We’ve previously written how a major change in how nofollow links are counted and its impact on SEO, and now we’re seeing it live in the wild. Because of this change, a tried and trusted SEO tactic of placing links on directory websites is now under threat.
What is a Nofollow?
Nofollow is a link with an added HTML attribute (rel=”nofollow”) which is used to tell search engines that a link is not trustworthy. Nofollow was a good way of combating against spam comments and types of content that shouldn’t be trusted.
What has Changed?
Google now only takes Nofollow links as a hint rather than a directive, so its algorithms will decide whether to rank the page or not. Google added two more nofollow links which have different objectives:
- rel=”sponsored” – used for paid and/or sponsored links. This would also include affiliate links, however, Google hasn’t confirmed this.
- rel=”ugc” – UGC standing for ‘user-generated content’. These links are within user-generated content.
Why Would a Nofollow change to a Hint?
There is a thought that there are less opportunities for links as nobody is doing it anymore.
- With forum traffic down, there are less people on forums creating links.
- Blogging isn’t as popular as it once was, less bloggers creating links.
- Audio and video content doesn’t generate links.
There’s also a chance that link signal has become weaker over time.
What Is Happening?
Analysis of our own clients has seen huge amounts of referring domains lost.
On one day in August, one site lost 114 referring domains! Closer inspection found that every single one of those links came from online directories. With the latest changes by Google, it has clearly analysed these links and decided they’re no longer worthy of a user’s time.
How Does This Affect SEO?
This change will affect the strategies marketers employ to build a strong backlink profile for their sites. The tried and trusted tactic of adding links to directories is no longer a sure fire way of helping your site rank. With other algorithm guidelines such as E-A-T and YMYL also judging if content is not only relevant but trustworthy to users, marketers must consider the directories they’re targeting. Essentially, mass link building on directory sites is now damaging to your site. Pick and choose your places to create an effective backlink profile.
With user generated content having a greater impact on rankings, a link posted by users on forums and comments will have a positive impact. Building a great relationship with your customer base will support with brand loyalty as they’ll likely link to your brand across the internet. However, it’s opportunities like this that could see people profiting from this change.
Google’s changes have attempted to introduce a fairness to link equity, thus changing how links for ranking are calculated. However, with the possibility of nofollow links being arbitrability followed, an opportunity for people to sell nofollow links could happen. No matter its impact, as marketers we’ll keep an eye on its development and how it affects the SEO as a whole in the coming months.
For more news and advice on everything digital marketing, make sure to follow our blog. If you need support with your digital marketing services, get in touch with us today!