Backlinks have been an integral part of Google’s ranking algorithm system. These backlinks help Google calculate a page rank for a website and understand its relevance to a topic. 

Checkout the official Page Rank formula below and see how a link plays a significant role in deciding a websites Page Rank.

Page rank formula 

PR(A) : Page Rank of your Page

B, C, D are pages that link to your page

PR(B) : Page Rank of page B

L(B)  : Number of Links on Page B ( to any other page on the web)

d: damping factor which generally equal to 0.85

If you look closely this formula calculates a website’s authority just by considering backlinks alone. That pretty much tells how important a backlink is in the ranking system. 

Rel=”nofollow”

rel=nofollow attributeImage source: https://bit.ly/2kgSYuS

The NoFollow link attribute was introduced almost 15 years ago with the intention of curbing comment spam. SEO folks back in the day would spam the comments section with an objective of generating a backlink. 

So to not let these content spammers win over the algorithm, a NoFollow link attribute was introduced. This attribute helped webmasters to avoid association with random websites on the internet and still enjoy the perks of free user-generated content. 

However, everybody knew that a Follow attribute passes link juice, and a NoFollow attribute stops that pass. Over a period of time selfish website owners(everybody) started using the NoFollow attribute to almost every link going out from their domains. This again started playing against Google’s ranking algorithm as the algorithm did not consider any backlink that had a NoFollow attribute.

Now even genuine website who earned an honest backlink would not get any link juice benefit even though they deserved it. 

As a solution to that Google introduced two new link attributes on 10th September, 2019.

rel=”sponsored”

rel"sponsored"

Image source: https://bit.ly/2kgSYuS

This attribute is meant to be used when a website owner is linking to another website as a result of an advertisement, sponsorship or any other compensation. 

rel=”ugc”

rel"ugc"Image source: https://bit.ly/2kR1EbN

This attribute is meant to be used for user-generated content (links) on a website. For instance, links from forums, comments should have this link attribute. 

Primary purpose of these attributes is to give Google better understanding of the linking structure and the relationship between these links. These link attributes including the rel=”nofollow” will no longer be ignored and in fact would be used as a hint to rank websites better.

This move by Google is a relief for the SEO community as it is extremely difficult to build Follow links on the internet.

However, it will be interesting to see how the rankings fluctuate once Google rolls an algorithm which takes “hint” from these NoFollow backlinks. In the last 15 years, there are tons of NoFollow backlinks just sitting on the internet. As Google now will start recognizing them, it is going to change lives for a lot of website owners out there, for good or for bad? Time will tell. 

Also read: Why is SEO Important for a Website

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