Major Google NoFollow 2.0 Update for Sept 2019

NoFollow 2.0: As of the 10th Sept 2019, Google have made a significant change to how they require webmasters to tag all backlinks.

Prior to this date, backlinks either carried no tag or the “NoFollow” tag, to indicate that Google Bots should not either follow the link, and/or count any attributable Authority/Trust Score to the target site.

This was fairly open to abuse and Google has historically struggles with the manipulation of the “NoFollow” tag.

NoFollow was often used and abused to ‘sculpt’ what was Page Rank and because Authority / Trust Score.

Many webmasters used the tag for example within their website navigation to attempt to manipulate the value of their important pages.

Google expected everyone selling links or allowing User Generated Content to use the NoFollow tag to depreciate those links, be they paid adverts, blog comments etc.

In reality, this didn’t happen as often as they would have liked……..

So Welcome To NoFollow 2.0

No Follow 2.0 is a significant update to how backlinks are tagged.

SPONSORED = Paid Advert Links

UGC = For User Generated Content including; blog comments, social media posts, etc.

NOFOLLOW = for links that a webmaster doesn’t want to be indexed in Google.

The big question of course is whether webmasters will adopt this new protocol as Google intend.

It is for example highly unlikely that a webmaster selling backlinks is going to tag his links up as “SPONSORED” if he doesn’t have to.

As soon as a backlink carries this tag it will be depreciated for search rank influence purposes.

Once tht happens, no one will pay the webmaster for the worthless link (unless they happen to drive large volumes of real traffic through the link)…. so his or her income stream will dwindle.

Potential Impact of this Update

If you are clever and ahead of the curve, you have of course already ring fenced your money website and protected it from any negative impact from direct ‘Paid Links’ and any penalties that might ensue.

In practical terms this probably means that you don’t have any ‘Paid Links’ linking directly to your high ranking website.

Instead, you have several ‘Paid Links’ pointing to a firewall website which then passes safe, ‘unpaid’ organic trust score to your site.

Or maybe you haven’t…..

The issue of course is that a website will generally only pass 60% of its Trust Score on to a site it links to.

This means that if you buy a 30 Trust Score (53 Authority Score) link and pass it through a firewall site, then your website only receives a score of 10 (20 Authority Score), not the 30 you are paying for.

This is because the firewall site only receives a score of 18 (36) from a 30 (53)…… and your money site then receives a 10 (20) from the 18 (36).

This is a huge drop off when what you actually want is the 30 (53) to link directly to you…. and pass all its lovely link juice in the process.

Potential Outcomes:

  1. Webmasters continue to abuse the new tags much like the old.
  2. Google applies pressure to webmasters and issues penalties to force compliance
  3. Your website may see a reduction in Trust Score in the coming months as webmasters re-tag their ‘paid links’ which previously passed a good score through 3rd party sites onto yours.

What You Need To Do

  1. Make sure that you don’t have any links from websites that are obviously selling links
  2. Keep an eye on your backlink profile for changes
  3. Watch Google Webmaster Tools for notices about your website.

Google is declaring war on sellers of ‘Paid Links’ and NoFollow 2.0 is how they intend to achieve the results they want and to reduce the influence that Paid links have on their organic search rankings.

There will undoubtedly be a few high profile cases in the near future of sites being hit with penalties in order to attempt to scare the masses into compliance.

By taking this action, Google are confirming the influence that backlinks have on their ranking algorithm.

If backlinks had little or no influence, they wouldn’t put so much effort into policing them and controlling how they are manipulated.

We suspect that the majority of link vendors will not re-tag their links unless they are forced to do so.

This is an attack on those that sell direct paid backlinks…. an attempt to prevent them from doing so.

If you are a reseller of backlinks, make sure that your sites are not low quality, that you do not advertise selling links on those sites and that you don’t draw attention to your income stream.

If you need high quality backlinks and are concerned about how NoFollow 2.0 might affect your rankings, get in touch and see how we can help…

Additional Reading:

What is SEO?