It has been recently announced by Google that after 14 years of being used, the “nofollow” attribute has some updates.
The "nofollow" attribute was originally used to suggest to the spiders that the link should not be used as a recommendation or ranking signal for various reasons. Here are two of the most frequent situations that are met:
It could be the case that the content is sponsored, in which case the link is not “owned” by the website where it is published. It should not be counted as a recommendation to the target website, as the content advertised and the target website belong to the same owner.
On forums, guest post websites or websites with multiple contributors like Wikipedia, the contributors discuss, debate or ask for solutions. In this case is user generated, still not representing the website owner’s opinion.
The difference between the user-generated content (UGC) and the sponsored content is that the latter can actually be helpful and the links could be used as a genuine recommendation.
In order to differentiate on this matter, Google introduces two new tags: “sponsored and “ugc”, to reflect better the information provided to web spiders. Trying to game the new attributes will lead to penalties.
Therefore, we now have the following terms:
“nofollow” - which will become an umbrella term for “NOT TRUSTED”.
“sponsored” - 100% NOT TRUSTED (PAID FOR) as it is part of advertising, rather than a genuine opinion.
“ugc” - content generated on forums or guest blogs which are subject to analysis and have a chance to be recognised as a genuine recommendation (“follow”).
Here is an article on Moz, detailing this change and how it will be implemented by March 2020.
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