Google SEO News: Changes to Nofollow Links & Review Rich Results

In their very first episode of Google Search News on the Google Webmasters YouTube channel, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller sits down to discuss some of the latest Google SEO news. Of the updates Google recently made to improve its search functions, two, in particular, stood out. Google announced an expansion of nofollow links as well as changes to review rich search results.

New Attributes for Outbound Links

Google introduced the rel=nofollow attribute on links 15 years ago. Taking into account the major changes the internet and online content has gone through since then, they have revamped the nofollow attribute and expanded it. Google has added two new attributes for outbound links.

  • rel=”sponsored” – Marks links as advertisements, sponsorships, and other types of paid placements, often called paid links.
  • rel=”ugc” – Marks links created by users in user-generated content such as comments and forum posts. This helps mitigate the negative effect of comment spam. Consider not using this attribute on the links posted by trustworthy contributors who consistently provide high-quality content.

These outbound link attributes will be considered hints for ranking purposes just like their “nofollow” predecessor. Existing sites don’t need to make any changes. However, the clarity offered by “sponsored” and “ugc” is an option open to both old and new sites.

Changes to Review Rich Results

This bit of Google SEO new caused a bit of a stir when it was first announced. Changes were being made on how star ratings would show up on search results and who was able to have them. There were two parts to this adjustment.

1. Review rich results are only shown for certain types of items.

Sites can no longer attach review markup to any schema type and have a star rating displayed. Google determined that star ratings on search add value for the user only in certain cases. Now, a limited selection of schema types can trigger review rich results, these include the following (and their respective subtypes).

  • org/Book
  • org/Course
  • org/CreativeWorkSeason
  • org/CreativeWorkSeries
  • org/Episode
  • org/Event
  • org/Game
  • org/HowTo
  • org/LocalBusiness
  • org/MediaObject
  • org/Movie
  • org/MusicPlaylist
  • org/MusicRecording
  • org/Organization
  • org/Product
  • org/Recipe
  • org/SoftwareApplication

2. Self-serving reviews a business or organization kept on its own website would not be shown in search.

After determining the limited value they have for users, Google will no longer be displaying self-serving reviews for LocalBusiness and Organization in search results. Reviews are considered “self-serving” when a review about a business or organization is placed on the website of that entity, either directly in their markup or through a third-party widget. Google will no longer display review rich results for LocalBusiness and Organization schema types (and their subtypes) if the entity being reviewed controls those reviews themselves.

Websites don’t have to take out the review markup or third-party review widgets they already have in place, they just won’t trigger Google to display a star rating anymore. LocalBusiness and Organization remain valid schema types for review rich results. However, unless you are adding review markup for a specific product or item or you are a review aggregator site like Yelp, star ratings for individual businesses seem to be dead.


At Tandem Interactive, our team is dedicated to keeping up with the latest Google SEO news and updates. We are a digital marketing agency in Fort Lauderdale serving clients nationwide, specializing in organic SEM, social media, neuromarketing, visual marketing, and reputation management in South Florida. We are also a Fort Lauderdale PPC agency offering award-winning pay-per-click, remarketing, and other paid online advertising services. Contact us or call (954) 519-4114 today to find out how #TeamTandem can launch your company to the next level!