In 2019 Google came out with new rules and new types of link attributes, the new attributes were ugc and sponsored, to be companions with the nofollow link attributes. Google said back then it was to help Google understand links better and that we, SEOs, don’t need to worry about it too much. Well, Google’s John Mueller was asked about it on Friday and he said Google may try to treat them differently over time.
John was asked about this in the Friday SEO hangout at the 35:56 mark where the question was “From a ranking point of view does Google treat nofollow, ugc and sponsor rel attributes any differently?”
John responded “we do try to understand these and try to treat them appropriately so I could imagine in our systems that we might learn over time to treat them slightly differently.” Then John added another line to downplay that difference, saying “but in general they’re all with the same theme in that you’re telling us these are links that are placing because of this reason and Google doesn’t need to take them into account.”
So yes, Google wants to treat them differently, over time, as they learn how it might benefit the search company to treat them differently but overall, they all say about the same thing – do not trust or follow this link.
You can listen to him say this here:
Now, remember, when Google launched this new change for the nofollow related link attributes, Google said we should not expect to see changes in search with this change. Currently, it seems like this is just a policy change and nothing was actually changed here – but it is hard to say. We know Gary Illyes of Google is working something up around this. There is still confusion with this change and I think that is because Google has not fully decided yet how to use it and apply those changes it announced as a policy change.
Forum discussion at YouTube Community.