Noindex: Meaning & SEO Best Practices




Updated 2/3/2024

Learn about the noindex directive, or a technique to keep web pages out of search results. Find how to use it correctly for SEO.

noindex featured image - no entry sign and plants

Search engines like Google rely on massive indexes, or cached versions of web pages, for easy reference. If your content isn’t in the index, that means it cannot be found on the search engine. This guide covers the basics of the noindex directive and keeping pages out of search engines.

What is Noindex?

Noindex is a directive you can give to search engine crawlers telling them not to include a specific page in their search results. In other words, it’s like telling search engines, “You can see this page, but please don’t show it in search results.”

When to Use Noindex

You might wonder why you would want to keep a page out of search engine results. Here are a few common scenarios where it can be useful:

  1. Private or Confidential Pages: If you have pages on your website that you don’t want the public to easily find, such as a private login page or confidential data, you can use noindex to keep them out of search results.
  2. Duplicate Content: To avoid duplicate content issues, which can negatively affect your SEO, you can use noindex for the pages with substantially the same content as other pages on your site.
  3. Temporary or Promotional Pages: If you have temporary pages or pages that will soon be irrelevant (like a page for a one-time event), you can use noindex to prevent these pages from being indexed.
  4. Low-Quality Pages: If you have low-quality pages (such as tag pages on a blog) or don’t provide much value to users, it can be beneficial to use noindex.

For more, see Google’s guide on using noindex to get the most detailed advice.

How to Implement Noindex

There are a few different ways you can implement the directive. Here are the most common:

  1. Meta Tags: You can add a Noindex meta tag to the <head> section of the HTML code on the page you want to exclude from search results. The tag looks like this: <meta name="robots" content="noindex"> You can also specify Noindex for specific search engines by replacing “robots” with the search engine’s name, like Googlebot.
  2. HTTP Headers: If you can’t easily modify a page’s HTML, you can also send Noindex as an HTTP header. This needs to be done on the server side, usually in the .htaccess file, and it looks like this: X-Robots-Tag: noindex
  3. Robots.txt: It’s important to note that you should not use the robots.txt file to implement noindex. While this file can control crawling, it does not control indexing. If you block a page with robots.txt, search engines won’t crawl it, but they might still index it if other pages link to it.

Bottom Line

The noindex directive can be useful for managing your website’s pages in search results. However, it must be handled carefully to ensure you’re not removing the terms or pages you want to appear in listings. Consider the value of your pages and apply the directive accordingly. ?


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