Jun 28, 2012
Reaction score
Google to treat nofollow link attribute as a 'hint'
by Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land
September 10, 2019
Google has announced Tuesday that today the nofollow link attribute (i.e. rel="nofollow“) will be seen as a “hint” rather than as a directive for ranking purposes. In addition, Google is adding two additional link attributes, in addition to the rel="nofollow" to provide a bit more context about the content you’re linking to.

Until this change, any link with the rel="nofollow" attribute added to it would not be counted at all by Google for use in its search algorithms. Google said it is now time for link attributes to “evolve”. New attributes for sponsored content and user-generated content (UGC) are joining nofollow, and the three will function in the following ways:

rel="sponsored": The new sponsored attribute can be used to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.
rel="ugc": The ugc attribute value is recommended for links within user generated content, such as comments and forum posts.
rel="nofollow": The nofollow attribute is for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page, Google said.

Today vs March 2020: Today Google will treat the nofollow attribute as a hint for ranking purposes. Meaning Google might count a link as credit, consider it as part of spam analysis or for other ranking purposes.

On March 2, 2020, Google will use it also for crawling and indexing. That means will Google use it as a “hint” as to what should be indexed or crawled but it is better to use robots.txt or meta tags for that purpose anyway.

History. Google launched the nofollow link attribute in 2005 as a way to fight comment spam. It then expanded it to be used as a way of “flagging advertising-related or sponsored links” that might get you in trouble with link schemes.

Hint vs. ignore. Google said each of these methods will be considered “hints” about how to treat the links rather than an instruction to ignore the links. The company said it is making the change because it can now collect data on the individual links, including the words within anchor text, and evaluate links in aggregate to better identify link schemes while still considering the link attribute signals.

“Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe content they point at,” Google said. “Looking at all the links we encounter can also help us better understand unnatural linking patterns. By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.”

Will the search results change? Google told us that it does not expect significant changes to the search results as of a result to this. However, Google is now able to begin looking at how to use this data in its search ranking systems and changing to the hint treatment will give Google more flexibility in how it treats links with these attributes in search.

“All the link attributes — sponsored, UGC and nofollow — are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search,” said Google.

No change needed. There is no need to change your nofollow links today, the company said. You can leave nofollow attributes in your UGC or sponsored links. “There’s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have,” however Google added, for sponsored content it “recommends switching over to rel="sponsored" if or when it is convenient.”

Multiple link attributes supported. You can use a combination of one or more of these attributes in a single link tag. You can tag a single link with rel="ugc sponsored" or rel="nofollow ugc". The first would hint to Google that the link came from user-generated content and is sponsored.

