Google Crawl and Indexing Update March 1, 2020 : Latest Developments for Improved Search Results

What is the latest Google Algorithm Update?

This is a question that SEOs search the most nowadays. The major reason for “Google Algorithm Update” becoming such a trending keyword is due to the uncertainty caused after the rollout of each update. Google rolls out hundreds of core algorithm updates each year and the search engine giant announces a few that have a far-reaching impact on the SERP.

Each time Google updates its algorithm, it’s moving a step forward in making the search experience easy and more relevant to the users. However, as SEO professionals, we get entangled with questions from clients on why the update caused fluctuation in rankings.

The no-follow attribute was introduced nearly 15 years ago as a means to fight comment spam. However, it soon became one of Google’s favourite method for flagging sponsored links.

The web has evolved since the attribute arrived in 2005.

About the Nofollow Update

The update affects the crawling and indexing of no-follow links.

Before now, Google treated no-follow links as directives. The search engine bot simply obeyed with no-follow link attribute without crawling or indexing them. And that’s about to change.

Starting from March 1, 2020, Google begins handling no-follow links as a hint for crawling and indexing.

The announcement reads:

“For crawling and indexing purposes, nofollow will become a hint as of March 1, 2020.”

So, site owners who depend entirely on no-follow to prevent the search engine from indexing a page must now consider other methods.

While it’s unclear whether the update would impact search ranking, you may still want to review the use of no-follow on your site. Consider removing the attribute and moving to meta robots no index.

Google points out that using no-follow to block the crawling and indexing was never a good practice in the first place.

Review Your Nofollow Policy

Publishers commonly implement the no-follow attribute to prevent specific pages from being crawled. This is often applied to links such as user profiles, login pages, and sections of a website that might be considered thin content. No-follow usage helps guide search engine crawlers, preserving valuable crawling resources for substantial content while ensuring that these less crucial pages do not dilute the site’s overall search engine visibility and ranking potential.

Using no-follow for blocking Google from crawling and indexing a page was never a good practice. There are more robust ways to keep pages from being indexed (such as the meta robots no index directive).

Will the March 1, 2020, Update Impact Rankings?

It’s difficult to forecast how the update to crawling and indexing no-follow links may impact rankings. It may depend on what pages Google chooses to crawl and index.

Google may set up rules for selecting which pages to index and which to not index. It’s not far fetched that Google will choose not to index low-quality pages.


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