The Ultimate Guide to The Meta Robots Tag

The Ultimate Guide to The Meta Robots Tag

Meta robots tags are a vital part of improving the search engine’s behavior of crawling and indexing and controlling the snippets in the SERP (search engine result pages).

In this article, you will learn about Meta Robots Tag, including its syntax, directives, implementation, and how it’s related to X-Robots and Robots.txt files.

Table of Content

  1. What is the Meta Robots Tag?
  2. Importance of Meta Robot Tag
  3. Meta Robot Syntax
  4. Meta Robots Directives
  5. How to combine Meta Robot Directives?
  6. SEO best practices for robots directives
  7. Support across search engine
  8. Conclusion

What is Meta Robot Tag?

The Meta Robots Tag is one of the essential SEO tags to audit the pages of your website. It’s a simple piece of code that provides firm instructions to crawlers of Google on how to crawl or index your web page content.

The Meta Robots Tag is a Meta tag that can be written between the <head> </head> section of the HTML file. There’s one other Meta directive called Robots.txt, which is used to communicate with search engine robots and can be added to the root of the website.

We can write meta robot tag with parameters that give a signal to search engines for the written actions as given below:

<meta name= “robots” content=”noindex, nofollow” />

Where robots are meta robots tag and noindex and nofollow are parameters. We can also give the same task to crawlers by including the instruction in the header of HTTP through the X-Robots tag. The X-Robots tag is used to stop non-HTML content, such as images, videos, and PDFs, from being indexed by search engines.

Importance of Meta Robots Tag

Search engines try crawling and indexing all the content they see on your page. When your URL is ranked, the meta description of your page is obtained as input by search engines to generate a snippet. However, it's not necessary every time as search engines can also build their snippet based on web pages’ content if they think that it will perform better. The importance of using meta robot directives to protect the SEO performance of your website is given below.

  • If your web page is giving offers or discounts that you want to be available for your specific users and not to the world, then Meta Robots Tag will prevent search engines from indexing pages you don’t want to index.
  • It can prevent a duplicate content issue if the noindex directive instructs crawlers not to index Pay Per Click (PPC) pages as search results.
  • Removes sensitive content that is not appropriate for indexing by using a no-index directive.
  • It can enhance the user experience if only relevant and useful pages are available to the consumer.
  • It blocks non-HTML resources such as images, videos, and PDFs from being indexed by crawlers of search engines.

Meta Robots Syntax

  • The entire syntax of the meta robots tag is called a meta element.
  • Attribute value “robot” with the attribute ‘name’ works with all crawlers but you can also use other specific agents.
  • You can also use other directives in place of the attribute value “noindex, follow”.
  • Meta directive is not case-sensitive.
  • Directives such as noindex, follow, nofollow, etc., should be separated with commas for Google.
  • Do not use space after commas while writing meta directives.

Meta Robots Directives

Some most common and important directives for Google are given below:

  • All: If you don’t have anything written in meta, the robots of search engines will crawl and index any content they find unless you specify other instructions. You can use the following meta element with the directive ‘all’ to explicitly define that this is allowed.

 <meta name=”robots” content=”all” />

  • Noindex: it is the most frequently used and important directive. Noindex directive defines whether your web page can be indexed or not. By using it, you will block your page from indexing by Google.

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />

  • Nofollow: it blocks robots from tracking links available on the web page. If you use nofollow, and if your page contains a link, then it won’t be followed by Google if you visit other pages you visit by clicking on that link.

<meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow” />

  • Noarchieve: this directive prevents Google from displaying the cached link of your page in search results.

<meta name=”robots” content=”noarchieve” />

  • Nosnippet: use of this descriptive prevents Google from displaying your meta description in search results.

<meta name=”robots” content=”nosnippet” />

How do combine Meta Robots Directives?

You can combine directives to perform a specific task for the different crawlers of different search engines. The crawler uses the sum of every directive written and performs tasks according to that. Take a look at the following example.

<meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow” />

<meta name=”googlebot” content=”noindex” />

By using this combination, Google will interpret noindex and nofollow directives while other search engines will interpret them as nofollow.

When you start using a set of directives, it’s easy to create a conflict. When this scenario occurs, Google follows the most restrictive one by default. However, interpreting the conflict directives can vary according to search engines.

Seo Best Practices For Robots Directives

Follow the listed instructions to use SEO best practices.

  • Avoid using Meta Robots tag with X-Robots tag, as one of them will become unnecessary.
  • Use Meta Robots tag with directives as noindex, follow; if you don’t want to index the page but want crawlers to go ahead with linked pages.
  • Don’t write index and follow directives on each page of your website to get indexed as it is assumed by default.
  • Use the X-robots to handle crawling control of non-HTML files such as video, images, flash, PDFs, etc.
  • Do not exclude indexed pages in robots.txt; use the Meta Robots tag simultaneously to be considered by crawlers. Crawlers have to crawl your robots.txt file, and excluding indexed pages won’t let them do that.
  • In this type of situation, first, post the meta robots tag on your pages until Google de-index them. Once google de-index, you can exclude them by using robots.txt if they serve no purpose.
  • Do not use noindex and canonical URLs, as using both on the same page is confusing for search engines.
  • Don’t add 

pages in your XML sitemap that have noindex directive written, as the XML sitemap is used for signaling crawlers about which pages they have to crawl or index.

Support Across Search Engines

The table listed below shows which search engines support which values of attributes. However, there are many unknowns as the information given by some search engines is limited. 




Yahoo Yandex Bing


All Y ? Y ? N
None Y ? Y ? N
Index Y* Y* Y Y* Y
No-index Y Y Y Y Y
Follow Y* Y* Y Y* Y
No-follow Y Y Y Y Y
Nosnippet Y N N Y N
Noarchive Y Y Y Y Y
Nocache N N N N N
Notranslate Y N N N N
Max-snippet Y Y N N N
Max-image-previw Y Y N N N
Max-video-preview Y Y N N N
Unavailable after Y N N N N

Note: *indicates the pure assumption of working based on supportive attributes as the information provided by the search engines is not sufficient to know about the working of attributes.


The Meta Robots tag is not complicated as the name sounds. Understanding the goal and use of meta robots tag is more complex. The best SEO practice is to send the right instruction to search engines, and using the correct meta robots directive will do that for you.

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