Robots won’t support the new link attributes, though. “There’s no meta robots ugc and sponsored, it won’t do anything if you add that,” Illyes also stated in his tweet.
Many SEOs are questioning why they should adopt the
sponsored link attributes. Illyes and Danny Sullivan, who co-authored the announcement, have reiterated that they only serve to help Google understand the web better and enable webmasters classify the nature of their links, if they want. The nuances Google looks at between the
sponsored attributes won’t have an impact on your own site, and implementing the new attributes is completely voluntary.
Distinguishing between noindex and nofollow. “The robots meta tag remains the same as before, noindex affects the page, nofollow affects the links on the page. It’s just that nofollow on the links is now different,” Google’s John Mueller added for further clarification.
Why we should care. Whether you’re using it as a link attribute or within meta robots, Google will now look at
nofollow as a “hint” about the context of the link — not a directive to ignore the link altogether. In most cases, Google says,
nofollow links will be treated as they always have and won’t pass link equity, but it will collect the data within the links and, in some cases, those signals may impact rankings.
For sites on the receiving end of
nofollow links, if Google chooses to count those links in certain scenarios — links from sites such as Wikipedia, for example — then pages being linked to could see ranking improvements. Operative being “could.”