Coding Tips

The “NO INDEX” Meta Tag – Does it Work?

A review of Matt Cutts' Findings

by Jerry West
September 1, 2006

Matt Cutts posted in his blog results about the no index meta tag. We thought it would be good to run this on our testing lab and see if his results that he reported were accurate.

First, let's run through the process:

The issue is from a question as to why a certain website was not included in the Google index. In looking at the source code of this document, it was discovered that they had the "no index" meta tag.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">

Now, Matt was curious how the other engines treated this page, so he did some searches.

Here is how the query appears in MSN:

MSN Congo Result - Hijacked Without Permission from Matt Cutts' Site. Matt, you can choke me again for doing this.

As you can see from the above, MSN lists the site in the index, but if you click on the "Cached page" link, you are informed the page could not be displayed. Fair enough.

Next is Yahoo!, let's see how they do:

I stole this one from Matt's site too. Hey, once you steal once, the second time is easier. At least I'm not ripping off his bandwidth. If I did he may do worse than a simple choke hold. :-)

Yahoo! really takes the cake here. Not only do they show the site in the index, but they indexed the page. Nice. If you click on the cached version of the page, it even has the "no index" tag in there. Shameful.

According to Matt, the following is true if the "no index" meta tag is used:

  • Google does not show the page in the index, nor in the cache.
  • Ask does not show the page in the index, nor in the cache.
  • MSN does display the URL reference in the index, but no description snippet, and clicking on the cached page does not return the page.
  • Yahoo! displays the URL reference in the index, no snippet, and a cached link. Clicking on the cached link returns the actual page.

Matt says he would prefer it if every search engine treated the "no index" meta tag the same way that Google does, by not displaying anything.

So, I took Matt's "one site sample" and ran it through our testing bank - and I came up with nearly the same exact results. A few times Yahoo! did not return the page, nor did it cache the page, but MSN and Google were very consistent in not showing the cached page.

Sorry, I didn't perform the test with Ask. I just can't devote time to that engine. :-)


© 2006,
Jerry West is the Director of Internet Marketing for WebMarketingNow. He has been consulting on the web since 1996 and has assisted hundreds of companies gain an upper-hand over their competition. Visit for the latest in marketing tips that are tested and proven.

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