In Google’s November 2022 Edition of Office-hours Hangout Q&A Session, Google Webmaster Trend Analyst Gary Illyes answered a question about having an excessive number of noindex pages. The question was submitted by one of the viewers, who wanted to know whether having too many noindex pages on a website will somehow affect the discovery and indexing of other content. And whether or not there is any particular figure of noindex pages beyond which Google might look at this website rather suspiciously. Gary said that noindex is a tool created by search engines to help its users and that using it excessively does not influence how Google crawls or indexes a website. And neither does using the tool impact Google’s crawl budget in any way. Before we take a look at the question and Gary’s response to it at full length, let’s understand what noindex really is and why it is needed in the first place.
What is noindex and why do you need it?
Quality SEO is as much about having quality content appear in the search results as it is about not having a certain kind of page not appear in the search results. And that is where noindex comes in. Noindex is a robots meta tag, an HTML value that signals search engines not to include the page in the search results. Pages with duplicate or similar content, thin content, or specifically designed not to appear in the search results are often tagged with noindex commands. Take for example, you run a travel blog, which has different states marked as categories or tags, and you do not want people to see that page in the search results. What do you do, you noindex. Many SEO plugins are designed to exclude this and similar kinds of pages from the search results by automatically (and manually) instructing search engines.
No, an excessive number of Noindex pages do not cause discovery or indexing issues.
Here’s what Chris, a user, asked the team.
“How much of an issue for Google is the excessive number of noindex pages, and whether it will affect discovery and indexing of content if the volume is too high?”
To which Gary replied with.
“Good question. noindex is a very powerful tool search engines support to help you, the site owner keep content out of their indexes. For this reason, it doesn’t carry any unintended effects when it comes to crawling and indexing. For example, having many pages with noindex will not influence how Google crawls and indexes your site.”
If the intention behind having these pages away from search results is right, you have nothing to worry about. The pages that you want Google to discover and index will continue to go through the same process of crawling and indexing regardless. It doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong or have something to worry about.