Google’s average position sunset: Are you set up for the transition?

On September 30th, Google turned off average position as a metric for search campaigns and now requires advertisers to transition to new impression share and impression rate tools.

The news was first announced in February as an effort to establish more accurate and transparent forms of measurement. Advertisers now get to experience how often ads are appearing for eligible searches (share) and how often ads are showing at the top of the search results page (rate)—and while these new tools will ultimately be beneficial, the forced change from Google will undoubtedly stir up routine for many advertisers.

Here are a few ways advertisers can get set up with the rollout of new metrics.

Understanding the basics

To understand the impact of this change, let’s first define impression share and impression rate. Impression share is the percentage of impressions an ad receives compared to the total number that the ad is qualified for on the search engine results page (SERP). Impression share is a novel way to discover room for ad performance improvements—it displays any missed opportunities by showing how often a certain ad showed up in the top search results.

In contrast, the average position did not properly measure whether ads showed up above the organic results or not; it just showcased their order compared to other ads. Advertisers were left with a guessing game.

Impression rate shows advertisers how often their ads show up at the top of the SERP based on their total impressions—in other words, what percent of the time an ad is in the very top spot (absolute top) or shown anywhere above the organic search results (top). These details address another shortcoming of average position since even an ad in position two might be at the bottom of the page.

Measuring impression share and impression rate

There are three versions of impression share, all which measure ad impressions divided by the total eligible impressions for that ad, but based on different locations on the SERP:

  • Search (abs.) top IS: The new impression an ad has received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions the ad was eligible to receive in the top location. This metric is new.
  • Search top IS: The impressions an ad has received anywhere above the organic search results compared to the estimated number of impressions the ad was eligible to receive in the top location. This metric is also new.
  • Search impression share: This already-existing metric measures impressions anywhere on the page.

For the impression rate, there are two metrics that are only based on ad impressions, not the total number of eligible impressions.

  • Impr. (absolute top) %: The percent of ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Impr. (top) %: The percent of ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.

Optimizing for awareness and performance

If an advertiser is more focused on driving awareness than ROI, impression share and impression rate are both greatly valuable, as they guarantee the ads are meeting a visibility threshold and can boost awareness.

On the other hand, advertisers using Google’s new impression share options in Smart Bidding should be cautious. The impression share data is not accessible on the same day, so it’s hard to track performance – and setting a high target may significantly boost spending by making an ad eligible for additional, unwanted auctions. A better strategy for Smart Bidding is to bid to impression rate, which has data available intraday. This approach allows advertisers to optimize their impressions showing at the top of the SERP.

As a general starting point, the easiest way for advertisers to set targets is to look at recent performance for campaigns across the three impression % (rate) metrics. This should ensure the smoothest transition from targeting a position to targeting impression share.

Impression share metrics table updated

Setting up for the transition

Advertisers using Google have been encouraged to focus on the impression metrics for some time. Still, many advertisers probably feel an impact from the shift to these metrics, particularly because of the new obstacles it presents for bidding strategies. Therefore, advertisers should set the right bids to achieve their shared goal.

With this switch to the new metrics, advertisers should check any rules that support average position, and update reports and saved columns that include the average position. The following applications may include average position:

  • Bidding settings and AdWords rules
  • Custom columns
  • Saved reports (especially any with filters)
  • AdWords scripts
  • Saved column sets
  • Scorecards that use average position in dashboards
  • URLs using the {ad position} parameter

Google announced it will be automatically migrating “Target Position on Page” bid strategies, but there’s no certainty on a timeline or details regarding the migration. Therefore, advertisers should watch for any campaign targeting average position from now on to ensure they’re getting the expected results.

Wes MacLaggan is SVP of Marketing at Marin Software.

The post Google’s average position sunset: Are you set up for the transition? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin November 12, 2019 0 Comments

The evolution of Google’s rel “no follow”

Google updated the no-follow attribute on Tuesday 10th September 2019 regarding which they say it aims to help fight comment spam. The Nofollow attribute has remained unchanged for 15 years, but Google has had to make this change as the web evolves.

Google also announced two new link attributes to help website owners and webmasters clearly call out what type for link is being used,

rel=”sponsored”: Use the sponsored attribute to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.

rel=”ugc”: UGC stands for User Generated Content, and the ugc attribute value is recommended for links within user-generated content, such as comments and forum posts.

rel=”nofollow”: Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.

March 1st, 2020 changes

Up until the 1st of March 2020, all of the link attributes will serve as a hint for ranking purposes, anyone that was relying on the rel=nofollow to try and block a page from being indexed should look at using other methods to block pages from being crawled or indexed.

