Recently, Google has announced a big change to “nofollow” links. The big question on some people’s minds is, “Why change something that’s been the same way for 14 years?”
The nofollow tag was introduced as a way to combat spam links that users posted to get more links to their site. By adding the nofollow tag, users could prevent these links from gaining favor with the search engine algorithm. When spammers saw that they couldn’t raise their site’s rank by posting links on a site with nofollow tags, they were more likely to find somewhere else to post their spam links.
The nofollow tag also functioned as a way to protect site owners from losing their search engine rankings. Google penalizes sites’ rankings if they engage in link schemes that are against Google’s guidelines. By adding the nofollow tag to a link, users told Google to ignore that link when determining page rankings, which meant they could not be penalized or rewarded for that link.
Now, Google says that they will treat the nofollow tag more as a suggestion than a rule, meaning they may take some nofollow links into account when determining a page’s ranking. Although they did not disclose which types of links or sites would fall under this category, the presumption in the SEO industry is that higher quality publications such as major news websites and Wikipedia, could be the type of sites that Google would ignore the nofollow tag on. As Search Engine Land writes, Google also aims to use the nofollow changes to better understand link schemes.
In any case, it will help to keep an eye on the situation. Google may have plans for the nofollow tag that could change the way SEO is done in the future.