Article by Pierre Zarokian.
In 2019, Google made some announcements that created some waves in the SEO industry. First, the “nofollow” link attribute was going to be treated as a hint, rather than a signal not to count a link when determining a page’s ranking. This means that Google can choose to take some nofollow links into consideration when ranking certain pages. Second, they announced two new options intended to be the next evolution of the nofollow tag. Site owners are able to tag their links with “sponsored” or “ugc,” which add more specificity to identifying the types of links they want Google to ignore.
However, SEO experts have admitted that it is difficult to see any benefits to adopting these new tags right away. Google has stated that it is the user’s choice if they want to use the tags or not, because “nofollow” still works fine for sponsored links and user-generated content. Clayton Johnson of The HOTH believes that most brands won’t adopt the new tags if they have no reason to, but if and when the majority of sites start using these tags, Google may decide to have them affect page rankings.
Google does have a history of making unannounced changes to algorithms, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see a sudden change in your rankings for pages using the sponsored and ugc tags. To that end, it’s best to identify which link attributes are on your page and observe your page rankings to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is happening.