Read more


Jul 22, 2012
Reaction score
This is a very interesting update I am curious on how they will use these attributes beyond 2020. Thanks for sharing!
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Linda Buquet More Google Local Changes - Location Links + Rich Snippets are Back? Google My Business & Google Maps 12
M Google changes client's 5 year old, verified GMB to a duplicate listing Google Duplicates & Merges 7
NickB-Tampa Why does Google keep updating changing the main category on our listings to ones that don't make as much sense? NAP, Categories, Dashboard Data 2
Professor M Google Maps and Google My Business Big Changes - Google Maps Local News Feed Google My Business & Google Maps 26
Colan Nielsen Top 10 Changes That Impacted Google My Business in 2020 Google My Business & Google Maps 1
ErinJones Google My Business Category Changes by Month Google My Business & Google Maps 0
Colan Nielsen Top 10 Changes That Impacted Google My Business in 2020 Google My Business & Google Maps 0
FriarTuck00 Google Keeps Changing Phone Number on Listing Google My Business & Google Maps 5
K Google Keeps Changing my Business Name Google My Business & Google Maps 7
M Multiple reviews changed to “A Google User” Help & Support for Google Local 2
S Google just changed their rules for GMB posts: If you are a chain, you can now mass post to all your GMB locations using a GMB post scheduling tool Google My Business & Google Maps 6
Oliver Keates How to change the IG handle on Google knowledge Panel? Google My Business & Google Maps 14
Cordell Crowley 3-Day Change of Ownership for a Google Maps listing? Google My Business & Google Maps 7
Y Will small change of google business name hurt my google business rankings? Google My Business & Google Maps 3
H Tracking down the source of a Google involuntary category change Google My Business & Google Maps 8
djbaxter Robots meta changes for Google and the Yoast SEO Plugin Websites, Software, and Security 0
M Google changed my "primary category" on GMB NAP, Categories, Dashboard Data 3
officialryguy1 Google My Business Changes/Issues for Hotels Google News: Important Changes & Features 27
H Site Change of Address issue in Google Search Console Organic SEO 2
djbaxter "Stop changing the Google Logo..." Break Room: Chat and Off Topic 5
L Significant google algo change in the last few days? Organic SEO 4
Oliver Keates Changing The GMB Service area radius on Google Maps Google My Business & Google Maps 7
C Google Changes and Publishes Wrong Hours Google My Business & Google Maps 4
Tim Colling Huge Change for Service Area Businesses in Google My Business Service Area Businesses 129
Tim Colling Google shows pending changes to remove the description from half of my GMB locations(!) Google My Business & Google Maps 14
C Google automatically changing times, phone number on listings? Google My Business & Google Maps 4
G Does Google limit the amount of times you can change GMB listing? Google My Business & Google Maps 5
Creativedge Google is changing my address? Help & Support for Google Local 5
Digitaldar Can Customers Change Their Google Review of a Business? Local Search 1
JoyHawkins Webinar: Changes to Google My Business & Local SEO in 2017 Google My Business & Google Maps 20
Travis Van Slooten How to Make an Address Change to Claimed Google Listing (with no access to it) Google My Business & Google Maps 7
M Google Review Stars not changing? Local Reviews 10
Linda Buquet Moz Local Now Provides Google NAP Change Alerts Google My Business & Google Maps 2
BenFisher How I changed my Vanity URL in Google My Business Google My Business & Google Maps 6
Colan Nielsen Google Changes Business Name in Local Knowledge Graph Google My Business & Google Maps 4
Garrett Sussman Google Changes Its Syntax for Review URLs on Mobile Local Reviews 9
James Watt Google SERPs Display Changes - Some that Affect Local Google My Business & Google Maps 6
Linda Buquet Making Sense of the Google Adwords Changes for Local Businesses Paid Search and Local Service Ads 1
chrish Google+ Won't Change Name to Correct Spelling Google My Business & Google Maps 3
Linda Buquet Finally: Official Google Statement on ALL the Google Local Changes after G+ Update Google My Business & Google Maps 19
D Why does Google keep reverting my changes? Google My Business & Google Maps 12
Dustybones Google Hacked Spam Algorithmic Changes Rolling Out Organic SEO 6
Linda Buquet YAY Phone #s are Back in the Pack - Google Local Update you'll LIKE for a Change! Google My Business & Google Maps 17
Linda Buquet HOT! Track ALL Google Changes - Including Local Updates by Dr Pete @Moz Google My Business & Google Maps 2
Christa Morgante Google Changing Meta Local Search 6
M New Change: Google Removing Unverified Listings July 28th Google My Business & Google Maps 23
A Changing to Google My Business social media icon from Google Plus Icon Local Search 1
D How can I change our office location on Google Maps? Google My Business & Google Maps 1
MichaelW Google My Business Search Results Change Google My Business & Google Maps 6
Linda Buquet Google Business View Rebrands (Again) PLUS More Maps Changes Google My Business & Google Maps 16

Similar threads

Login / Register

Already a member?   LOG IN
Not a member yet?   REGISTER

Most UpVoted Answers

Trending: Most Viewed

LocalU Podcasts

  Promoted Posts

New advertising option: A review of your product or service posted by a Sterling Sky employee. This will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More...
Google Product Exert

Top Bottom