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Google Answers If Meta Robots Tags Affect Search Rankings

Do meta robots tags affect search rankings? Google's John Mueller answers this commonly asked SEO question.

do you need meta robots tag

Google Search Advocate John Mueller explains whether the use of meta robots tags can affect webpage rankings in search results.

This topic is addressed in the latest installment of the Ask Googlebot series on YouTube.

Mueller answers the following question submitted on Twitter:

“If a site does not have a robots meta tag, does this affect the ranking negatively?”

Websites can use meta robots tags to customize the appearance of search snippets, so it’s common to ask if they impact search rankings.

The short answer is no; meta robots tags aren’t ranking signals.

The longer answer is they can influence click-through rate.

Read Mueller’s full answer in the following section.

Google’s John Mueller On Meta Robots Tags

Answering the question regarding meta robots tags and their effect on search rankings, Mueller says:

“We talk about some of these SEO elements so often that it’s easy to assume that they’re required. In this case, no. A meta robots tag is not required for ranking.

The robots meta tag can specify how a specific page should be shown in search, or if it shouldn’t be shown at all. This metatag is only necessary if you want to change the default appearance of a page in the search results.

For example, if you want to limit how long the snippet can be, then you can use the max snippet robot metatag. If you don’t have any preferences regarding how a page is to be shown in search then not having a robots metatag on a page at all is also perfectly fine.

If you’re curious about the options, I’d check out our documentation on both the robots meta tags as well as on other tags that Google supports.”

Google supports over a dozen meta robots tags that publishers can use to customize everything from the text in a search snippet to the sizes of images and video previews.

The tags affect what people see in search results, but they won’t positively or negatively impact search rankings.

Meta robots tags don’t communicate any signals or information that Google can use to understand where to rank a page in search results.

Therefore, a page with meta robots tags doesn’t have an inherent advantage over a page without them.

That doesn’t mean they’re not helpful, however. Meta robots tags are worth using when you’re unhappy with how Google displays your pages in search results.

You may find that Google gives away too much of a page’s primary content in the search snippet, in which case you can limit the number of characters with the max-snippet tag.

If you feel a search snippet would look better without a sitselinks search box, you can use the nositelinkssearchbox tag. That’s a use case that could impact click-through rate, but it won’t affect how Google ranks the page.

For more information about the meta robots tags Google supports, see the official help page.

Source: Google Search Central

Featured Image: Screenshot from, September 2022. 

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google Answers If Meta Robots Tags Affect Search Rankings

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