Robots Meta Directives: Your Pocket Guide to Meta Robots Tag SEO [+FAQ]

Macy is a Content Writer at WebFX. With a Content Marketing Certification, she's an expert in crafting pieces filled with the facts about all things digital marketing. You'll find many of her pieces featured on UpCity's Top Digital Marketing Articles of the Week. When she isn't clacking her keys, she's wondering why her dog is so cute. Follow her on Twitter @iinfinitestorm.

If you want search engines to crawl and index your site correctly, you need to use robots meta directives. But if you aren’t familiar with the robots meta tag, you may not know where to start.

 

 

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you implement the robots tag for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. This guide will include information like:

  • What robot meta directives are
  • Meta robots tag vs. x-robots-tag
  • 11 types of parameters to know
  • FAQs on robots tag for SEO

Keep reading to learn more! And if you want to get the latest tips and tricks for marketing your business online, subscribe to our email newsletter!

Cta6 Img

Independent research from Clutch has named

WebFX the top SEO company in the United States.

Over 200 WebFX clients have been interviewed by Clutch to discuss their experience partnering with us.

Check out more Clutch Reviews Icon Longarrow Right White

What are robot meta directives?

Robot meta directives, also known as robot meta tags, are a piece of code that provides search engine crawlers with guidance on how to crawl and index your website. These tags are critical for ensuring the correct pages are indexed to appear in search results.

Robots.txt vs. robots meta directives

A vital distinction to mention before moving forward is robots.txt vs. robots meta directives. When looking at these two, it may seem like they do the same thing –– and to some degree they do –– but there is one key difference.

Robots.txt provides suggestions for how to crawl and index pages on your site. It’s more a recommendation for how search engines can proceed.

Robots meta directives, on the other hand, are more firm with instructions on how to crawl and index your site.

Two types of robots meta directives to know

There are two types of meta directives you can set up on your pages to help search engines crawl and index your pages. We’ll go over them briefly:

Meta robots tag

The first type of robots tag for SEO that you can implement is the meta robots tag. The meta robots tag lets you control indexing behavior at the page level. You implement this code into the heading of your website.

The code can appear as follows:

<meta name=”robots” content=“[parameter]”>

When you use this tag, you can implement more than one parameter in the tag (we’ll go over parameters next) as long as it’s for the same robot.

 

Coding code on a website

 

X-robots-tag

The second type of robots meta directive you can create is an x-robots-tag. This tag enables you to control indexing at both the page level and for specific page elements. You also implement this tag into the header of your website.

An example of this tag looks like this:

Header (“X-Robots-Tag: [parameter]”, true);

Overall, the x-robots-tag offers more flexibility than the meta robots tag.

11 types of parameters to know

When you set up your robots meta directives, you’ll need to set parameters within the code. These parameters help search engine crawlers understand how to crawl and index the page. Here are 11 critical parameters to know:

Parameter Name Description
All Shortcut for index, follow
Follow Crawlers should follow all links and pass link equity to the pages
Nofollow Search engines should not pass any equity to linked-to pages
Index Crawlers should index the page
Noindex Crawlers should not index a page
Noimageindex Crawlers should not index any images on a page
Max-snippet Sets the maximum number of characters as a textual snippet for search results
None Shortcut for noindex, nofollow
Nocache Search engines shouldn’t show cached links for this page when it appears in search results
Nosnippet Search engines shouldn’t show a snippet of the page (like a meta description) in the search results
Unavailable_after Search engines shouldn’t index a page after the set date

These are the parameters you’ll use when implementing robots meta directives and telling search engines like Google how to index your site.

FAQ about robots meta directives

Got some lingering questions about robots meta directives? Browse our handy FAQ!

Does every search engine support all parameters?

No. Of the 11 parameters we listed above, not every search engine will support them when indexing your site.

Google is the only site that recognizes all the parameters shared. Otherwise, it varies with search engines. For example, Bing acknowledges many of the tags, but one it doesn’t recognize is noimageindex.

So, if you’re aiming to use the robots meta tag for other search engines, you may need to do some research to see what tags work.

Do you need to use both meta robots tag and x-robots tag?

No! It is redundant to use both types of meta tags. You can choose whichever one fits your website’s needs best.

Can you implement robots meta directives on third-party sites?

With so many businesses using third-party sites like WordPress or Shopify to host their sites, many wonder if they can implement the robots meta tag. In short, yes. Many third-party hosts enable you to implement the robots meta directives you need for your site.

How you implement them will vary depending upon the site host. With WordPress, for example, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to add the meta directives. For a site builder like Squarespace, you can change your page settings or use Code Injection to add the tags you need.

 

Yoast SEO plugin homepage

 

You may need to do some research to find out how you can implement the robots tag for SEO on your website builder of choice.

Why do robots meta directives matter?

After learning about the robots meta directives, you may be wondering why this feature matters. Why is it so crucial that you implement this code on your site?

There are two big reasons you’ll want to implement the robots meta tag on your site:

  1. It helps you control what ranks in search results: Implementing these tags enables you to have better control over how search engines crawl and index your pages. It ultimately allows you to guide search engines to crawl your most valuable pages correctly so they can rank.
  2. It prevents pages with little value from getting indexed: Some pages, like admin pages or thank you pages, have little value to your business’s ranking. By implementing robots meta directives, you prevent search engines from wasting crawl budget on these pages.

Need help implementing robots meta directives?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with implementing the robots tag for SEO, you’re not alone. Trying to edit the backend of your site can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with coding. That’s where the experts at WebFX can help.

We have a team of over 300 marketing experts that can help you implement your robots meta directives. With our SEO services, we can help you do more than implement your robots meta tag –– we can help you optimize your site to rank better in search results.

And higher rankings mean more qualified traffic and leads for your business.

Ready to help your site rank better in search results? Contact us online or call us today at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist!

Bonus Reading: 14 Essential Resources for New SEOs