Google Explains The Index, Follow Meta Tag

Google Explains The Index, Follow Meta Tag

Google updates its search engine regularly to provide the best results for users. And Google explains how it works and what SEO experts can do to improve their sites. One of the things that publishers and SEO experts can use is a meta tag for Google, also known as a robot tag for Google. Well, it explains how tags tell Google how to crawl and index a web page. 

Google’s John Mueller answered the question about what happens if the robot tag is missing on Reddit, which might surprise many publishers and SEO experts.

In this article, we will be diving into the topic of meta tags for Google or Robot Tag for Google in depth. 

Stay tuned! 

What Is a Meta Robot Tag?

However, robots' meta directives are like instructions for website crawlers. It tells the crawlers how to check and list the content on a webpage. There are two types: one is part of the webpage's HTML code, called the web server, which sends the meta robots tag, and the other is HTTP headers, known as x-robots-tag.

Keep in mind that web crawlers are compelled to follow the instructions of the robot's meta tag.

Well, there are many ways to pass through it, but here are some tips that John Mueller has for you! 

Check it out!

Image Source: Search Engine Journal

The above meta tags gives instructions include things like "noindex" or "nofollow," which tell crawlers to not index the content on the webpage and to not follow any links. 

Parameters like, 

Image Source- Search Engine Journal 

The above parameter here commands search engines to index the content and follow all the links. 

Most of the time, you will notice the above meta tag. However, the thing is there is a significant amount of misunderstanding about it as well. 

You might question, Why?

Well, because Google can ignore bad links (nofollow) while the good links (follow) are normal, Google does not need to see the tail. 

Here’s the catch! 

That is not how Google uses those directives, according to the answer given by John Mueller. 

So, let’s take a moment to understand what the Google Updates on the robot tag for Google are. 

Use of Robot Meta Tags 

Ever wondered how Google knows what to show when you search? 

Well, that's where Robot Meta Tags come into play. They are like the directors telling Google how to handle your webpage. 

So, give specific instructions to Google on what to include in search results, whether to follow the links, index the images, show cached results, or display a snippet of your page.

Dive in further to understand how Robot Meta Tags affect your SEO. 

How do Robot Meta Tags Affect Your SEO?

Now, the biggest question is, why should you care about these meta tags and how they can impact your site's SEO? 

Well, Google explains that these tags provide essential guidance for how your pages get treated in search results. 

So, with each Google update, understanding and using meta tags can have a huge impact on your SEO game. Moreover, these tags tell search engines which pages to crawl and index, making it super handy for large or frequently updated sites like yours!

Well, picture this: 

Not every page on your site needs to be a search engine superstar. You wouldn't want Google to waste time indexing pages like those from your staging site, thank you or confirmation pages, admin or login pages, internal search results, or even pay-per-click (PPC) landing pages. That's where your meta tags step in, acting as the superhero for targeted crawling.

Now, let's break it down! 

Google explains that using meta tags helps optimise how your pages show up in search results. It means when Google updates its algorithms, your meta tags for Google become your secret weapon to keep things running smoothly. 

So, the next time you ever wonder about SEO, remember: a well-placed meta tag is like giving Google a roadmap through your site, ensuring it focuses on what matters most to you.

What is the effect of Missing The Meta Robots Index Tag?

Well, a person on Reddit asked, Google John Mueller on it. 

Here is what the person asked, 

“I’m a bit confused with a website I’m working on.

So, this is what the meta snippets on most of the websites I work on look like:

But, on the website at hand, the ‘index’ tag is missing.

My question is: What’s the effect of the site missing the ‘index’ tag.”

Here’s what John Mueller from Google replied to it, 

“The “index” robots meta tag has no function (at least in Google) – it’s completely ignored. Also “, follow”.

Google has & to document the meta tags that have functions. You can use anything else, it’ll be ignored. is an option, if you want to throw people off.”

To further understand, let’s answer the most frequently asked questions. 

Why Google Ignores Robots Index & Follow

Well, it's pretty straightforward!

Indexing and following links are Google's default actions. You see, search engine robots, like Googlebot, naturally index content and follow links – it's what they're designed to do. You don't have to tell them to do these things explicitly; it's in their job description.

According to Google's documentation on robot tags, the default values are "index" and "follow," and you don't need to specify them. Google explains that these are the standard settings.

Now, if the specific robot meta tag you want to use isn't on Google's approved list, guess what? 

Googlebot is going to brush it off without a second thought. So, when it comes to meta tags for Google or the robot tag for Google, then stick to what's on their list – it's the language Google understands best!

Is Index Follow Completely a Waste?

Find out what Bing’s documentation says about the index directive, 

“By default we assume “index”, but if needed you can use to explicitly state that we may index the page.”

And about the following directive, here’s what they say, 

“By default we assume “follow”, but you can explicitly state “follow” if so desired.”

Bottom Line 

To conclude, to help keep your site on the right track, ensure you follow the rules and prevent further issues by optimising your site to make it easy for search engines to index and understand the content. However, if you feel meta description is not necessary, leave it out. 

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