When would someone use “noindex, follow” in a robots meta tag?

Today’s question comes from
Andy in New York. Andy asks, Can you give us an
example of a situation where you would recommend
using a NOINDEX, FOLLOW robots META tag? OK, so it’s a little
bit arbitrary. But imagine if you have a site
map, an HTML site map, and for whatever reason you don’t want
Google to actually return the site map itself. So maybe you have a couple
hundred links on that page and you’re worried oh, Google might
think that that looks a little spammy, so I’m not going
to worry about that. But you want users to
see it just fine. In theory, you could have a
noindex meta tag, so that wouldn’t be returned within
the search results. But then have follow, which
allows us to follow those outgoing links. So if you’re doing a site map,
which doesn’t look all that pretty or that you don’t want
to be returned in the search results, you can use
the no index. But then if you still want those
links to be followed, that’s an example where you
could use the noindex comma follow or noindex space follow
to make sure that Google is still willing to process
and index those links and follow them. So it’s not a very common
case, but there are some situations in which we
see people do that.


  1. IgorHW said:

    Isn't "follow" default behavior? Is it necessary with "noindex"?

    February 15, 2011
  2. Tyler Deardon said:

    You should of said like a page 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 on a blog.

    February 16, 2011
  3. ShawnKHall said:

    Another example is a "tag" page or other index view of content, either by date or search term. It would be detrimental to have the same content indexed at "-2011-01-whatever-" and "-2011-01-" and "-2011-". The index pages ("-2011-01-" and "-2011-") should still provide access to the content (possibly in an abbreviated form) for users, but should link back to the canonical URL of "-2011-01-whatever-" – resulting in the "real" URL being indexed without stuffing up the works with index pages.

    February 16, 2011
  4. John Britsios said:

    I do not understand why should the "follow" directive be included. Doesn't Googlebot follow by default?

    February 16, 2011
  5. BrightSoul80 said:

    @Webnauts I guess you can't predict what a web crawler will do when it encounters a noindex page. Googlebot might follow its links by default while others might not. I think it's always best to express your intentions explicitly, through code. Leave nothing to chance.

    February 20, 2011
  6. losdecline said:

    I wonder if exists a noindex abuse. ..Let's say you want to use dup content (from another website of yours) and slap a no-index on those pages, becasue those pages could be of interest anyway..and Let's say the 50% of your pages in your web is no-indexed…Would this cause a penalty or something like that?

    June 6, 2011
  7. Scott Laffin said:

    I use this tag on my confirmation pages. These are the pages that users are sent to when they complete an action that triggers a conversion. Usually they are thank you pages. I don't want Google or any other SERP to show these pages, because then the conversions would be messed up. However, I do want the links to continue to be followed.

    May 3, 2012
  8. WordPressTutorialNow said:

    So should we make our TOS and Privacy pages noidex pages?

    July 16, 2012
  9. Mitnovitsky. Mitnovitsky. said:

    What is the difference between the 'disallow' and 'noindex' parameters?
    When i suppose to use the first one?

    October 6, 2012
  10. rgh1986aka199 said:

    'disallow' is used in the robots.txt file to manage site-wide access, whereas 'noindex' should be used inside the meta tag on an individual page (like meta name="robots" content="noindex") to give special information (like 'not to index' in this case) to the robots scanning that particular page.

    February 4, 2013
  11. Jason Pittman said:

    i <3 you – thanks

    April 3, 2013
  12. mark munroe said:

    I"ll just add – i find very little reason to ever do a noindex, nofollow. Because there are always some links you want followed (like your main nav) – so therefore there is no PageRank stranded.

    July 19, 2013
  13. dracarysnoir said:

    This question should probably be revisited. This was the pre-Panda answer in my opinion. There are a lot of reasons to use noindex, follow now and it should be commonly used. Archive pages, tag pages, or any page with light content in desperate need of updating should all be noindexed if you think you've been hit with a site-wide Panda penalty.

    August 25, 2013
  14. Rudwung GaryLinda said:

    Wow…dude. You need to get back on your medication.

    September 30, 2013
  15. Joseph Asamoah said:

    So am  i right to say If I want to monetize my site and have a little directory then I can use it?

    June 2, 2014
  16. BMC Internet Marketing said:

    Question: for multilingual domain .com and no content on .com itself only on .com/nl, .com/de, .com/fr and so on, redirected browser language and implemented rel="alternate" hreflang for all languages.
    If I put an noindex, follow on top level .com will the underlying pages be followed as well as indexed?
    Is this wise to do this in this case for a multilingual domain? Other option is to use a simple page as content for .com with simply the flags so visitors can choose their language.

    Thanks a lot!

    November 6, 2015
  17. Carrierhouse Data Center said:


    October 6, 2017
  18. Cali Steve said:

    Has a business meeting and room is silent.

    My stomach: 0:19

    December 4, 2018

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