John Mueller mentioned the use of the rel=sponsered in one of the recent Google Hangouts.

Source: YouTube

The question he was asked

“Our website has a growing commerce strategy and some members of our team believe that affiliate links are detrimental to our website ranking for other terms do we need to nofollow all affiliate links? If we don’t will this hurt our organic traffic?”

John Mueller’s answer

“So this is something that, I think comes up every now and then, from our point of view affiliate links are links that are placed with a kind of commercial background there, in that you are obviously trying to earn some money by having these affiliate link and pointing to a distributor that you trust and have some kind of arrangement with them.

From our point of view that is perfectly fine, that’s away on monetizing your website your welcome to do that.

We do kind of expect that these types of links are marked appropriately so that we understand these are affiliate links, one way to do that is to use just a nofollow.

A newer way to do that to let us know about this kind of situation is to use the sponsored rel link attribute, that link attribute specifically tells us this is something to do with an advertising relationship, we treat that the same as a no-follow.

A lot of the affiliate links out there follow really clear patterns and we can recognize those so we try to take care of those on our side when we can  but to be safe we recommend just using a nofollow or rel sponsered link attribute, but in general this isn’t something that would really harm your website if you don’t do it, its something that makes it a little clearer for us what these links are for and if we see for example a website is engaging in large scale link selling then that’s something where we might take manual action, but for the most part if our algorithms just recognize these are links we don’t want to count then we just won’t count them.”

How quickly are website owners acting on this?

This was only announced by Google in September and website owners have until march to make the change required but data from Semrush show that website owners are starting to change over to the new rel link attribute with.

The data shows that out of From one million domains, only 27,763 has at least one UGC link but the interesting fact is that if we’ll look at those 27,763 domains that have at least one UGC link, each domain from this list on average has 20,904,603 follow backlinks, 6,373,970 – no follow, 22.8 – UGC, 55.5 – sponsored.


This is still very early days but we can see that there is change and I would expect that to grow significantly into next year.


I believe that Google is going to use the data from these link attributes to catch out website owners that continue to sell links and mark them up incorrectly in order to pass any sort of SEO value other to another website in any sort of agreement Paid or otherwise.

Paul Lovell is an SEO Consultant And Founder at Always Evolving SEO. He can be found on Twitter @_PaulLovell.

The post The evolution of Google’s rel “no follow” appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin October 29, 2019 0 Comments

What Google’s change in nofollow link means

On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, Google announced that now was the time for the nofollow attribute to evolve. Introduced almost 15 years ago, the nofollow attribute was brought about with a vision to eradicate spam and combat links that nurtured on the advertisements or were paid for. It clearly became a Google favorite to take care of the latter. The Google link policy is here to witness new changes again.

Here’s a snippet from the official announcement:

The web has evolved since nofollow was introduced in 2005 and it’s time for nofollow to evolve as well.

Today, we’re announcing two new link attributes that provide webmasters with additional ways to identify to Google Search the nature of particular links. These, along with nofollow, are summarized below:

rel=”sponsored”: Use the sponsored attribute to identify links on your site that were created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.

rel=”ugc”: UGC stands for User Generated Content, and the UGC attribute value is recommended for links within user-generated content, such as comments and forum posts.

rel=”nofollow”: Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.”

Well, the snippet says it all. Now that Google has decided upon the evolution of the nofollow attribute and chosen to bring about two new link attributes, there are questions and queries all around. What does this announcement mean for the link building tactics that are in popular use? How is the new change going to impact the link juice of our existing links? Is there any immediate action that needs to be taken? How will this impact the overall SEO strategy of websites?

Well, this blog post is right here to help everyone out there understand this change and gain a little more perspective around it. By the end of it, you will take away the impact of the nofollow link on Google’s search algorithm and everything else mentioned above. So, let’s begin.

What is a nofollow link?

Applying a nofollow HTML tag ( rel=”nofollow”) lets you tell the search engines that you do want certain links on your website to be ignored by it. By applying this tag, the selective nofollow link ends up not bringing any link juice to your website and hence, does not impact your search engine rankings.

What the earlier nofollow policy was about?

Google’s update about combating link and comment spam brought about the rel=”nofollow” attribute in 2015. So, any hyperlink that carried the rel=”nofollow” tag carried no SEO importance or value. Hence, the malpractice of overexploiting blog and link exchange was put under check. The manipulative link building behavior was anyway deteriorating the integrity of true SEO scores. So, cautious bloggers and website owners started strictly following a nofollow rule across all of their external links. Penalization was the driving factor behind this blanket application of the rule. In other verticals, Google also wanted to make sure that sponsored and paid-for links also followed the application of nofollow attribute.

