noindex robots

Which pages should I noindex or nofollow?

Which pages should I noindex or nofollow?

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 whatever regulations require them to be accessible on your website. As a regular visitor to our website, you know what noindex or nofollow can do to these pages. If you are new to these terms, please read on and let me explain what they are and what pages they might apply to!

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What is noindex or nofollow?

Both are settings you can add to your robots meta tag. We did 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 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, we use custom pages for our products, as we are not a regular online shop that sells, for instance, kitchen appliances. 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 will 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. Usually thin content, or upsell and social share options, but no added value content-wise.

Admin and login pages

Of course, your login pages are not in Google. But these are. Keep them 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 for 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 pages.

Internal search results

Internal search results are like the last pages Google wants to point its visitors to. If you want to ruin a search experience, you link to other search pages. But the links on that search result page are still very valuable for Google, so all links should be followed. The robots meta setting should be:
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

The same setting goes for all the examples mentioned above, there is no need to nofollow the links on these pages. Now, when should you add a nofollow to your robots meta tag?

Pages that you might want to nofollow

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

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

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 from the #1 and #2 above. With regards to number 3, this could, for instance, apply to login links, that we sometimes find on WordPress websites, see image on the right. It’s no use having a Googlebot go over these links, as for search engines, they add no value. These are nofollowed.

All of the above is very much on a link level. But if you have for instance a page that shows SEO books, with a surplus of Amazon affiliate links, these might add 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.

Changing SEO insights

At Yoast, we always try to keep you on top of your SEO game, without per se bugging you about it. One of the settings in Yoast SEO that we have had for years, the “Noindex subpages of archives” checkbox is one of those. It made all the sense in the world to noindex, follow these, and have Google index just the main page, the first page of your (f.i.) category archive.

We were always aware that Google was getting better and better at understanding rel="next" and rel="prev" on these subpages of archives. Yoast SEO adds these tags as well. At this point, we know that rel="next" and rel="prev" cover the way archives should be indexed and noindex-ing subpages isn’t necessary anymore, so we’ve removed that setting from our plugin altogether to make sure it’s done right on your site!

Read more: ‘Prevent your site from being indexed, the right way’ »


24 Responses to Which pages should I noindex or nofollow?

  1. pilgrim011
    By pilgrim011 on 12 March, 2018

    My take on noindex is that I use them only for WordPress tags and category pages, since I don’t want those to create duplicate content. Nofollow is only for few websites that I have designed, and want to show them off to potential clients, but I have no reason to pass them my link juice.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 12 March, 2018

      Hi! We look at tag and category pages quite differently. In fact, category pages, when optimized well, could make great cornerstone content pages, because they collect and show the content you have on a particular topic. In that case, you will have to create some excellent unique content on the category page too though.

  2. Somnath Jadhav
    By Somnath Jadhav on 11 March, 2018

    Thanks for sharing useful information.
    It could clear my doubts regarding nofollow and noindex.

  3. Suresh Dubey
    By Suresh Dubey on 10 March, 2018

    Hey Michiel,
    Can we apply noindex and nofollow to the pages/posts which is already ranked in Google but due to some reasons I want to take down those posts?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 12 March, 2018

      Hi Suresh, Yes, you can use noindex to make sure Google doesn’t show the post on the SERPs.

  4. nexvan
    By nexvan on 10 March, 2018

    Thanks was helpful

  5. Chris
    By Chris on 9 March, 2018

    I have a question abt nofollow. Let’s say you have a link to some page that is not your website. I put nofollow on. Is it the correct thing to do?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 12 March, 2018

      Hi Chris, not necessarily. It depends on the site you link to. If you think that page ‘deserves’ to be found by people using Google you shouldn’t put nofollow on that link. If you think that page shouldn’t appear in the search engines, like an affiliate page, you can use nofollow.

  6. Charles
    By Charles on 9 March, 2018

    I wish you could be more explicit with examples because I just read this and feel like a wasted my time. Please write something about this important topic for those of us who are just now realizing perhaps some of our cloaked affiliate links should (or should not?) be nofollow. This was too high level for us.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 12 March, 2018

      Hi Charles, we’re sorry if this post didn’t meet your expectations. Perhaps this article is more useful in your situation? https://yoast.com/cloak-affiliate-links/

  7. James
    By James on 9 March, 2018

    A very useful tip. So I’m trying to noindex my author page. But Plugin not support. Can you give me a specific guide?
    Thank you

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 12 March, 2018

      You can! If you go to the plugin you should select ‘Search Appearance’ in the SEO menu. Then go to the tab ‘Archives’ and the first one you see is the author archive, just disable it by moving the toggle to ‘disable’!

