Google Sheds Light on the “Index, Follow” Meta Tag: Insights for SEO Professionals
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Google Sheds Light on the “Index, Follow” Meta Tag: Insights for SEO Professionals

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By NewSEOCenter

In a recent revelation that’s stirring the SEO community, Google’s John Mueller has offered clarity on the long-debated “index, follow” meta tag, a staple in the world of search engine optimization. This development, while aligning with documented practices, may still surprise many in the industry.

Understanding the Robots Meta Tag

At the heart of this discussion is the Robots Meta Tag, an HTML element that communicates critical metadata to search engine crawlers like Googlebot. Unlike other meta elements, such as the meta description, the Robots Meta Tag uniquely influences how these crawlers interact with web pages.

Debunking Common Misconceptions

A widespread practice among SEO experts has been the use of the <meta name="robots" content="index, follow"> tag. This tag was believed to instruct search engines to index a page’s content and follow its links. However, Mueller’s explanation turns this belief on its head.

Google’s Stance on “Index, Follow”

Mueller clarified that the “index” and “follow” directives are essentially redundant for Google. The search engine’s default behavior is to index content and follow links, rendering these instructions unnecessary. This insight is crucial for SEO professionals who have long considered these directives as pivotal for search engine visibility.

Implications for SEO Practices

This revelation by Google signifies a shift in understanding for SEO strategies. It underscores the importance of focusing on meta tags that directly impact search engine performance and user experience, rather than on redundant directives.

Bing’s Slightly Different Approach

It’s noteworthy that Bing, another major search engine, treats these directives slightly differently. While it also assumes “index” and “follow” as defaults, Bing’s documentation allows for explicit statements of these directives if desired.

The Myth of “Noindex, Follow”

Another significant point of discussion is the

misconception surrounding the use of “noindex, follow” in meta tags. Contrary to some beliefs, this directive does not compel search engines to follow links on a non-indexed page. Google’s approach makes it clear that if a page is not indexed, the links on that page are also not followed, debunking a common myth in SEO circles.

Adapting SEO Strategies

In light of Google’s clarification, SEO professionals and website owners are encouraged to reevaluate their use of meta tags. The focus should shift towards optimizing elements that genuinely enhance search visibility and user engagement, such as meta descriptions, structured data, and relevant content optimization.

A Call for Updated SEO Knowledge

This development serves as a reminder of the dynamic nature of SEO and the importance of staying updated with search engine guidelines. What was once a standard practice may no longer hold relevance, emphasizing the need for continuous learning and adaptation in the field of SEO.


Google’s explanation regarding the “index, follow” meta tag is more than just a technical detail; it’s a pivotal learning moment for the SEO community. It highlights the necessity of understanding the actual functionality of search engine algorithms and adapting strategies accordingly. As the digital landscape evolves, so must our approaches to optimizing for search engines, ensuring that our efforts align with the current best practices and guidelines set forth by leaders like Google and Bing.

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