Google responds if Meta Robots tags affect search rankings

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Google search attorney John Mueller discusses whether the use of robotic meta tags can affect the ranking of web pages in search results.

This topic is covered in the latest episode of the Ask Googlebot series on YouTube.

Mueller responds to the following question submitted on Twitter:

“If a site doesn’t have a robots meta tag, does that negatively affect rankings?”

Websites can use meta robots tags to customize the appearance of search snippets, so it’s common to ask if they impact search rankings.

The short answer is no; Meta robots tags are not ranking signals.

The longer answer is that they can influence the click-through rate.

Read Mueller’s full response in the next section.

Google’s John Mueller on Meta Robots tags

Responding to the question regarding meta bot tags and their effect on search rankings, Mueller says:

“We talk about some of these SEO elements so often that it’s easy to assume they’re necessary. In this case, no. A robots meta tag is not required for ranking.

The robots meta tag can specify how a specific page should be displayed in search, or whether it should not be displayed at all. This meta tag is only needed if you want to change the default appearance of a page in search results.

For example, if you want to limit the maximum snippet length, you can use the max snippet robot meta tag. If you have no preference for how a page should be displayed in search, it is also perfectly acceptable not to have a robots metatag on a page.

If you’re curious about the options, I’d check out our documentation on robots meta tags as well as other tags supported by Google.

Google supports more than a dozen bot meta tags that publishers can use to customize everything from search snippet text to the size of images and video previews.

Tags affect what people see in search results, but they won’t positively or negatively impact search rankings.

Meta robots tags do not communicate any signals or information that Google can use to know where to rank a page in search results.

Therefore, a page with robots meta tags has no inherent advantage over a page without them.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful, though. Meta robots tags are worth using when you are unhappy with how Google is showing your pages in search results.

You may find that Google gives too much of a page’s main content in the search snippet, in which case you can limit the number of characters with the max-snippet label.

If you think a search snippet would look better without a sitelinks search box, you can use the oursitelinkssearchbox label. This is a use case that could impact click-through rate, but it won’t affect how Google ranks the page.

For more information on robots meta tags supported by Google, see the official website help page.


Source: Google Search Center

Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, September 2022.

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