Google Update March 2020: How It Affects SEO

February 24, 2020

The Month of March will be ushered in just a few days, and every digital marketer will be looking forward to Google Update in March 2020. Every now and then, internet Giants (Google) do roll-out several changes with respect to Search. Sometimes, these figures plummet from hundreds into thousands. For instance, 2018 alone saw the release of 3,234 updates. Looking through those figures, about 9 updates were released daily on the average. And this is in fact x8 of the releases made 9 years earlier. Even though most of these updates are often minor, some aren’t. You can just take a look at Panda and Penguin- two significant changes on their algorithm that significantly changed search results.

 

 


Google algorithm constantly changes. It is important for webmasters to identify when and what has changed in the algorithm of a search engine. Knowing when a major Google update takes place will assist search marketers to explain organic website traffic, changes in ranking and enhance SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Also, knowing what to expect will prepare you to take actionable steps to make the most of the release. Here you will find all you need to know about Google Update March 2020, its key changes, how it impacts SEO, and what you must do. 


What You Must Know about Google Update in March 2020 
In the latter part of 2019, an announcement was made by Google about its update that would come in two parts. This update will change its treatment of no-follows. We have already seen the initial phase of the update roll-out, and it affects rankings. The second phase will be released in Google’s March 2020 update. 


What exactly is the March 2020 Nofollow Update?
No-follow or rel=”no-follow” is used by websites to instruct Google and other search engines. This link attributes basically prevent search engines from crawling and indexing their sites.


The No-follow update in 2020 will change how Google crawls and treats no-follow links. No-follow links were previously treated by Google as directives. Google obeyed their attributes, ensuring that No-follow links were neither crawled or indexed. At present, things are about to change. 


Although categorically claiming that no-follows aren’t direct signals for ranking, Google has indicated using it in verifying content’s context, which in itself is a serious factor in ranking. In recent years, websites have increasingly used “no-follow” attributes than “do follow”, its counterpart. Sometimes, you will observe a website attributing all its outbound links as a “no-follow,” making ranking difficult. Google hasn’t been oblivious to these methods and has effectively moved to change things. 


This is a transformation from Google when taking from the perspective of its actions in 2005 when the search giant introduced the “no-follow” attribute. Back then, there was a need to halt the indulgence by SEOs in creating spamming contents. These contents were used in building back-links. 15 years on, we have arrived at a point where the company boasts a very advanced algorithm that understands spammy strategies, including the comment spam. And this led to the modification of the no-follow and addition of two rel attributes. 


1.) rel=” UGC.”
This attribute is great for sites renowned for publishing much user-generated content. Websites such as Wikipedia and other forums are ideal for this attribute. The rel=” UGC” is used within links found in contents generated by users. 


2.) rel=” sponsored.”
Google aims at identifying links found in sites with monetary benefits, hence the introduction of this attribute. For instance, rel=” sponsored” can be utilized in sponsored posts, advertisement links, and other paid situations. 


Subsequently, these new attributes will be used by Google to understand linked websites. What this simply means is that Google will now completely disregard only the rel=” do follow” attribute. 


When will Google’s Nofollow Update take effect?
Google will begin treating no-follow links as hints to crawl and index a web-page from the 1st of March, 2020. It even made an announcement to that effect. Every link attribute, no-follow, UGC, and sponsored links will be incorporated into a ranking. 


Why the change in the algorithm by Google?
By changing its algorithm, Google aims at improving its search result. The goal is to get relevant search results to users, thereby affecting the ranking of websites on its search result page. Nevertheless, webmasters are never taken unaware of these changes. They are notified to enable them to make the needed adjustments to get the most of Google Search. 


As Google focuses more attention on back-links, it has taken the step on introducing these updates. Another reason is the undue advantage derived from the use of no-follow links by several websites. Nevertheless, Google is constantly on the move and would not stop bringing changes to its platform in the foreseeable future. 


What does Google’s no-follow update in March 2020 affect most?
Part of the statement released by Google indicates that everyone solely making the use of no-follow attributes to prevent Google from crawling a page and indexing it will be affected. Instead, robust mechanisms found on Google’s help page should be used to block a page from getting crawled or indexed. 

