment of the nofollow tags led many to believe that the links were not reliable. But by September 2019, a new algorithm began to transform everything. Google now has more sharply defined the unconstructive versus constructive uses of nofollow tags for savvy webmasters.

The implication of this, according to Julie Rebarbar, Digital Marketing Specialist at dNovo Group, is that publishers now have to revise their search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) techniques. This includes SEM link building considerations with respect to nofollow and do follow backlinks.

Later, Google stated that it was going to come up with a new update that would address the impact of nofollow links when they are indexed and crawled. The policy update was slated for the 1st of March, 2020. Google’s new policy has set the stage for nofollow links to become a hint rather than a directive for crawling and indexing from that date.

Google algorithms were predictably set to obey the nofollow link attribute and didn’t crawl or index them.  But thanks to the prevailing policy update, nofollow tags are now set to have a constructive and potentially valuable role in how websites are crawled and indexed.

More on nofollowlinks

The best way to define a nofollow link is a link that comes with a certain HTML tag that traditionally allows search engines like Google to overlook the link itself. When this happens, the links are not indexed or crawled. The ordinary user out there cannot point out the differences when it comes to do follow and nofollow links. These links can be copied and pasted like others. However, such tags matter to the managers of blogs, forums, social media, and websites in general that look to Google for optimization and marketing.

With that being said, Shamil Shamilov, Senior Marketing Consultant at dNovo Group, has emphasized the importance of “keyword mapping” in support of efforts to drive traffic to a site.

Google’s view of nofollow links before

For Google, comment spamming emerged as a real issue, especially with the explosion of blogging platforms. It became a practice for spammers to hop from one blog to another and leave comments on these platforms. By doing this, they were able to rank very well in Google in a manner which damaged the credibility of the search engine.Because of this, high-quality websites were losing out to spammers.

What Google did in response was to come up with the nofollow tag as a solution to the nagging problem. In 2005, the search engine giant issued an update to the algorithm, and the nofollow tag was launched. With time, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines followed suit. Wikipedia, Quora, Reddit, YouTube, and others did the same by blocking indexing.

Blocking crawling and indexing

One secondary use of nofollow tags was to block the crawling of pages altogether. This technique was applied to user profiles, links to login pages, and other such parts of a site which a webmaster preferred not to be crawled. But relying on nofollow tags to prevent crawling and indexing certain areas of a site was never an advisable practice.  Instead, Julie Rebarbar elaborates that there are much more robust ways to prevent a part of a site from being indexed. Foremost among these ways is the use of the meta robot noindex directive.

As of March 1, 2020

Having revised its policies, it remains to be seen what ironclad set of rules, if any, Google has adopted in order to reflect its refreshed approach to nofollow tags.

Traditionally, the use of nofollow tags by webmasters signalled to Google that for one reason or another, that link should be overlooked and should not be crawled.

However, with this policy update has come two new link attributes. These comprise of rel=“nofollowugc” and “nofollow sponsored.”

The rel=“nofollowugc” tag signals to Google as it crawls and indexes algorithms that the content is “user-generated content.”That is, although the content was not generated by the publisher of the site, it may still have intrinsic value for search engine crawling and indexing.

“Nofollow attributes on this type of content might be useful for ranking purposes This is because Google does consider certain forums as expert sources of information. Forums give people a platform to share their personal experiences with products and services as well as gives advice to users in form of answers,” Ms.Rebarbar points out.

By contrast, “nofollow sponsored” tags signal to Google that the content has been paid for and should, as a result, be disregarded as having any organic value and independent credibility to search engine indexing and crawling.

With the aid of revised nofollow link attributes, Google can do a much better job with the indexing, crawling, and eventually ranking of the different pages in a manner which makes self-serving spammers lose out.

“By applying a nofollow attribute on a forum post, it doesn’t stop Google from sending ranking signals because the search engine believes this could be a useful source of honest and expert endorsement,” elaborates Julie Rebarbar.


Being aware of the nofollow update to Google’s policy ought to be pivotal in the successful management of your site. It is advisable site managers to make an adjustment to tags on sites if traffic begins to observably decline in areas of sites which was not foreseen.

Should rankings and traffic begin to decline, Google’s new nofollow tag policy update might be a factor.

Improper positioning of nofollow tags can backfire through adverse Google indexing. To guard against Google hits against your site, it is advisable to review how nofollows are used on your site and to decide in what way they ought to be modified and replaced with a meta robots noindex tag, which may end up being more appropriate and constructive for your needs.


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