Noindex and Nofollow usage in WordPress

Noindex and nofollow usage in WordPress

Noindex and nofollow attributes determine which parts of your site should or should not be indexed or followed by search engine spiders. So, how do you implement these attributes and which pages should have the “noindex” and which links to “nofollow”? In this article, you’ll read everything about the noindex and nofollow usage.

Not all parts on your site serve a purpose for the search engines. In most cases, the search engine spiders don’t need to crawl through your entire WordPress site. Therefore, you should carefully select which pages to noindex or nofollow. Let’s first discuss the implementation of noindex and nofollow.

Noindex or Nofollow

Noindex and nofollow are both meta tags that can be applied in the page’s HTML code, or by returning a noindex header in the HTTP request. The noindex attribute indicates which pages shouldn’t be indexed and the nofollow attribute indicates which links shouldn’t be followed. Make sure to distinguish these terms before you implement them. Let’s have a look at the robot meta tags:

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In this case, the page won’t be indexed and the links won’t be followed. These meta tags are often used when it concerns a test environment or when the webmaster wants to hide content from being indexed.

This page will not be indexed. However, the embedded links refer to valuable pages and should therefore be indexed. This meta tag is often applied to product filter pages to avoid duplicate content.

When it concerns index and nofollow, the website administrator is sure about the on-page content quality but isn’t completely confident that the backlinks should be followed. For instance, when linking to external resources that you do not necessarily trust.

Add Nofollow attribute in WordPress

You can add the nofollow attribute to individual links to avoid search engines to follow them. A normal link in HTML code looks like this:

When you add the “nofollow” attribute, the HTML code looks like this:

When you add this meta tag, search engines won’t follow nor appoint value to the link. You can also download the Rel Nofollow Checkbox plugin from the WordPress Plugin Repository. Once you activated the plugin, you’ll notice that you can insert or edit every hyperlink and add a rel=”nofollow” code.

Noindex and Nofollow usage in WordPress


How to add Noindex or Nofollow attributes with Yoast SEO

Yoast’s SEO plugin has a specific checkbox that is called “Noindex subpages of archives“. However, users have to upgrade to a premium account to get access. Once you do so, go to Advanced features and optionally choose noindex in the blank field after Meta Robots Index.

Which pages to Noindex or Nofollow

Default meta tag robots (index, follow)

By default, the search engine spiders will crawl through your pages and links. You can apply index and follow meta tag robots but it doesn’t have any added value.

Examples of Noindex usage

According to Google’s support article, you can use noindex when root access to the server is missing. This allows website administrators to control access on your WordPress website on a page-by-page basis. Let’s walk through five examples for noindex usage.

Author archive

It is important to set your author archives to <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow”/>, so that you avoid search engine spiders to crawl through duplicate content but still follow embedded links. Reason being, is that most blogs only have one or two authors which makes most author pages the same as the blog homepage.

Custom post type

Some post types, such as ‘Media‘, require a noindex meta tag. For instance, when you upload an image you’ll automatically create a new page on your WordPress website. That means a whole page for only one image and (perhaps) some description. This is considered thin content and should be kept away from the search engine crawlers. Furthermore, it often happens that a developer or plugin includes unwanted custom post types that you don’t want to be indexed. Therefore, you should use custom pages for your products instead of the regular product pages that WooCommerce, Shopify or Magento outputs.

Thank you pages

Thank you pages serve no additional value except for thanking a new subscriber or customer. Therefore, it is considered thin content that requires a noindex meta tag which will look like this:

This will avoid search engine spiders to scan thin content but follow the links on your (conformation) page.

Admin & login pages

The admin & login pages automatically have a noindex meta tag. However, for some websites it is important that the login page is indexed. For example, users of Google Drive, OneDrive, Mediafire and Dropbox often search for the login page. In that case, you should add an index meta tag to make sure that search engines rank it.

Internal search results

Internal search results refer to, for instance, the search widget in WordPress or the product search in WooCommerce. When you installed Yoast SEO, you can add noindex robots meta, simply go to WordPress admin > SEO and click Search Appearance. Search appearance refers to categories, tags, format or other taxonomies if you want to noindex a group of items. One of the adaptions you should make is to toggle “Show Tags in search results” to “no” as shown in the image below:

noindex or nofollow usage

Examples of Nofollow usage

You can add nofollow attributes in text links. By default, a link will look like this:

To prevent search engines from following this link, you’ll need to add the nofollow meta tag to the link:

According to Google’s support article, there are three examples of nofollow usage.

Untrusted content

Untrusted user comments or guestbook entries are considered untrusted content. As an administrator, consider whether to automatically or manually add the nofollow attribute to these sections. Some websites have trustworthy contributors that post high-quality links. In this case, dofollow is the attribute by default.

Paid links

When it comes to paid links, you should add a nofollow attribute. For example, if your page advertises products via embedded affiliate links (e.g. Amazon, Alibaba), consider to nofollow it, unless it provides valuable information that adds to your content.

Crawl prioritization

Google suggests to focus on solid information architecture to guide Googlebot through your site. This means your website should have intuitive navigation and clear URLs. For example, avoid inviting the Googlebot to follow “sign in” or “register here” links by adding nofollow attributes.

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