What has changed with this latest update?

The latest update will change how links and rankings are calculated. Effective from March 1, 2020, the nofollow links will be used by the search engine as a marker or hint about what to consider or exclude within search. This “hint” will help Google index or crawl. Well, this means that now Google can overlook the nofollow attribute and choose to consider it as a ranking signal.

The new update will help Google get together more data on the individual links, including the words within the anchor text. This is being done with a purpose to evaluate links and identify any link schemes or malpractices around sponsored or paid links.

As per Google – 

“Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe the content they point at. Looking at all the links we encounter can also help us better understand unnatural linking patterns. By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.”

The new update also brings two brand new link attributes, rel=”sponsored” and rel=”ugc”. These will help Google attain the necessary information on the characteristics of the links since webmasters will be providing the same to the search engine. So, the use of rel=”sponsored” would help Google identify that the tagged links on your site are part of an advertisement or an agreement or have been paid for. The rel=”ugc” tag is meant for the links coming from user-generated content (UGC) on your forum and site comments.

Given the complex implications of these Google updates, we are yet again in a position where it is unclear how these attributes are going to affect the SEO of our blogs and websites. Are these changes going to bring a positive impact or do they mean that sudden changes will be forced on our SEO moves? These two attributes will likely control more spam, as per experts. But, by this time, we really don’t know.

On the spam front, Google wrote,

“Many sites that allow third parties to contribute to content already deter link spam in a variety of ways, including moderation tools that can be integrated into many blogging platforms and human review. The link attributes of “ugc” and “nofollow” will continue to be a further deterrent. In most cases, the move to a hint model won’t change the nature of how we treat such links. We’ll generally treat them as we did with nofollow before and not consider them for ranking purposes. We will still continue to carefully assess how to use links within Search, just as we always have and as we’ve had to do for situations where no attributions were provided.”

What does the new link attribute mean for publishers?

At this moment, if you are a publisher, you might not need to make any swift changes because this is what Google has to say:

“If you use nofollow now as a way to block sponsored links or to signify that you don’t vouch for a page you link to, that will continue to be supported. There’s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have.”

For all publishers, it is best to continue with rel=”nofollow” for all sponsored links even when Google wants them to use more than one rel value on a single link. The nofollow works as it was. They can simply use “Sponsored” and “UGC” if they want to help Google identify types of links better.

If you are a publisher with true authority, Google’s change will help you immensely by reducing the unfair suppression of link authority caused by the prevalent misuse of the nofollow attribute.

Publishers should still stick to the fact that the right link earning practices are going to help them overcome the hurdles. Taking care of their site’s speed with certain website speed tools should also be a forever task for publishers. Quality link content and editorial ownership should still be their top priority. Also, using the right web hosting service can help your website in many ways in these terms.

It is best to wait for some more information to come up and then act upon it. However, if this Google update worries you, you can simply put in some time and review your link policy to make sure that your blog/website isn’t violating Google’s link scheme guidelines.

Gary Illyes from Google has clearly mentioned that the motive behind treating rel=nofollow as a hint is to improve the link signal and for returning better search results. As per Gary, nofollows were restricting the useful link signal information that Google needed on the link data. By this change, Google will be able to bring up better search results for its users. Also, there are no ranking changes expected for this change.

Google said,

“All the link attributes – sponsored, UGC, and nofollow – are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search.”

In a nutshell – what you need to do after the latest Google update

  • Bloggers and marketers don’t need to change their existing nofollows.
  • You can use more than one rel value on a link. It’s also valid to use nofollow with the new attributes — such as rel=”nofollow ugc” — if you wish to be backward-compatible with services that don’t support the new attributes.
  • You can continue using nofollow as a method for flagging certain links to avoid possible link scheme penalties. Any existing markup also does not need to be changed. Google recommends that you switch over to rel=”sponsored”.
  • You should still flag ads or sponsored links if you want to avoid a possible link scheme action. You can simply use rel=“sponsored” or rel=”nofollow” to flag these links.


As time advances on this update, we will have more solid information as to what exact changes need to be implemented in our SEO strategies if these attributes are going to affect the ranking signals. For now, it is best to wait for further information to surface and keep the right link building practices in motion.

Pawan Sahu is a digital marketer and blogger at MarkupTrend.

The post What Google’s change in nofollow link means appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin October 23, 2019 0 Comments