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No Expected Rollout Date for Nofollow Link Attribute Changes Says Google

While no official announcement has been made, attendees at the digital marketing conference, PubCon, received early confirmation that Google will soon begin using nofollow links for crawling and indexing.

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes, who was a speaker at PubCon, told attendees that there is a good chance that Google will start using nofollow links for indexing and crawling in the near future. However, he emphasized that this change has not yet been worked on by Google’s engineering team and there is no estimated timeframe for when this would be rolled out.

Going Back to the Beginning

As a bit of background, Google had previously announced changes to the nofollow attribute back in September 2019, and said that going forward, it would use the nofollow link attribute as a “hint” for ranking purposes.

“Nearly 15 years ago, the nofollow attribute was introduced as a means to help fight comment spam. It also quickly became one of Google’s recommended methods for flagging advertising-related or sponsored links,” said Google in a blog article. “The web has evolved since nofollow was introduced in 2005 and it’s time for nofollow to evolve as well.”

The change included two new link attributes that would provide webmasters with additional ways to identify the nature of particular links to Google Search.

But that’s not all. Google said that it would also expand on the initial nofollow link attribute change by allowing it to be used as a hint for crawling and indexing purposes as well.

This change had been expected to roll out by March 1, 2020, but based on Illyes’ comments, it would appear that this has been delayed.

Furthermore, according to Tweets from those who attended Illyes’ PubCon talk, there also appears to be some confusion about whether Google had actually been using nofollow links for ranking purposes since the announcement in September.

However, despite his comments at PubCon, Illyes did appear to confirm back in September that the change had already rolled out following the announcement, so unless we hear otherwise from Google, we’ll have to take his word on it for now.

As for using the nofollow link attribute for crawling and indexing, again, there doesn’t seem to be much movement on this, so we’ll just have to keep waiting for an official announcement down the road.