A Guide to Search Engine Directives

Guide to Search Engine Directives

Robot meta tags serve as search engine directives, guiding them on how website owners would like them to interpret and display content in search results.

Understanding Search Engine Directives

Let’s delve into the subtle landscape of robots’ meta tags, understanding their roles and impact on search engine behaviour.

Make sure you check out the handy image at the end, too.

Robot meta tags help control indexing at the page level and are applied in the <head> of a page. This post covers some of the most common meta tags you may see. 

1. noindex: Do Not List in Search Results

The noindex meta tag signals search engines not to include the page in their index, effectively excluding it from search results.

This directive is handy for pages you want to avoid appearing in search results, such as thank-you pages, login pages, or duplicate content.

2. nofollow: Do Not Follow Links on This Page

With nofollow, search engines are instructed not to follow the links on the page, preventing the distribution of link equity to the linked pages.

It is useful for pages where you prefer users not to access cached versions, possibly for privacy or content control reasons.

3. nosnippet: Suppress Text or Video Snippet in Search Results

The nosnippet meta tag prevents search engines from displaying a text snippet or video preview for the page in search results.

This is ideal for content-sensitive pages where you wish to control the information revealed in search snippets.

4. noarchive: Suppress Cached Link in Search Results

The noarchive meta tag instructs search engines not to display a cached link for the page in search results.

It is useful for pages where you prefer users not to access cached versions, possibly for privacy or content control reasons.

5. noimageindex: Do Not Index Images on This Page

With noimageindex, search engines are told not to index the images included on the page.

This meta tag is applicable when you want to exclude images from search engine indices, which is often relevant for pages with sensitive visual content.

6. max-image-preview: Set Maximum Image Preview Size

The max-image-preview meta tag allows you to set the maximum size of an image preview for the page in search results.

It is useful for controlling the display size of image previews, providing more granular control over how your images appear in search results.

7. max-snippet: Set Maximum Text Snippet Length

With max-snippet, you can set the maximum number of characters search engines should use in a text snippet for the page in search results.

This search engine directive offers control over the length of text snippets displayed in search results, which is especially valuable for managing how your content is represented.

8. max-video-preview: Set Maximum Video Snippet Length

The max-video-preview meta tag enables you to set the maximum number of seconds to be shown in a video snippet for videos on the page in search results.

This is valuable for controlling the duration of video snippets in search results, providing a tailored preview of video content.

Search Engine Directives

Best Practices for Implementing Robot Meta Tags

Since they only work at the page level (so they will only affect the page they are applied to), remember to use robot meta tags strategically based on each page’s unique characteristics and objectives.

Make sure you periodically review and adjust meta tags as needed, especially when dealing with dynamic content or during website updates.

Use tools like Google Search Console to test and validate the impact of robots’ meta tags on search engine behaviour.

Using robot meta tags, website owners and SEOs can better finetune how search engines perceive and present our content. These directives offer more detailed control, allowing you to tailor and enhance your visibility and how websites are presented in organic search results.


Subscribe To Tech SEO Tips Newsletter

The latest news from the SEO industry, plus tips and discussions on improving your tech SEO performance.