  8. Shruti Panwar
    By Shruti Panwar on 8 March, 2018

    Interesting Post!
    Everyone should know about the dofollow and nofollow links. This entirely depends on the niche of the site. If it is an e-commerce site then payment gateway, Thank you page, forgot the password, sign up/ registration account should have noindex and nofollow tags.

  9. Kang Ganjar
    By Kang Ganjar on 8 March, 2018

    Most bloggers don’t know the nav rel settings and what its mean. I just liked the mentioned that Google know well for now on this rel mean and hopefully “new-blogger” will not getting any duplicate errors.

  10. Carsten Meiselbach
    By Carsten Meiselbach on 8 March, 2018

    Hello Yoast-Team,
    thanks for this post!

    I’m using rel=”nofollow” for 3 things:
    – Printer-friendly page, coming with options e.g. to hide images. Example:
    https://happycarb.de/rezepte/backen/low-carb-krustenbrot/?pageprint
    – Affiliate Links like this: /empfiehlt/amazon/haferkleie-von-bioZentrale
    Redirected then to the Amazon Commerce page.
    – For Comment pagination

    I’ve got a question concerning rel=”nofollow” for paginated comments. On my Website, comments are shown on page load for the newest 5 entries. Rest of comments available are loaded with AJAX (without a new full page load). Problem: URL-parameter, that is used by the Plugin wpDiscz, is making trouble with duplicate title and description entries.
    Example link: https://happycarb.de/rezepte/backen/low-carb-krustenbrot/?wpdParentID=22357
    So I set this link to nofollow. Problem than: not all comments and releated (positive) signals about the activity for that page are send to Google.
    This question might be more related to pagination, but the only solution that I found currently was to set the link as nofollow.
    Maybe, the wpdParentID-parameter should be better used with the hash-parameter? #wpdParentID=22357 …

    Best regards,
    Carsten

    • Michiel Heijmans
      By Michiel Heijmans on 12 March, 2018

      Thanks for your comment, Carsten! Not really sure why you’d want paginated comments, to be honest. Is there no way to simply show all comments instead? That seems to make more sense to me? If this is a wpDiscz issue, please refer to their support instead. Personally, I wouldn’t paginate comments, but as the comment you refer to looks a lot like a forum post instead with all the comments, nofollow makes sense? Let me know if I misunderstood your question, Carsten!

  11. Anil Agarwal
    By Anil Agarwal on 8 March, 2018

    Great post as usual I think it’s really important to know the difference between dofollow and nofollow links when it comes to a SEO link building plays a major role and your internal link structure is also one of the key things that can determine your success.

    So make sure to know the difference between dofollow and nofollow links and also find out what are all the pages you need to add nofollow links there will be pages like affiliate product links, blogroll links, few external links or sponsored posts etc where you need to be using nofollow links instead of to follow links.

    And also it’s always better to use nofollow links and open them in new tabs when you are using social media sites link such as Facebook profiles Twitter ID Instagram etc.

    You should definitely nofollow paid links and sponsor posts because Google might even penalize your site if you are over doing them so make sure to take care of it.

    Thanks for the great share!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 12 March, 2018

      Thanks for the addition, Anil!

  12. Freddy G. Cabrera
    By Freddy G. Cabrera on 8 March, 2018

    Hey Michiel!

    You know what, this is something that I need to take care of for my internet marketing blog. It is true, we don’t all of our pages to be indexed in Google.

    It’s going to take some time to do this but it has to be done. I gotta clean up my SEO on my blog!

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips!

    Best regards! :D

  13. Thierry
    By Thierry on 7 March, 2018

    If I put noindex to a certain page, shall I also remove it from the sitemap.xml? Ex. Policy page

    • Thierry
      By Thierry on 8 March, 2018

      thanks a lot for your responses.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 8 March, 2018

      Aayush is right, with the last update this is automatically taken care of!

    • Aayush Bhaskar Verma
      By Aayush Bhaskar Verma on 7 March, 2018

      With yoast, they are automatically removed from sitemaps.

      • digvijay
        By digvijay on 8 March, 2018

        Yoast Plugin for wordpress is really useful. I am using this plugin on my blog since 2011. You can fix lot of things with that plugin.


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