Why noindex a page or nofollow a link?

Some of the pages of your site serve a purpose, but that purpose isn’t ranking in search engines or even getting traffic to your site. These pages need to be there, as glue for other pages or simply because regulations require them to be accessible on your website. If you regularly read our blog, you’ll know how noindex or nofollow can help you deal with these pages. However, if you are new to these terms, please read on and let me explain what they are, and what pages they might apply to!

If you want to know how to noindex a post in WordPress in a super-easy way, you should read this post: How to noindex a post in WordPress: the easy way.

What is noindex and nofollow?

Both are settings you can add to your robots meta tag. Want to know more about that? We wrote quite an extensive ultimate guide on the robots meta tag that you should read.

In short:

  • It looks like this in most cases:
    <meta name="robots" content="[VALUE1,VALUE2]">
  • VALUE1 and VALUE2 are set to index, follow by default, meaning the page at hand can be indexed and all links on that page can be followed by search engine spiders to index the pages they link to.
  • VALUE1 and VALUE2 can be set to noindex, nofollow as well. noindex means that the page shouldn’t be indexed by search engines, but it doesn’t mean the search engines shouldn’t follow the links on the page. nofollow means that it also shouldn’t follow the links.

Pages that you might want to noindex

Author archives on a one-author blog

If you are the only one writing for your blog, your author pages are probably 90% the same as your blog homepage. That’s of no use to Google and can be considered duplicate content. To keep these out of the search results, you can noindex them.

Certain (custom) post types

Sometimes a plugin or a web developer adds a custom post type that you don’t want to be indexed. At Yoast, for example, we use custom pages for our products, as we are not a regular online shop that sells physical products. So, we don’t need a product image, filters like dimensions and technical specifications on a tab next to the description. Therefore, we noindex the regular product pages WooCommerce outputs and are using our own pages. Indeed, we noindex the product post type.

By the way, I have seen shop solutions that added things like dimensions and weight as a custom post type as well. These pages are considered to be low-quality content. You’ll understand that these pages have no use for a visitor or Google, so need to be kept out of the search result pages.

Thank you pages

That page serves no other purpose than to thank your customer/newsletter subscriber/first-time commenter. These pages are usually thin content pages, with upsell and social share options, but no value, content-wise. Those pages shouldn’t be in the results pages!

Admin and login pages

Of course, login pages shouldn’t be in Google. But these are. Keep yours out of the index by adding that noindex. Exceptions are the login pages that serve a community, like Dropbox or similar services. Just ask yourself if you would google one of your login pages if you were not in your company. If not, it’s probably safe to say that Google doesn’t need to index these login pages. Luckily, if you are running WordPress, you’re safe as the CMS noindexes these pages automatically.

Internal search results

Internal search results are pretty much the last pages Google would want to send its visitors to. If you want to ruin a search experience, you link to other search pages, instead of an actual result. But the links on a search result page are still very valuable, you definitely want Google to follow them. So, all links should be followed, and the robots meta setting should be:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

Yoast SEO makes sure your internal search pages are set to noindex by default. It’s one of Yoast SEO’s hidden features. This is not an editable setting, because it’s simply how it should be done according to the Google Guidelines.

For developers only: If you want to change this, this can be done by using one of our filters. An example can be found here.

Links that you might want to nofollow

For all the examples mentioned above, there is no need to nofollow the links on these pages. You don’t want to show them in the search results, but you do want Google to follow the links. Now, when should you add a nofollow to your robots meta tag?

Google roughly indicates that there are three reasons to nofollow links:

  1. Untrusted content
  2. Paid links
  3. Crawl prioritization
nofollow links

For instance, we add a nofollow tag to links in comments. We don’t know what all of you are dropping in there, right? It could be anything, like #1 and #2 from the list above. Regarding #3, this could, for instance, apply to login links, which we sometimes find on WordPress websites (see image on the right). It’s no use having a Googlebot go over these links: they add no value. These should be nofollowed.

All of the above is very much on a link level. But, if you have, for instance, a page that lists SEO books, with a surplus of Amazon affiliate links, these could be of value to your site for your users. But I’d nofollow that entire page if there’s nothing else that matters on the page. You might have it indexed, though. Just make sure you cloak your links the right way.

To be honest, on a regular website, I don’t think there are a lot of pages I’d set to nofollow. Check for yourself if you have any content that mainly contains links like the ones Google indicated, and decide if Google should follow them or not.


As we have seen, whether or not to noindex a page or nofollow a link boils down to two questions: do you want this page to show up in the search results pages and should search engines follow the links on this page? For ‘thank you’ pages or login pages, for example, the answer to the first questions is “no”, for a page with loads of affiliate links, the answer to the second question is “no”. Keep the examples from this post in mind and you shouldn’t have any more trouble deciding the answers for your own site!

PS. Did you noindex a post or page while you didn’t mean to? No worries, as you can fix an accidental noindex easily!

Read more: How to noindex a post »

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9 Responses to Why noindex a page or nofollow a link?

  1. s
    s  • 1 year ago

    hi. thank you it was useful for me. what about some pages like FAQ, contact , about us ?

  2. Veeble
    Veeble  • 1 year ago

    Hey Michiel, thank you for sharing such an amazing post. Being a newbie the understanding of this difference plays a vital role in my business. Keep sharing such insightful posts

  3. James Thomas
    James Thomas  • 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing. Awesome post! as I am a newbie to SEO, this post helped me a lot

  4. Suman Gaudel
    Suman Gaudel  • 1 year ago

    Pretty understandable. But may I ask one question that I am running single author blog. Should I no-index category and tag ?

    • Luis
      Luis  • 1 year ago

      I’m wondering the same question, will it be better not to index them just like the Author listing pages?

  5. Pragathi
    Pragathi  • 1 year ago

    Thanks for the blog.
    You probably have touched on every point about No follow index here.
    But I think most link seekers are getting it all wrong.

  6. Sylwia
    Sylwia  • 1 year ago

    It’s really important to noindex searching results on our websites. If we don’t do it, we’re going to have a duplicate content.

  7. Dedicated-VPN
    Dedicated-VPN  • 1 year ago

    The difference between do follow and no follow plays a vital role in deciding the landing pages. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Yogesh Khetani
    Yogesh Khetani  • 1 year ago

    I have to do de-index Admin and login pages, I will implement that now. Thanks for the check list.