The meta robots tag and its crucial role in SEO

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Meta tag Robots

When it comes to optimising a website for search engines, there are several technical aspects to consider.

One of the key elements is the robots meta tag. In this article, we'll introduce you to this tag, its definition and the impact it can have on your SEO strategy.

Robots meta tag

What is a robots meta tag?

robots meta tag is an instruction in theheader HTML of a web page, which tells search engines how they should crawl and index the page's content. Among other things, this guides exploration robots search engines (such as Googlebot) to the relevant pages and tell them which pages they should ignore.

The different types of instructions for the robots meta tag

There are several instructions that you can add to a robots meta tag. Here are the main ones:

  • index / noindex These values determine whether or not the search engine should index the page in question. By using "index", you are asking the search engine to add the page to its index, whereas by using "noindex", you are explicitly asking it not to index the page.
  • follow / nofollow With these instructions, you tell the crawler whether or not to follow the links on the page. "Follow" means that the links should be followed and taken into account when indexing the content, and "nofollow" tells the robot not to consider these links.
  • nocache This directive is used to prevent the search engine from caching a version of the page, which can be useful if the content changes frequently.
  • noarchive By adding "noarchive", you are asking the search engine not to keep an archive of the page. This means that even if the content was previously indexed, it will no longer appear in the search results.
  • nosnippet nosnippet: The nosnippet instruction tells search engines that they should not display an extract from your page in search results, which may be relevant for certain sensitive or confidential pages.

How do I use the robots meta tag correctly?

To add a robots meta tag to the HTML header of your site, simply insert a  with the attribute name="robots" attribute and the desired value in the content="...". For example :

< !DOCTYPE html>
	<meta charset="UTF-8">
	<meta name="robots" content="index, follow">

This tells search engines that they can index this page and follow the links in the content.

The SEO benefits of the meta robots tag

Mastering the use of meta tags robots is essential for optimising your search engine optimisation. Here's why:

  1. Check the indexing of your pages The meta robots tag allows you to decide which pages should or should not be indexed by search engines, thereby improving the quality of your overall indexing.
  2. Optimising consumption of the exploration budget Search engines are strict about the time and number of queries they spend crawling your site. By making judicious use of the "index/nofollow" instructions, you can guide these explorers to the most relevant pages and optimise the consumption of your exploration budget.
  3. Avoiding duplicate content The robots meta tag can help you avoid problems with duplicate content. For example, if two pages contain the same content with just a few variations, you can use "noindex" on one of them to prevent search engines from penalising your site for duplicate content.
  4. Managing sensitive or confidential content By applying the "noindex", "nocache" and "noarchive" instructions to certain sensitive pages, you can significantly reduce the risk of unwanted dissemination of this information online.

Pitfalls to avoid with the robots meta tag

However, abusive or incorrect use of meta robots tags can have negative consequences for your SEO. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Use "noindex, follow If a page is marked with "noindex, follow", it will not be indexed by search engines even though its links are followed. This can create situations where important pages remain invisible in the search engine index. Remember to check whether this combination is really appropriate for the pages concerned.
  • Forgetting to remove the temporary noindex When creating or updating maintenance of your site, you may use the "noindex" value to prevent certain temporary content from being indexed. Don't forget to remove this value when the content becomes definitive or when it needs to be taken into account by the search engines.
  • Using the robots meta tag as a single solution Although the meta robots tag is an effective way of controlling the crawling of your site, it is not the only method. There are also other tools (such as the robots.txt) to manage spider access to the different parts of your site. A global and coherent strategy, combining the use of meta robots tags and other optimisation techniques, is recommended for optimal referencing.

In short, the robots meta tag is a key element to be aware of when it comes to SEO.

Mastering it will enable you to influence the crawling, indexing and presentation of your pages in search results.

However, be careful and use the various instructions judiciously to optimise your overall ranking and avoid any unintended adverse effects.

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