 

What Site Owners and SEOs must know about Google’s March 2020 Update


Review how you use no-follows
1.) Knowing that Google would alter its system on the first day of March 2020 is not enough to put you on the right track. You must review how you use no-follow links as the poor use of this feature may yield unintended consequences. There are quite a number of reasons why webmasters and publishers alike would want to prevent some pages from getting crawled and indexed by Google. If you fall into this category, making use of no-follows is the common way to do it. Some of the common pages linked to a no-follow include login pages, user profiles, and thin pages on websites. That will change from the first day of March as Google will change the way it handles no-follow. 


Preventing the crawling and indexing of your web-page by using no-follow isn’t a good practice, never was and never will be, especially as there are other ways to prevent the crawling and indexing of your page. Such as making use of meta robot no-index. If there is a need to prevent Google from crawling your page, following Google’s recommendation will suffice.


A new ranking factor
2.) Exactly how this update to no-follow will affect rankings in yet to be ascertained as Google doesn’t give out much on ranking factors. But it will definitely affect rankings. Even Google testified to incorporating no-follows as ranking considerations along with the other newly introduced attributes. Only time will tell how valuable it is to rank. The pages being crawled and indexed by Google will determine how well it affects rankings. This may result in rules being set to determine what pages to rank. Right now, we Google is discouraging low-quality content, and so, it is likely to result in not indexing pages of low quality. 


3.) An existing attribute should be left unchanged
Most outbound links on your website will obviously be attributed “no-follow.” Even though Google has tweaked its algorithm in a way, nothing major has changed to the way it reads no-follow tags. Instead, you are recommended to make use of the new attributes. These two new attributes are to be used based on the link’s context. 


Other Google Updates in 2020
Google is ever on the move. Prior to this time, the search engine giants have already released an update on January 13th, 2020 i.e., the January 2020 Core Algorithm Update. This core update is remarkedly rocking many websites’ search rankings. What is more, it resulted in several noteworthy changes that can have a huge effect on SEO. These include:


Googlebot
There is an update to the Googlebot. The previously-used user agent is being wound-down and replaced by a bot making use of Google’s Chrome-based browser. Websites will see continuous improvement in indexing in 2020 as a result of this. The new Googlebot UA is currently seen worldwide, and a lot of it will be seen onwards. You can access more information to the UA strings showing up subsequently on the Central blog of Google’s Webmaster.


Favicon Update in Search
Both mobile and desktop search results have seen the addition of favicons with the January update. Although, it keeps dividing opinions amongst users as some find it annoying. Other users appreciate the efforts of branding searches with website icons/logos.


Desktop’s Black Ad Labels
Google has tested black ad labels lately on both mobile and desktop devices. Well, the January 2020 update reveals black ad labels in the local pack on desktops. This is great news for local businesses. Locating your business on the top of the pack locally is now possible in a shorter time. It might just cost you some a little bit using Google Ads. Also, this ad update shows just how Google attempts to blend organic and paid Search- by blurring the line separating them. This is very different from older versions that had glaring ad labels. As a result of this move, an increasing number of users will click on paid ads as they are similar to organic searches. 


TLS Notices 
There is also a change with Google Search Console. If you run SSL encryption, you must not run anything lower than TLS 1.2 on your website. This is because such lower versions are deemed outdated and further result in lowering your rank on Google’s SERP. This is damaging to site traffic. 


Snippets Change in Google’s SERP
Instead of position 0, featured snippets can now be found on rank 1. Previously, Google’s SERP revealed a featured snippet accompanied by ten other results. Right now, page 1 loads up the featured snippet, with just nine results placed after it. This could affect rankings crawlers immensely. Especially those who don’t rank featured snippets. What this means is that different organic results with the same featured snippets’ link are moved to top page 2. 


Another big snippet change is the appearance of featured snippets on organic results’ right side. Featured snippets found on the right sidebar are no longer deduped by Google as they now appear in organic listings. 


You must note that not all these changes are entirely new with this update. Still, they are featured in more queries than before. 


Wrapping Up
To make the most of Google’s March 2020 Update, you must avoid being on the wrong side of the new rules. As Google take more strides in understanding different link type utilized by websites, more changes will arise. Now is the time for webmasters and SEOs to begin making the recommended adjustments by Google. For one thing, it is the best way to avoid being penalized, which is costly. Another thing is the priority given to websites following their guidelines. Whatever the case may be, your website will be better off on Google’s good books.

 

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