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What are meta robots tags?

Meta robots tags appear in the <head> section of a webpage and provide certain directives to robots that crawl webpages, eg. search engine robots.

Meta robots directives include:

  • follow
  • index
  • nofollow
  • noindex
  • noarchive
  • noodp
  • noydr
  • noimagechache
  • nosnippet
  • none

If no meta robots directives are specified on a webpage, they are treated as “index, follow” by default.

meta robots tags

Example of a meta robots tag in the head section of a webpage. “values” would be replaced with the meta robots directive/s.

What does Meta Robots “follow” mean?

Meta robots “follow” allows search engines to follow links on a page. If no meta robots tags are specified, pages are treated as “follow” by default.

What does Meta Robots “index” mean?

Meta robots “index” allows search engines to index a webpage. If no meta robots tags are specified, pages are treated as “index” by default.

What does Meta Robots “noindex” mean?

Meta robots “noindex” prevents search engines from indexing the webpage – meaning that the page will not appear in the search results.

What does Meta Robots “nofollow” mean?

Meta robots “nofollow” prevents robots from following all links on a page.

What does Meta Robots “noarchive” mean?

Meta robots “noarchive” prevents search engines from storing a cached version of a page.

What does Meta Robots “noodp” mean?

Meta robots “noodp” prevents search engines from using the description from DMOZ (aka Open Directory Project – ODP) as the snippet for your page in the search results.

What does Meta Robots “noydir” mean?

Meta robots “noydir” used to prevent search engines from using the Yahoo! directory description as the snippet for your page in the search results. The “noydir” tag was deprecated since the Yahoo! directory closed down in 2015.

What does Meta Robots “noimagecache” mean?

Meta robots “noimagecache” prevents search engines from crawling and indexing images on a page.

However, if the same images are used elsewhere on a site, they can still be crawled and indexed if the “noimagecache” tag is not used on those pages.

What does Meta Robots “nosnippet” mean?

Meta robots “nosnippet” prevents search engines from displaying a description snippet of this page in their search results. It also prevents search engines from caching the webpage.

What does Meta Robots “none” mean?

Meta robots “none” is the same as using “noindex,nofollow” in combination. The page will not be indexed and robots will not follow links on the page.

Notes

If you would like search engines to read your meta robots directives, they must be crawlable and not blocked in robots.txt.

Here is a link to Google’s guide on using the meta robots tag:
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2007/03/using-robots-meta-tag.html

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